May Day or International Workers Day is the day marked globally (May 1) to recognise and celebrate the invaluable contribution of workers towards effective functioning of our economies and societies.

Acknowledging the importance of workers in New Zealand’s economy Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said, “Today, on international workers day, we celebrate the contributions of working New Zealanders to building a modern economy and to promoting workplaces that are productive and inclusive, fair and fit for the 21stCentury.

“This Government aims to ensure working New Zealanders are benefitting from the prosperity they have contributed to creating.

“I’m giving a big thank you today to all working New Zealanders for contributing to our successful economy. With your support this Government has been able to share the gains of prosperity by,” Mr Lees-Galloway said.

Lifting minimum wages first to $17.70 and up to $20 by 2021, Increasing Paid Parental Leave from 18 to 22 weeks and up to 26 weeks by 2020, and changing the Employment Relations Act that restores set meal and rest breaks at the workplace are a few steps that this government has taken in recent times.

Key facts about International Workers Day

The day has its origins in the labour union movement in the United States in the 19th century when the demands of eight hour working day, paid leaves, proper wages and breaks for the workforce were first demanded.

On May 1, 1886, workers took to the streets across the United States to reduce the workday to eight-hour shifts. The number eight has often been spotted on many union buildings in Australia to symbolise an eight-hour working day.

The International Workers Day annually celebrates the achievements of the workers. While the day has a different story for different countries, the main reason for Labour Day is unfair treatment of the labour class.