In Kosovo, the status of International Workers Day, or Labour Day, as an official public holiday is in question. At present, it is a holiday under Kosovo’s Law on Official Holidays, but labour unions are challenging it.
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Oddly, it’s the labour unions, which usually support Labour Day in other countries, that are petitioning to remove it here in Kosovo. Why? Because, it is said, Labour Day is a “relic of the Yugoslav era” that Kosovo wants to move away from.
According to Kosovo’s union movement, Labour Day is at time to truly respect and petition for workers’ rights, such as more pay, safer work places, pensions, employee-provided health insurance, and maternity leave, not to continue the empty show of Communist Yugoslavia that gave only lip service, and holiday status, to the concerns of workers on 1 May.
The origin of this worldwide holiday is the 4 May 1886 Haymarket Massacre during a labour protest in Chicago, USA. As the world industrialised in the mid to late 1800’s, the dismal working conditions in many factories led to a protest movement.
The Haymarket Massacre became a key moment in the movement, leading to the establishment of Labour Day, then called “International Workers Day”, to demand things like an 8-hour work day, safer working conditions, and increased pay.