International Workers’ Day

This day is an opportunity for many labour organizations to highlight the issues facing workers. In this year 2023, the Montreal May 1st Coalition is putting forward the theme “We don’t profit from inflation!”

This is a reminder of the major impacts of inflation and the rising cost of living for a majority of the population. Even if women and men are working, many simply cannot meet their basic needs every month. The theme is broken down into three main issues: housing, food and transportation.

The May 1st rally will call on “governments to govern in the interest of the greatest number of people.” It will be held starting at 5:30 p.m. at Remembrance Park (Verdun metro) in Montreal.

For a greater solidarity…

In parallel with the union demands, the Assemblée des évêques du Québec (AEQ) sent out a message of awareness under the title “Those who give to the poor will lack nothing”. 1 The aim is to raise awareness of the difficulties experienced by families faced with constant price increases. The message calls for solidarity to help individuals and families living in difficult socio-economic situations. It is available in French and English.

1 Book of Proverbs 28,27

Some historical notes

May Day was established as International Workers’ Day as a result of the strike movement that began in Chicago, U.S.A. on May 1, 1886. This event brought together some 300,000 workers to demand eight-hour workdays. The demonstration turned tragic at the end of the day when police shot and killed three protesters. During a new rally the next day, a bomb exploded killing 15 police officers. Several workers were tried and sentenced to life imprisonment, while a dozen others were hanged on November 11, 1886. Six years later, the latter were exonerated.

During the meeting of the Second International Day of the trade union movement held in 1889, the European participants retained the day of May 1 as a symbolic day of the struggle of the workers. Curiously, the American trade unions will refuse to recognize May Day on the pretext, it seems, of the too Marxist tone of the European trade union movements.