May Day is a public holiday in Ghana that occurs every year on 1 May. In other parts of the world it is also called Labour Day or International Workers’ Day.
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The main event on Labour Day in Ghana is a big parade put on by the Trade Union Congress. It involves both trade unions and the military, and the event is a major spectacle that people look forward to seeing each year.
The origin of the 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.
Ghana sees less political unrest around Labour Day than many other countries in Africa and around the world. There is a greater sense of unity and of working together for the common good, perhaps, than in many other places. The constitution of Ghana sets up many protections for workers and bans discrimination. Nonetheless, some workers’ rights issues persist and there may be a few small demonstrations.
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