• Every year 1st May is observed as May Day and is also known as International Labour Day worldwide.
  • The day is observed as an occasion to commemorate the contributions of labourers and the working class.
  • The International Labour Organization, a United Nations agency, works towards setting international labour standards.

Important points:

  • Labour Day has its origins in the labour union movement in the United States in the 19th Century.
  • However, the USA and Canada celebrate Labour day on the first Monday of September, every year.
  • Labour day was designated as a day in support of workers by trade unions and socialist groups in the memory of the Haymarket affair of 1886 in Chicago, USA.
  • Haymarket Affair was a peaceful rally in support of workers which led to a violent clash with the police, leading to severe casualties. Those who died were hailed as “Haymarket Martyrs”.
  • Workers’ rights violations, straining work hours, poor working conditions, low wages and child labour were the issues highlighted in the protest.
  • May Day was first celebrated on 1st May, 1890, after it was declared by the first International Congress of Socialist Parties in Europe in July 1889.
  • The Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc nations started celebrating the Labour day after the Russian Revolution, 1917.
  • New ideologies such as Marxism and Socialism inspired many socialist and communist groups and they attracted peasants and workers and made them an integral part of national movement.
  • The first Labour’s Day was celebrated in 1923 in Chennai. This day was observed by the Labour Kisan Party of Hindustan.
  • On this day, communist leader Malayapuram Singaravelu Chettiar asked the government that 1st May should be considered as a national holiday to symbolise the efforts and work of the workers.
  • This day is also known as Kamgar Divas, Kamgar Din and Antarrashtriya Shramik Divas in India.

Constitutional Provisions Related to Labour

Indian constitution provides numerous safeguards for the protection of labour rights. These safeguards are in the form of fundamental rights and the Directive principle of State policy.

  1. Article 14 commands the State to treat any person equally before the law.
  2. Article (19) (1) (c) grants citizens the right to form associations or unions.
  3. Article 21 promises protection of life and personal liberty.
  4. Article 23 prohibits forced labour.
  5. Article 24 prohibits employment of children below the age of fourteen years.
  6. Article 39(a) provides that the State shall secure to its citizens equal right to an adequate means of livelihood.
  7. Article 41 provides that within the limits of its economic capacity the State shall secure for the Right to work and education.
  8. Article 42 instructs the State to make provisions for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief.
  9. Article 43 orders the State to secure a living wage, decent conditions of work and social and cultural opportunities to all workers through legislation or economic organisation.
  10. Article 43A provides for the participation of workers in Management of Industries through legislation.

Legal Provisions

Parliament has passed 3 labour code bills aimed at labour welfare reforms covering more than 50 crores organized and unorganized workers in the country.

These three Bills are

  1. Social Security Code, 2020.
  2. Code on Occupational Safety, Health & Working Conditions Code, 2020
  3. Industrial Relations Code, 2020


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