May Day (May 1st) is a day to recognize, celebrate, and demonstrate workers’ historic and ongoing struggles. Also known as International Workers’ Day, May Day symbolizes the common struggles of workers everywhere. Historically, May 1st signifies the gains workers achieved in the late 19th century in North America. Workers were faced with unsafe working environments and long hours which led to workplace injuries and fatalities. Workers had had enough with these unjust conditions and fought back to demand an 8 hour work day with no cut in pay. Thousands of workers took to the streets and many workers lost their lives in this struggle. In 2019, Canada celebrates a particularly monumental May Day as this May, we recognize the 100th anniversary of the Winnipeg General Strike.
The Winnipeg General Strike is a significant part of our working-class history. In May and June of 1919, more than 30,000 workers went on strike for six weeks. The strike grew out of frustrations with the inequities at work, including rising prices and stagnant wages, and a government that worked on behalf of employers, and not workers. Together, workers stood in unison to demand better, but not without backlash. Two workers were killed and many were injured as they fought for working-class justice, and when we remember that people put their lives on the line for the rights we enjoy today, we understand that we cannot take anything we’ve gained for granted. We must therefore celebrate but also recognize there is an urgent need for us to keep up the fight for our rights today. To learn more, visit the Building A Better World: 1919-2019 Winnipeg General Strike 100th Anniversary website.
To get involved in a local May Day event, click on the links below (email [email protected] if you have another event to add):
Regina – May Works Week
Saskatoon - May Day 2019