Labor Day
May 1

By Jessica Chilián
Photography by Cultura Colectiva

Reading Time: 3 minutes


Labor Day has been commemorated internationally since 1889, as a tribute to these anarchist union workers from Chicago, on May 1, the workers’ struggle for their labor rights is vindicated. With the passage of time, the commemoration of this date became a traditional celebration, which shows that the struggle to improve the working conditions of the workers continues.

After the Industrial Revolution, large factories were established, industrial cities appeared, and with all this change a new social class also emerged: the working class. At first, working conditions were deplorable, as people (including women and children) were forced to work working hours of up to 18 hours, and wages were extremely low. Thus, man always had to fight for better working conditions.

During the Mexican Revolution, the Casa del Obrero Mundial unified several labor organizations. Its members decided to publicly commemorate May 1 as International Labor Day from 1913. That year the first workers’ parade was held on May 1, in which more than 25 thousand workers participated. During the post-revolutionary period, the Mexican labor organizations grew in number and strength.

In Mexico, it was until the promulgation of the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States (February 5, 1917), when the rights of workers were recognized and protected by law. In Article 123, some of the rights of workers were established, among which is: the eight-hour workday, one day of rest for every six days of work, fair wages, the right to form associations and unions, right to share in company profits and social security. A Federal Labor Law was also made to regulate labor relations between workers and employers.

The right to work is a fundamental and essential right for the exercise of other human rights and constitutes an inseparable and inherent part of human dignity. Everyone has the right to work in order to live with dignity. Likewise, it is necessary to continue working to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), or the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), where the work is based on the recognition of the inherent dignity of all members of the human family and its equal and inalienable rights as stated in its 6th article, as well as the recognition of the rights of workers in relation to conditions of job security and remuneration, that is, to receive a fair and just salary that allows them to live and ensure the life of their families, rest and enjoyment of their free time, as outlined in article 7 of the same document. These fundamental rights also include respect for the physical and mental integrity of the worker in the exercise of their employment, the right to social security, the right to form unions, the right to strike, among others.

At present, where socio-economic conditions and labor relations have been modified in the transition from an industrialized society to an information technology society, successive labor reforms of flexibility and deregulation in the framework of globalization have precarious employment conditions. life, polarizing the scarce jobs between insurance and subcontractors, undermining labor justice and generating exclusion due to the functional illiteracy of some workers in the face of rapid technological innovations among other aspects. It is essential to recover the meaning of work, placing it at the center of social values ​​and applying human rights defense mechanisms that allow for the development and dignified life of people.

Today in Mexico, the commemoration of May 1 is a traditional celebration, which shows that the struggle to improve the working conditions of workers is still in force, this day there is no work; There is a parade of workers, others prefer to organize protest marches, in which the workers take advantage of and express their disagreements before the authorities, hoping that they will listen to them and help them.


Federal Attorney for Labor Defense
National Commission for Human Rights