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Jim Maloway, MLA Elmwood
May 1, 2013

May Day

I rise in recognition of International Workers' Day. May Day is a worldwide commemoration taking place on the first day of May each year. Since 1891, this day has been used to raise collective awareness of the struggles and victories of the labour movement everywhere.

At its inception, May Day set out to honour the 1886 American general strike. Amongst the chaos, an explosion in Chicago's Haymarket Square killed several police officers. This culminated in the unjust arrest, trial and execution of eight anarchist political prisoners. The more than 350,000 demonstrators pushed employers to recognize the eight-hour workday. Three years later, the International Workingmen's Association proclaimed May 1 an international working class holiday to remember the prisoners' sacrifice.

Mr. Speaker, in Winnipeg, there is a strong tradition of remembering May Day. On May 1, 1920, a march was held to protest the imprisonment of Winnipeg General Strike participants, as well as the oppressive social, political and economic conditions of the time. From the 1920s and through to the 1940s, May Day parades were held in Winnipeg, attracting thousands of supporters every year. Their march peacefully advocated for social change.

Today we see this tradition revitalized in the form of a month-long festival known as MayWorks, honouring and promoting the many contributions of working people and their organizations toward progressive social change in our province and worldwide. This year's theme, Another World Is Possible, will highlight recent activist movements.

Mr. Speaker, May Day allows us to reflect on the benefits that organized labour has brought to all of our lives: safer and more equitable working conditions, improved wages, including minimum wages, and many of our beloved social institutions. The working people among them who took part in the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike deserve our sincere thanks. I encourage all Manitobans to attend MayWorks and never forget this important piece of our history.

Thank you.