well-being depends on those who work to provide the goods and services that allow
its citizens to lead productive and healthy lives. Often throughout history, societies
have been divided into different classes, with one class typically having to do
much of the work that keeps that society running. Employers and governments have
not always treated the working classes well - often workers had to work long hours,
in hazardous conditions for little pay.
labor movement arose in Europe during the Industrial Revolution in the 18th and
early 19th centuries, beginning with working people organizing into groups called
labor unions and trade unions. With strength in numbers, workers had a better
chance to convince employers and governments to treat them more fairly. The movement
met with great resistance from the priviledged classes. But by the late 1800s
it began to grow into a worldwide movement after Pope Leo XIII advocated reforms
for the working class, including the elimination of child labor, the right for
workers to organize into unions, to have shorter work days and liveable wages.
although there are still sweatshops and other inhumane working conditions for
many workers around the world, the labor movement has won numerous victories that
many of us take for granted, such as the 5-day work week, 8-hour work day, paid
holidays and the end of child labor.
of the world celebrates May 1 as International Workers' Day, a time to celebrate
the victories that have been won to make many workers' lives safer and more sustainable,
and to rally around workers' rights to insist that all workers are treated fairly.
Even though this date commemorates the US labor movement's demand for an eight-hour
work day to come into effect on May 1, 1886, in the United States the labor force
is celebrated on Labor Day on the first Monday in September.
International Labor Organization is the UN specialized agency which works to protect
workers' rights throughout the world. Founded in 1919, it is the only surviving
major creation of the Treaty of Versailles which created the League of Nations.