Labour Day

Labour Day (Labor Day in the United States) is an annual holiday to celebrate the achievements of workers. Labour Day has its origins in the labour union movement, specifically the eight-hour day movement, which advocated eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for rest.

Countries and dependencies coloured by observance of International Workers' Day or a different variant of May Day or Labour Day:
  Labour Day falls or may fall on 1 May
  Another public holiday on 1 May
  No public holiday on 1 May, but Labour Day on a different date
  No public holiday on 1 May and no Labour Day

For most countries, Labour Day is synonymous with, or linked with, International Workers' Day, which occurs on 1 May. For other countries, Labour Day is celebrated on a different date, often one with special significance for the labour movement in that country. Labour Day is a public holiday in many countries.

International Workers' Day

For most countries, "Labour Day" is synonymous with, or linked with, International Workers' Day, which occurs on 1 May. Some countries vary the actual date of their celebrations so that the holiday occurs on a Monday close to 1 May.

Some countries have a holiday at or around this date, but it is not a 'Labour day' celebration.

Other dates


A May Day parade in Brisbane in 2017

Labour Day in Australia is a public holiday on dates which vary between states and territories. It is the first Monday in October in the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales and South Australia. In Victoria and Tasmania, it is the second Monday in March (though the latter calls it Eight Hours Day). In Western Australia, Labour Day is the first Monday in March. In Queensland and the Northern Territory, Labour Day occurs on the first Monday in May (though the latter calls it May Day).[1] It is on the fourth Monday of March in the territory of Christmas Island.

The first march for an eight-hour day by the labour movement occurred in Melbourne on 21 April 1856.[2] On this day stonemasons and building workers on building sites around Melbourne stopped work and marched from the University of Melbourne to Parliament House to achieve an eight-hour day. Their direct action protest was a success, and they are noted as being among the first organised workers in the world to achieve an 8-hour day, with no loss of pay.[3]


Bangladesh Garment Sramik Sanghati, an organization working for the welfare of garment workers, has requested that 24 April be declared Labour Safety Day in Bangladesh, in memory of the victims of the Rana Plaza building collapse.[4][5]


Labour Day is a national holiday in the Bahamas, celebrated on the first Friday in June in order to create a long weekend for workers.[6] The traditional date of Labour Day in the Bahamas, however, is 7 June, in commemoration of a significant workers' strike that began on that day in 1942. Labour Day is meant to honor and celebrate workers and the importance of their contributions to the nation and society. In the capital city, Nassau, thousands of people come to watch a parade through the streets, which begins at mid-morning. Bands in colorful uniforms, traditional African junkanoo performers, and members of various labour unions and political parties are all part of the procession, which ends up at the Southern Recreation Grounds, where government officials make speeches for the occasion. For many residents and visitors to the Bahamas, the afternoon of Labour Day is a time to relax at home or perhaps visit the beach.[citation needed]


A Labour Day parade in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in the early 1900s
A Labour Day parade in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 2011

Labour Day (French: Fête du Travail) has been marked as a statutory public holiday in Canada on the first Monday in September since 1894. However, the origins of Labour Day in Canada can be traced back to numerous local demonstrations and celebrations in earlier decades.[7] Such events assumed political significance in 1872, when a labour demonstration in Toronto in April 1872, in support of striking printers, led directly to the enactment of the Trade Union Act, a law that confirmed the legality of unions. Ten years later, on 22 July 1882, a huge labour celebration in Toronto attracted the attention of the American labour leader Peter J. McGuire, who organized a similar parade in New York City on 5 September that year. Unions associated with the Knights of Labor and the American Federation of Labor in both Canada and the United States subsequently promoted parades and festivals on the first Monday in September. In Canada, local celebrations took place in Hamilton, Oshawa, Montreal, St Catharines, Halifax, Ottawa, Vancouver and London during these years. Montreal declared a civic holiday in 1889. In Nova Scotia, coal miners had been holding picnics and parades since 1880 to celebrate the anniversary of their union, the Provincial Workmen's Association, first organized in 1879. In addition, in 1889, the Royal Commission on the Relations of Labor and Capital in Canada recommended recognition of an official "labour day" by the federal government. In March and April 1894 unions lobbied Parliament to recognize Labour Day as a public holiday. Legislation was introduced in May by Prime Minister Sir John Thompson and received royal assent in July 1894.[8]

Since then, Labour Day has served both as a day of formal recognition for the labour movement and as a day of rest and recreation for all workers. While Labour Day parades and picnics are organised by unions, many Canadians regard Labour Day as the Monday of the last long weekend of summer. Non-union celebrations include picnics, fireworks displays, water activities, and public art events. Since the new school year generally starts right after Labour Day, families with school-age children take it as the last chance to travel before the end of summer.

An old fashioned tradition in Canada and the United States frowns upon the wearing of white after Labour Day. Explanations for this tradition vary; the most common is that white is a summer colour and Labour Day unofficially marks the end of summer. The rule may have been intended as a status symbol for new members of the upper and middle classes in the late 19th and early 20th century.[9]

A Labour Day tradition in Atlantic Canada is the Wharf Rat Rally in Digby, Nova Scotia, while the rest of Canada watches the Labour Day Classic, a Canadian Football League event where rivals like Calgary Stampeders and Edmonton Eskimos, Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Toronto Argonauts (except in 2011 and 2013, due to scheduling conflicts), and Saskatchewan Roughriders and Winnipeg Blue Bombers play on Labour Day weekend. Before the demise of the Ottawa Renegades after the 2005 season, that team played the nearby Montreal Alouettes on Labour Day weekend. Since the 2014 CFL season, when the Ottawa Redblacks began play, the Montreal–Ottawa Labour Day tradition has once again been observed. Likewise, Ontario University Athletics has a long-established tradition to play university football on Labour Day.

The Labour Day parade in Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland started in 1921 and still continues today, over 90 years later. The celebrations go on for three days with a parade on Labour Day Monday.


Rasoul Taleb Moghaddam, a member of syndicate of Tehran's bus drivers, received 74 lashes, the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company reported on 1 June 2020. Moghaddam was among a dozen workers arrested in a rally celebrating worker's day on 1 May 2019. Moghadam has been sentenced to 74 lashes and two years in prison.[10][11]


Before 1961, 24 May was celebrated in Jamaica as Empire Day in honour of the birthday of Queen Victoria and her emancipation of slaves in Jamaica.[12] As its name suggests, the day was used to celebrate the British Empire, complete with flag-raising ceremonies and the singing of patriotic songs. In 1961, Jamaican Chief Minister Norman Washington Manley proposed the replacement of Empire Day with Labour Day, a celebration in commemoration of 23 May 1938, when Alexander Bustamante led a labour rebellion leading to Jamaican independence.

In 1972, Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley promoted Labour Day as a showcase for the importance of labour to the development of Jamaica, and a day of voluntary community participation to beneficial projects.[12] Since then, Labour Day has been not only a public holiday but also a day of mass community involvement around the country.


In Japan, Labour Day is officially conflated with Thanksgiving on 23 November, as Labor Thanksgiving Day.[13]


Labor Day in Kazakhstan is celebrated on the last Sunday in September. The holiday was officially established in late 2013. In 1995, the government of Kazakhstan replaced International Workers' Day with Kazakhstan People's Unity Day. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev also instituted a special medal that is awarded to veterans of labor on the occasion of the holiday. Labor Day it is widely celebrated across the country with official speeches, award ceremonies, cultural events, etc. It is a non-working holiday for most citizens of Kazakhstan because it always falls on a weekend.[14]

New Zealand

In New Zealand, Labour Day is a public holiday held on the fourth Monday in October. Its origins are traced back to the eight-hour working day movement that arose in the newly founded Wellington colony in 1840, primarily because of carpenter Samuel Parnell's refusal to work more than eight hours a day. He encouraged other tradesmen also to work for only eight hours a day and in October 1840, a workers' meeting passed a resolution supporting the idea. On 28 October 1890, the 50th anniversary of the eight-hour day was commemorated with a parade. The event was then celebrated annually in late October as either Labour Day or Eight-Hour Demonstration Day. In 1899 government legislated that the day be a public holiday from 1900. The day was celebrated on different days in different provinces. This led to ship owners complaining that seamen were taking excessive holidays by having one Labour Day in one port then another in their next port. In 1910 the government stipulated that the holiday would be observed on the same day throughout the nation.



Trinidad and Tobago

In Trinidad and Tobago, Labour Day is celebrated every 19 June. This holiday was proposed in 1973[15] to be commemorated on the anniversary of the 1937 Butler labour riots.

United States

First US Labor Day Parade, 5 September 1882 in New York City

In the United States, Labor Day is a federal holiday observed on the first Monday of September. It is customarily viewed as the end of the summer vacation season.[16] Many schools open for the year on the day after Labor Day.[17]


  1. ^ "Australian Government: National Public Holidays". Retrieved 7 March 2016.
  2. ^ "Australian Public Holidays: Labour Day". 1998. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
  3. ^ Lewis, Wendy; Balderstone, Simon; Bowman, John (2006). Events that Shaped Australia. New Holland Publishers. p. 57. ISBN 978-1-74110-492-9. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
  4. ^ "Thousands mourn collapse victims of Rana Plaza garment factory one year on". Deutsche Welle. 24 April 2014. Retrieved 20 July 2014.
  5. ^ "Bangladesh Official Public Holidays". Official Public Holidays. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  6. ^ "Holidays in The Bahamas in 2015". Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  7. ^ Gagnon, Marc-André. "Labour Day in Canada". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 7 September 2020.
  8. ^ Heron, Craig; Penfold, Steve (2005). The Workers’ Festival: A History of Labour Day in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. pp. 31–38. ISBN 0-8020-4886-2.
  9. ^ FitzPatrick, Laura (8 September 2009). "Why We Can't Wear White After Labor Day". Time Magazine. Archived from the original on 3 March 2011. Retrieved 25 February 2011.
  10. ^ "Labor Rights Activist Receives 74 Lashes In Tehran's Notorious Prison". Radio Farda. 1 June 2020. Retrieved 18 September 2020.
  11. ^ Iranian Labor Activist Flogged, Detained for Celebrating May Day
  12. ^ a b "History of Labour Day". National Labour Day 2008. Jamaica Information Service. Archived from the original on 10 September 2009. Retrieved 21 July 2008.
  13. ^ Miller, Adam (22 November 2011). "Labor Thanksgiving Day – 勤労感謝の日". Axiom Magazine. Retrieved 22 November 2011.
  14. ^ "Labor Day in Kazakhstan / September 24, 2017". AnydayGuide. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  15. ^ Trinidad and Tobago Labour Day Archived 7 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Johnson, Yelena. Labor Day End of Summer White Party, Retrieved 5 October 2009.
  17. ^ Helderman, Rosalind S. "Issues That Matter to You: School Start After Labor Day"; The Washington Post, 6 September 2009.

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