Every 1 May is Labour Day in Timor Leste. This day represents the industriousness and creativity of the workers of Timor Leste. It recognises how they contribute to the social fabric and economic development of their homeland.
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There may be a few Labour Day parades or even protests some years. The main events take place in Dili, the capital and largest city. In Dili, you may find work fairs workshops, and open-air political and labour speeches going on.
The origin of the holiday is the 4 May 1886 Haymarket Massacre during a labour protest in Chicago, USA. As the world industrialised in the mid to late 1800’s, the dismal working conditions in many factories led to a protest movement.
The Haymarket Massacre became a key moment in the movement, leading to the establishment of Labour Day, then called “International Workers Day”, to demand things like an 8-hour work day, safer working conditions, and increased pay.
On this day off, people may head to public beaches like those at Baucau or on Atauro Island. Or, they may visit the Cristo Rei Statute and Resistance Museum in Dili or the national wildlife park on uninhabited Jaco Island. At home, people will cook up a special meal for family and friends and spend some time socialising before resting up for a hard day’s work next morning.