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Jim Maloway, MLA Elmwood
May 2, 2012

International Workers' Day

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to commemorate International Workers' Day, more commonly known as May Day, which was held across Canada and the world yesterday. May 1st has been designated to recognize the struggles undertaken and the victories won by working people throughout the world since 1889. May Day initially began in order to honour the 1886 general strike in the United States, which forced owners to recognize the eight-hour working day, in which over 350,000 people took part. During the 1886 general strike, an explosion in Chicago's Haymarket Square killed several policemen, and culminated in the unjust arrest, trial and execution of eight anarchist political prisoners who later became known as the Haymarket martyrs. Three years later in Paris, the International Workingmen's Association declared May 1st an international working class holiday to remember their sacrifice.

Mr. Speaker, May Day has a strong tradition in Winnipeg, including the march on May 1st, 1920, to protest the imprisonment of the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike leaders and the oppressive social, economic and political conditions of the day.

May Day parades were held in Winnipeg throughout the 1920s, '30s and '40s, attracting thousands of workers every year to march, speak and peacefully advocate social change. Since the revival of this tradition in the 1980s, May Day has evolved into Mayworks, which is a month-long festival of events intended to honour and promote the many contributions that working people and their organizations have made to progressive social change in our province and worldwide.

There are many events taking place as part of the 2012 Mayworks Festival. I would encourage all of my colleagues to attend as many as possible and to support working people in this province.

Mr. Speaker, the entire month of May is an important time to reflect on the benefits that organized labour has brought to all of our lives in terms of safer, more just working conditions, securing higher wages and many of our cherished social institutions. It's time to give thanks to the working people who struggled to create a better world for everyone, including those who took part in the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.