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Workers Day (Public Holiday)

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Workers Day (Public Holiday)

Workers Day is a public holiday that commemorates the working class

Last Updated: 24 April 2018

Workers Day is a national public holiday in South Africa observed on 1 May, much like May Day, where it serves to pay homage to the working class of the nation.

SOME HISTORY

Following the first democratic elections in South Africa in 1994, 1 May was inaugurated as an official national public holiday. Known as International Workers’ Day (also as May Day), the holiday is widely celebrated, with as many as 80 countries honouring the date and what it stands for.

The history of Workers’ Day goes back to the 1886 Haymarket Affair in Chicago, where police tried to disperse a large crowd of striking workers (they were protesting for a shorter work day of eight hours). A bomb was thrown at the policemen by an unidentified assailant, and law officers then proceeded to fire live ammunition at a defenceless crowd of unarmed strikers (sound familiar?).

Though, it wasn’t until 1891, after successful annual demonstrations on 1 May around the globe, that Workers’ Day was formally inducted into the official calendars of many countries.  Since then, Workers’ Day has been used by the working class across the world, South Africa included, to emphasise the need to establish fair labour practices and employment standards. In our nation, the Communist Party, trade and labour unions were heavily entrenched in the fight against Apartheid. Thus, it was of little surprise that our democratic government chose to commemorate this day and its ideology after the fall of the oppressive regime.

POWER OF THE WORKING CLASS

While this public holiday doesn’t quite receive all the fuss it rightly deserves, it serves as a stark reminder to governments of the power of the working class. (To commemorate the day, some of the museums in Cape Town are closed on Workers Day).

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2018 PUBLIC HOLIDAYS IN SOUTH AFRICA
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JANUARY    
1 Jan New Year's Day Check out more events happening in January
MARCH    
21 Mar Human Rights Day  
30 Mar Good Friday  Check out more events happening in March
APRIL    
2 Apr Family Day  
27 Apr Freedom Day Check out more events happening in April
MAY    
1 May Workers' Day Check out more events happening in May
JUNE    
16 Jun Youth Day Check out more events happening in June
AUGUST    
9 Aug National Women's Day Check out more events happening in August
SEPTEMBER    
24 Sept Heritage Day Check out more events happening in September
DECEMBER    
16 Dec Day of Reconciliation  
25 Dec Christmas Day  
26 Dec Day of Goodwill Check out more events happening in December

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Check out what's happening in and around Cape Town with this overview of events taking place on Workers Day.

Find out what's happening this month with our roundup of May events.

May also means it's time to spoil Mom. Here are some Mother's Day events taking place around Cape Town.

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For more hot and happening things to do, check out the annual events in Cape Town or use our events section for an up-to-date overview of happenings in Cape Town. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter and if you have a smartphone, add m.capetownmagazine.com to your home screen for quick access on the go.

 

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