The history of May Day is a history of the struggle of working people to achieve a better way of life, decent pay, working conditions and for a society that meets the needs of the people.

The International Labour Holiday called May Day, actually originated in the United States in 1884 at a conference of U.S and Canadian Trade Unions.

The conference decided to launch an intensive campaign for the 8-hour day and to culminate the struggle on May 1st 1888.

This campaign led to a bitter struggle. There were 1,572 strikes involving 600,000 workers leading up to the May 1" demonstrations. Over half a million workers took part in the May 1" activities. Six workers were killed, 200 injured, others framed and hanged.

Subsiquently at an International Labour Congress in Paris a resolution was carried to declare May 1" 1890 a great day of workers International demonstrations throughout the World. Australian delegates were at this conference.

On this day in Australia large demonstrations were held in Queensland in Barcaldine and Ipswich by striking shearers. Over 1000 people took part, some 600 on horseback.

Three years after the first celebrations of May Day saw the adoption of socialism as one of the main aims of May Day and the recognition that workers can never be free of exploitation, injustice, and poverty while capitalism exists. 

In Victoria the Day was marked by a meeting at the Trades Hall Council. It was later decided to celebrate International May Day by the holding of a on the first Sunday of every May calling for better wages, working and living conditions, the end to imperialist wars and for Socialism.

May Day marches in Victoria started in 1893 and continued every year up to today, except for 1941 and 1942 (war time).

The Melbourne May Day Committee has continually made representations to the State Government to declare May 1st a public holiday, but only public awareness, support and pressure will finally achieve this demand.

Until then the May Day March is held traditionally on the first Sunday in May so that all members of the community have the opportunity to take part and demonstrate the broad range of issues that affect them.   

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