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Celebrating Workers: The History of Labour Day

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Today, people around the world come together to celebrate Labour Day, a holiday that honors the tireless efforts and sacrifices of workers who fought for their rights and shaped the modern workforce.

The history of Labour Day is a story of struggle, perseverance, and ultimate triumph.

In the late 19th century, the industrial revolution was in full swing, and workers were facing deplorable conditions, long hours, and meager wages. As the divide between the rich and the poor grew, workers began to organize and demand better treatment. The labour movement gained momentum, with protests and strikes erupting across the globe.

In 1886, the American Federation of Labor (AFL) was founded, and its leader, Samuel Gompers, became a champion for workers’ rights. The AFL advocated for an eight-hour workday, fair wages, and safer working conditions. Their efforts led to the first Labour Day celebration on September 5, 1882, in New York City.

The idea quickly spread, and Labour Day became an international phenomenon. In 1889, the International Labour Conference declared May 1 as the global Labour Day, solidifying the movement’s unity and strength.

Throughout the 20th century, workers continued to fight for their rights, and significant milestones were achieved. The Fair Labour Standards Act of 1938 established the eight-hour workday and overtime pay in the United States. The International Labour Organization (ILO) was founded in 1919, promoting social and economic justice worldwide.

Today, Labour Day is celebrated in over 100 countries, recognizing the contributions and achievements of workers. While challenges still exist, the progress made is a testament to the power of collective action and the unwavering spirit of workers.

When asked why we ought to commemorate labour day, Nkumba Universitu Vice Chancellor, Prof. Jude Lubega said that, “by doing so, we honor the pioneers who paved the way for fairer working conditions, equal pay, and social justice. We also acknowledge the ongoing struggles and recommit ourselves to protecting and advancing workers’ rights.”

In the words of Samuel Gompers, “Labour Day is a celebration of the working class, by the working class, and for the working class.”

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Japheth Godwin Walakira
Japheth Godwin Walakira
Japheth Godwin Walakira, is an exceptionally talented Journalism student at Nkumba University, specializing in photojournalism, video editing, and writing. With an acute eye for detail and an unwavering passion for storytelling, Japheth possesses a natural gift for capturing powerful images and crafting compelling narratives that captivate audiences. As a dedicated and skilled communicator, Japheth excels in collaborating with diverse teams to achieve common goals. His commitment to making a positive impact in the world of media is evident through his multifaceted roles. Not only is he a proficient Journalism student, but he also serves as the Public Relations Officer at the Rotaract Club of Nkumba University. Additionally, he holds the esteemed position of Information Minister for the School of Social Sciences at Nkumba University, showcasing his leadership and organizational skills. Furthermore, Japheth's influence extends to the realm of student governance, where he proudly serves as the Guild Information Minister at Nkumba University. His dedication, drive, and passion for media make him a standout individual, poised to create meaningful change and leave a lasting legacy in his field.
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