Labor Day (Labour Day) is a public holiday in Pakistan that
is marked by rallies, marches, processions, labor/worker union sessions and
organized street demonstrations. It is sometimes referred to as May Day and is
annually held on May 1.
What Do People Do?
Labor unions throughout Pakistan organize seminars, rallies and parades where
union leaders deliver speeches emphasizing the history of Labor Day and its
importance. Workers and unions arrange street processions, and this portrays
solidarity with workers around the world.
Pakistan is a developing country but the current scenario has improved compared
to previous times. However, workers still do not enjoy as many rights as enjoyed
by workers in more developed/industrialized countries. Many organized street
demonstrations take place on Labor Day, where workers and labor unions protest
against labor repression and demand for more rights, better wages and benefits.
Labor Day is a public holiday in Pakistan on May 1st. All government and
non-government organizations, factories and educational institutions remain
closed. Laborers may willingly work on Labor Day, with or without payment of
higher than normal wages.
Public transport may be less frequent on certain routes. Those wishing to travel
in Pakistan via public transport during Labor Day should check with the local
transport authorities before travelling. Many important avenues and streets are
blocked to accommodate Labor Day parades and processions. Therefore, there may
be traffic jams at certain times of day on certain routes.
Pakistan’s first labor policy was devised in 1972, in which May 1 was declared
an official holiday. This policy also formulated the creation of the Social
Security Network, Old Age Benefit Schemes and Workers Welfare Fund. Pakistan’s
constitution also contains various provisions and articles about labor rights.
It is important to note that Pakistan became a member of the International
Labour Organization (ILO) right after its independence in 1947. The ILO is a
United Nations (UN) specialized agency that promotes social justice and
universally acknowledged human and social rights. Pakistan has ratified 36 ILO
conventions of which eight are core conventions.
There are no specific symbols associated with Labor Day in Pakistan. Images of
hammers and sickles are frequently seen on placards and banners carried by
workers during Labor Day parades and rallies.
About Labour Day in other countries
May Day, or Labor Day, is a public holiday in many countries worldwide. It
usually occurs around May 1, but the date varies across countries. It is
associated the start of spring as well as the celebration of workers.
Celebrate May Day/Labor Day
May Day ceremonies that stem from the traditional centuries-old May Day
traditions are celebrated across the world. In Hawaii, May Day is known as Lei
Day to celebrate the island’s culture.
In the United Kingdom, May Day is still celebrated in many towns with the
crowning of the May Queen. Maypoles can still be found in some towns and May Day
traditions may include hobby horses and local people dressed in costumes. In
Oxford, traditions are upheld for May Day celebrations, starting with the choir
of Magdalen College singing from the top of the chapel tower.
Labor Day stems from the efforts of the labor union movement to celebrate the
economic and social achievements of workers. In Mexico, it is referred to as
Primero de Mayo, and is a national holiday honoring workers. Some groups
organize parades or protests to promote and protect workers’ rights.
May 1st is a national holiday many European countries including (but not
exclusive to): Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Poland, Slovakia,
Slovenia, Spain and Sweden. It is also celebrated in countries in Central
America, such as Costa Rica and Panama, and in some parts of the Caribbean,
including Cuba. It is also a national holiday in Mexico. In South America, it is
observed in countries such as: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador,
Guyana, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela. May 1 is also a national holiday in the
Russian Federation and Asian countries such as China, Thailand, and Vietnam.
The Labor Day holiday, or Labour Day, is celebrated in the United States and
countries such as Australia and Canada at different times of the year.
About May Day/Labor Day
Originally a celebration of spring and the rebirth taking place in nature, May
Day dates back pagan cults that worshipped trees and other symbols of nature.
Traditionally, May Day is characterized by the gathering of flowers and the
fertility rite of dancing around the maypole. In recent years, particularly in
socialist and Communist countries, May Day has become a labor festival honoring
the military and industrial efforts of the country.
The eight-hour movement to reduce the working day from 10 to eight hours began
after the Civil War. It was a major aim of the National Labor Union, whose first
congress met in 1866. By 1868 congress and six states passed an eight-hour
legislation. In 1884 the National Federation of Organized Trades and Labor
Assemblies decided to call for a general strike on May 1, 1886, to enforce
demands for employers to observe the eight-hour day. In 1947, amidst the
anti-Communist Cold War hysteria, the US Veterans of Foreign Wars renamed May 1
as “Loyalty Day” and a joint session of Congress later made the pronouncement
In many countries, the May 1st holiday was obtained by trade union agitation
supported by socialist parties. However, in Germany where such agitation had
proved fruitless, it was instituted in 1933 as a gift from Hitler, being
promptly followed by the abolition of trade unions. In the United Kingdom, a May
Day Bank Holiday was instituted in 1978 for trade unionists to celebrate, but
was held on the first Monday in May to minimize the damage to business.
In China, Labor Day was extended to 3 days during the 1990s. The Chinese
government made it a seven-day holiday by moving the prior and upcoming weekends
together with these three days. This holiday allowed millions of Chinese people
to travel during this period. The Chinese government reduced this holiday period
down to one day in 2008, while simultaneously reviving three traditional Chinese
holidays: the Dragon Boat Festival, Tomb-Sweeping Day and the Mid-Autumn
Symbols and Superstition
Many ancient customs associated with May Day come from the old Roman festival of
flowers. These include gathering branches and flowers, choosing or crowning a
May Queen and dancing around a bush, tree or decorated pole (the May Pole). The
sports and festivities held on this day symbolize the rebirth of nature as well
as human fertility. In Spain, a tall pine tree is used as a Maypole. It is
decorated with ribbons, beads, and eggshells as people dance around the pole and
sing May songs