May 1st International Workers’ Day is a day celebrated worldwide. On this important day, solidarity and unity are felt, and workers struggle against injustices. This day is considered an official holiday in many countries. International Workers’ Day was celebrated officially for the first time in Turkey in 1923. Let’s take a look at the history of this important day in the World and Turkey.
International Workers’ Day was first celebrated in Melbourne, Australia in 1856. Construction and stone workers marched from the University of Melbourne to Parliament to reduce working hours. Of course, many disturbances took place to make this important day a celebration. On May 1st, 1886, the workers, under the leadership of the “Confederation of American Trade Unions”, quit their jobs due to their long working hours. The workers wanted to work 8 hours a day, instead of 6 days and 12 hours. Nearly 500,000 workers participated in these demonstrations. Black and white workers walked together. Although the parks in Luizcil were closed, the fact that all the workers accessed the National Park together and that all the workers struggled shoulder to shoulder to destroy the walls of prejudice. These marches and demonstrations continued until May 4th. This incident led to the Haymarket Incident, and many deaths occurred. It was prevented from repeating along with legal pressures. It was then decided to celebrate the day as a “Day of unity, struggle and solidarity” in 1889 by the suggestion of a French worker representative at the Second International. Thus, the second demonstration was held in 1890. The 8-hour working hour was adopted in many countries. Today, socialist and many other countries, May 1st, continues to be celebrated in the crowds.
May 1st celebrations began to be celebrated between the years 1850-1890 around the World, this important day in the Ottoman Empire was celebrated unofficially in 1911. This celebration was carried out by the port, cotton and tobacco workers in Thessaloniki. The celebration took place in 1912 in Istanbul. But because of the War of Independence and World War I, May 1st International Workers’ Day was not celebrated for a long time. After this long hiatus, celebrations took place in 1921. At the request of the Socialist Party of Turkey, the first Sunday of May became a public holiday. Hüseyin Hilmi Bey and delegates visited the grand vizier. Thus, on May 1st, 1922, it was celebrated again in the framework of friendship with the Soviet Union. In May 1st, 1923, it was officially celebrated for the first time. But in 1924, this important day was again banned. Law on the Maintenance Order, enacted in 1925, has led the May 1st to be prohibited until May 1935. After the proclamation of the Republic, May 1st was accepted as the “Spring Festival”. Large-scale celebrations did not take place for 50 years. The first open May Day celebration took place in 1975 at a casino in Tepebaşı. This celebration was followed by a comprehensive celebration in 1976 by DİSK(Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey). “Bloody May 1st” in 1977, has caused a special meaning to Taksim Square. More than 500,000 workers participated in “Bloody May 1st”. The unknown shooters shotted the workers from the Intercontinental Hotel and the Waterworks building. Many people were crushed and attempted to escape from Kazancı Slope along with the brawl. “Bloody May 1st” became the symbol of Taksim Square after this date. Memorial ceremonies were held in 1978. Despite the curfew in 1979, thousands of workers celebrated this day. During the martial law period in 1980, celebrations could not be made. In 1981, the National Security Council abdicated May 1st Labor Day as an official holiday. Thirty years after, September 12th in 2009, “Labor and Solidarity Day” was announced as a holiday. May 1st was illegally celebrated, and incidents occurred many times in the 30-year period during which it was forbidden. The most remarkable event was the 1996 Kadikoy celebrations. Three people lost their lives and the disproportionate force used to cause the situation to be mixed up. As a result of these events, it was forbidden to celebrate May 1st in Kadıköy until 2005. In 2006, there was no incident at the celebrations. After these events, a large celebration took place in 2010. According to official figures, 140 thousand people, according to informal figures, 500 thousand people participated in these celebrations. Until 2013, the celebrations took place under intense police surveillance. In 2013, “Taksim Square Pedestrianization Project” was closed because of the demonstrations.