May Day

May Day on May 1 is an ancient Northern Hemisphere spring festival and usually a public holiday; it is also a traditional spring holiday in many cultures. Dances, singing, and cake are usually part of the celebrations that the day includes – Wikipedia

It is not celebrated much in New Zealand, barely at all as far as I’m aware. Of course instead of Spring springing we have Autumn fairly well set in, most of the deciduous leaves have turned colour and fallen, and we don’t celebrate harvests either which are mostly finished already.

In the late 19th Century, May Day was chosen as the date for International Workers’ Day by the Socialists and Communists of the Second International to commemorate the Haymarket affair in Chicago. In those countries that celebrate International Workers’ Day, the day may also be referred to as “May Day” but it is a different celebration from the traditional May Day.

There may be a bit of minor recognition of International Workers’ Day in New Zealand but we have our own Labour Day in late October and even that isn’t recognised by most people by anything other than a long weekend.

Oddly Winston Peters spoke at an ‘International Workers’ Memorial Day Service’ on Wednesday:

Speech by New Zealand First Leader and Member of Parliament for Northland, Rt Hon Winston Peters

International Workers’ Memorial Day Service
Maritime Transport Union
Lower Hutt
11.45am, 28th April, 2015

Workers’ safety paramount

Thank you for inviting me to speak today on the occasion of International Workers’ Memorial Day.

Today is a day to remember all those workers who have paid with the lives, and those who have been hurt on the job.

The Unite Union is marking today with a picket protest

McDonald’s workers need support on May Day

Unite Union is calling on all New Zealanders to give support to McDonald’s workers this Friday, May 1st by tooting their support when they see pickets outside stores and not buying a burger on that day.

Help the McDonald’s workers stand up to bullying and intimidation on May Day – international workers day.

And news this morning says this won’t go ahead, there’s an agreement been reached with McDonalds.

McDonald’s ends zero hour contracts

McDonald’s and the Unite Union have come to an agreement over zero hours contracts – they’re gone.

Union director Mike Treen says it means that now all the major fast food chains have committed to ending zero hours.

That’s where staff must be on standby for work with no guarantee of being called in.

He describes the deal as historic.

Planned strikes are now off – in some cases gatherings are likely to turn into victory celebrations.

Meanwhile for most New Zealanders it will be a fairly normal Friday.