President Goodluck Ebele A. Jonathan, no1 Employee of the Nigerian State celebrating May Day in 2014
Posted by Ambassador T. Brikins
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History of May Day.
Beginning in the late 19th Century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, a variety of days were chosen by trade unionists as a day to celebrate labor. In the United States and Canada, a September holiday, called Labor or Labour Day, was first proposed in the 1880s. In 1882, Matthew Maguire, a machinist, first proposed a Labor Day holiday while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union (CLU)) of New York. Others argue that it was first proposed by Peter J. McGuire of the American Federation of Labor in May 1882, after witnessing the annual labour festival held in Toronto, Canada. In 1887, Oregon was the first state of the United States to make it an official public holiday. By the time it became an official federal holiday in 1894, thirty U.S. states officially celebrated Labor Day. Thus by 1887 in North America, Labor Day was an established, official holiday but in September, not on 1 May.
1 May was chosen to be International Workers' Day in order to commemorate the 4 May, 1886 Haymarket affair in Chicago. The police were trying to disperse a public assembly during a general strike for the eight-hour workday, when an unidentified person threw a bomb at the police. The police responded by firing on the workers, killing four demonstrators.
In 1889, a meeting in Paris was held by the first congress of the Second International, following a proposal by Raymond Lavigne which called for international demonstrations on the 1890 anniversary of the Chicago protests. May Day was formally recognized as an annual event at the International's second congress in 1891. Subsequently, the May Day Riots of 1894 occurred. In 1904, the International Socialist Conference meeting in Amsterdam called on "all Social Democratic Party organizations and trade unions of all countries to demonstrate energetically on the First of May for the legal establishment of the 8-hour day, for the class demands of the proletariat, and for universal peace." The congress made it "mandatory upon the proletarian organizations of all countries to stop work on 1 May, wherever it is possible without injury to the workers." Across the globe, labor activists sought to make May Day an official holiday to honor labor and many countries have done so.
May Day has long been a focal point for demonstrations by various socialist, communist and anarchist groups. May Day has been an important official holiday in countries such as the People's Republic of China, North Korea, Cuba and the former Soviet Union. May Day celebrations typically feature elaborate popular and military parades in these countries.
In 1955, the Catholic Church dedicated 1 May to "Saint Joseph The Worker". Saint Joseph is for the Church the patron saint of workers and craftsmen (among others).
During the Cold War, May Day became the occasional for large military parades in Red Square by the Soviet Union and attended by the top leaders of the Kremlin, especially the Politburo, atop Lenin's Tomb. It became an enduring symbol of that period.
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Nigeria Police Assures of Adequate Security
The Acting Inspector-General of Police, Mr Solomon Arase, today Thursday expressed happiness with the nation’s labour movement and assured it of adequate security during the 2015 Workers’ Day celebrations.
Arase gave the assurance in a message to the workers ahead of the May Day scheduled for Friday.
He said adequate security arrangement had been made for a hitch-free celebration, adding that heads of police formations nationwide had been directed to deploy large human and material resources for the celebration.
The I.G advised the workers to be vigilant and report any security threats in their locality to the police and other law enforcement agencies promptly.
He described workers as “a dependable ally’’ in the efforts to provide security in the country and commended their role in ensuring the peaceful conduct of the just concluded general elections. (NAN)