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A short history of Workers’ Day: May 1

The happy idea of using a proletarian holiday celebration as a means to attain the 8-hour day was first born in Australia. The workers there decided in 1856 to organize a day of complete stoppage together with meetings and entertainment as a demonstration in favor of the eight-hour day.

Marj Henningsen shared this link

The day of this celebration was to be April 21.

At first, the Australian workers intended this only for the year 1856. But this first celebration had such a strong effect on the proletarian masses of Australia, enlivening them and leading to new agitation, that it was decided to repeat the celebration every year.

In fact, what could give the workers greater courage and faith in their own strength than a mass work stoppage which they had decided themselves?

What could give more courage to the eternal slaves of the factories and the workshops than the mustering of their own troops?

Thus, the idea of a proletarian celebration was quickly accepted and, from Australia, began to spread to other countries until finally it had conquered the whole proletarian world.

The first to follow the example of the Australian workers were the Americans.

In 1886 they decided that May 1 should be the day of universal work stoppage. On this day two hundred thousand of them left their work and demanded the eight-hour day. Later, police and legal harassment prevented the workers for many years from repeating this [size of] demonstration.

However in 1888 they renewed their decision and decided that the next celebration would be May 1, 1890.

In the meanwhile, the workers’ movement in Europe had grown strong and animated.

The most powerful expression of this movement occurred at the International Workers’ Congress in 1889. At this congress, attended by four hundred delegates, it was decided that the eight-hour day must be the first demand.

Whereupon the delegate of the French unions, the worker Lavigne from Bordeaux, moved that this demand be expressed in all countries through a universal work stoppage. The delegate of the American workers called attention to the decision of his comrades to strike on May 1, 1890, and the congress decided on this date for the universal proletarian celebration.

In this case, as thirty years before in Australia, the workers really thought only of a one-time demonstration. The congress decided that the workers of all lands would demonstrate together for the eight-hour day on May 1, 1890. No one spoke of a repetition of the holiday for the next years.

Naturally no one could predict the lightning-like way in which this idea would succeed and how quickly it would be adopted by the working classes.

However, it was enough to celebrate the May Day simply one time in order that everyone understand and feel that May Day must be a yearly and continuing institution.

The first of May demanded the introduction of the eight-hour day. But even after this goal was reached, May Day was not given up. As long as the struggle of the workers against the bourgeoisie and the ruling class continues, as long as all demands are not met, May Day will be the yearly expression of these demands.

And, when better days dawn, when the working class of the world has won its deliverance then too humanity will probably celebrate May Day in honor of the bitter struggles and the many sufferings of the past.

 Demonstrators Demand Immigration Reform Across The United States

The protests have become routine annual occurrences, highlighting the degree to which Latinos have driven a resurgence of the International Workers’ Day, which is not officially recognized as a holiday in the United States.

Though the U.S. government shuns May Day in favor of Labor Day in September, the holiday originated to commemorate an event in U.S. history.

In 1889, the Second International designated May 1 to mark the anniversary of the Haymarket Affair, a violent clash between cops and protesting workers that occurred three years before.

But immigrants from Latin America, where most countries celebrate May Day, have reframed the holiday in recent years.

A massive immigration protest and boycott in 2006 drew hundreds of thousands into the streets, according to CNN.

Congress is currently considering a bipartisan immigration proposal that would provide a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented and pour billions more dollars into border security efforts.

Latin American countries also marked the workers’ holiday with marches, though often of a more contentious nature. Supporters and opponents of Venezuela’s new President Nicolás Maduro held demonstrations in Caracas, confrontations between Colombian protesters and police led to 90 arrests in Bogotá, and a new class of entrepreneurs tried to make a buck off of throngs of demonstrators in Havana.

See what May Day protests looked like across the United States and in Latin America in the slideshow above.

Another Victim to Immigration Reform: British Universities falling in the trap?

Currently in Britain, the future is looking pretty bleak for higher education.

According to the latest global rankings released by the Times Higher Education group, nearly all of the UK’s top universities have continued to free-fall down their list of the world’s best.

Bearing in mind that higher education is one of the country’s most lucrative exports, education buffs and politicians alike will no doubt be scrambling for answers as to why Britain’s reputation is slipping.

And the answer is disturbingly simple.

, American journalist and politics geek based in Scotland, posted this Oct.11, 2013 in the Huffpost students:

British Universities Fall Victim to Immigration Reform

In 2010, Conservatives made a promise to British voters to drastically slice the number of foreigners trying to live and work in the UK. Irrational Romanian scares and ‘Go Home’ vans aside, they’re finally making progress.

Earlier this year, Tories were left celebrating the first landmark success after the Office for National Statistics reported that net immigration had dropped by a third.

The figures showed that visas issued for the purpose of studying at British universities – the most common reason foreigners wanted to enter the country – fell by a whopping 20%.

As foreigners have been known to pay more than double what British citizens pay for their degrees, this is awful news for UK universities – and suggests the budgets of Britain’s learning institutions will only shrink further still.

After all, under current government rules, English universities are only allowed to charge UK and EU citizens a maximum yearly tuition of £9,000 – and in Northern Ireland, locals get charged just £3,575 per year.

How much do foreigners pay? According to UCAS, literally as much as universities want to charge them.

In fact, an international student earning a clinical degree in the UK is currently paying their university anywhere from £10,000 to £25,000 per year. Hell, last year, a standard engineering degree from Oxford – apparently one of the only UK institutions worthy of international acclaim – cost foreigners at least £24,707 per year.

Given these hefty sums, it’s a wonder money-hungry politicians don’t want Britain’s universities to be left exclusively for the use of international students – especially in Scotland, where locals pay absolutely nothing for their degrees. With that level of funding, it’s no wonder only one Scottish institution made the list of the world’s top 100 universities.

Yet regardless of the mixed signals David Cameron opts to shower over aspiring students in Asia, it’s fair to say the UK is becoming more and more unwelcome to foreigners.

That’s all well and good for the nation’s xenophobic voters, but it’s also worth noting that, in scaring off foreigners, the Home Office is consequently chasing away the much-needed funding that British universities need in order to grow.

There’s a bottom line here, and it’s frustratingly simple. It doesn’t take an economist to work out that Britain’s poor show in the Times Higher Education rankings is a direct result of the government’s financially reckless decision to try and keep out wealthy immigrants.

But this self-inflicted academic decline has been a long time coming, and no one on Downing Street should feign surprise that foreigners are finally starting to notice. Higher education groups say this can be reversed by a surge in university funding; however, unless Westminster opts to perform a serious U-turn on its immigration reform,

it’s safe to say that British universities will only continue to tumble further and further down the league tables.

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December 2022

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