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This is our official Labour Day – Hayward

The first day in May will always be “our official Labour Day”, union leader Jason Hayward told hundreds of marchers yesterday.

About 300 workers had responded to a May Day rallying cry from the Bermuda Trade Union Congress by showing up at Victoria Park before marching through Hamilton throughout the afternoon.

Bermuda's Labour Day celebrations take place in September, but last week the BTUC issued a call for support on May Day, claiming it was “ironic” that union leaders faced court charges on International Workers' Day.

Mr Hayward, who succeeded Chris Furbert as president of the BTUC last month and is also president of the Bermuda Public Service Union, led the march.

Addressing the crowd at Victoria Park, he said that regardless of the “powers that be” instituting Labour Day in September, “May 1 will always be International Workers' Day and our official Labour Day”.

International Workers' Day, or May Day, commemorates the 1886 Haymarket Massacre in Chicago — a peaceful workers' demonstration that erupted into violence — and represents the historic struggle of working people throughout the world.

Mr Hayward said: “A hundred years later, the workers are still under attack.

“In 1982, with much pressure from the PLP, the UBP established the first holiday. For years we pushed for a May 1 holiday but the powers that be voted in our best interests to align with the US holiday in September. “Whatever day they chose to select, May 1 will always be International Workers' Day and our official Labour Day.”

May Day is not recognised in the United States, Canada, and South Africa. Last year in Bermuda, the BTUC marked May Day with a symposium discussing the topic “What is a Living Wage?”; in 2015, the union held a rally outside City Hall; in 2014, the People's Campaign organised a May Day rally and march on Parliament.

Opposition leader David Burt, who was present at the march yesterday, said that it was important for his party to support labour values.

“The union partners have organised something and we support the unions,” Mr Burt said.

“The PLP is a labour party and from that perspective, as I said inside of our Throne Speech Reply, we are born out of the labour movement and we will continue to support the unions and to support the aims and objectives of organised labour, for equality, fairness and justice — all things that a modern democracy requires.

“I think there are very large issues that the unions have brought up, especially when we are talking about income and inequality.

“On the day of International Workers' Day, when there are people celebrating this day around, the world I think it is particularly important.”

BTUC President Jason Hayward (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published May 02, 2017 at 9:00 am (Updated May 02, 2017 at 7:54 am)

This is our official Labour Day – Hayward

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