Marking May Day: Pictures Of Workers Around The World

In much of the world, May 1 is International Workers Day, “a celebration of labourers and the working classes that is promoted by the international labour movement…”

(Don’t let this be confused with May 1 also being known as May Day, a pagan, artsy, springtime festival.)

International Workers Day was established in the late 1800s, promoted and born out of the Socialist ideology gaining popularity at the time. May 1 was chosen as the date in order to commemorate the Haymarket riots and bombing, which occurred in Chicago on May 4, 1886. But despite the American inspiration, the US chose for its Labor Day the first Monday in September, because President Cleveland wanted to distance the US from socialist movements.

But let’s get the politics out of the this.

Simply put, laborers have put societies on their backs since documented history. Around the world today, laborers come in various forms. I flipped through my images taken over the years to offer these shots of those getting their hands dirty everyday.


Workers building a lab at the Magulilwa village school in central Tanzania:

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Artisans making paper parasols outside Chiang Mai, Thailand:

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Factory workers in Zhuhai, China:

Eaten without expressionCooome aaaaand get it!

Being an American, I hadn’t experienced a May 1 Labor Day until I was abroad. It was Hong Kong on the weekend around May 1, 2011. There, I saw the area Filipinas get out their picnic baskets and enjoy the day off from their work as nannies.

A mommy on the left, as a matter of fact.  here

Old school-style American laborer making newspapers the old-fashioned way at the printing museum at the 2015 Minnesota State Fair:


New-school American labor can be technologically advanced, as this welding instructor at Hennepin Technical College will tell you:


American “labor  celebrity” Mike Rowe:

Mike Rowe

Hard labor in Iringa, Tanzania:

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Laborers at a quarry in Nairobi, Kenya. A local schoolmaster said this is where he recruits many of his grade-school students, whose parents work gathering stone:


Boat and net-makers and fishermen on Lake Malawi, Tanzania:

Making a toy boat

This way of life includes net-making, too. (Though they do use industrial material--nylon--for it.)DSC02541

Chinese fishermen:

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Fishing in Zanzibar:

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Boat delivery men on the floating villages of Cambodia:


Men delivering electric poles to power the village of Magulilwa, Tanzania for the first time:

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Harvest time in Magulilwa:

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Finally, enjoy this hodgepodge of hard-workers the world over:

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To all the laborers out there, please enjoy your Day. And to those of us who aren’t busting our backs everyday, how about we recognize our sweat-from-their-brow sisters and brothers by getting out there and doing a little hard work ourselves?

Looking outside my window, it looks like a great day for gardening:)

Happy International Workers Day!

What say you?