Celebrating May Day: Images Of Workers Around The World

May Day, Bolivia
Today is May Day, when the world celebrates the struggles and sacrifices of the common worker. Like this cheese seller in Tupiza, Bolivia, photographed by Gadling’s resident cheese expert Laurel Miller. After some hard hours making her product, this woman comes to the market hoping to sell it all before the day is through. She uses a plastic bag on a stick to keep the flies away.

A range of unions and workers’ parties declared May Day a workers’ holiday in 1898. The date commemorated a three-day general strike in the U.S. that started on May 1, 1886, during which workers demanded an eight-hour day. Police fired into a protest by employees at the McCormick-International Harvester Company and killed three. On May 4, workers staged a protest against the killings at Haymarket Square, Chicago. A bomb went off and the police charged into the demonstrators. At least a dozen people died that day, including seven officers. Eight activists were sentenced to hang for the bombing, although there was widespread criticism about the lack of evidence.

American workers eventually got an eight-hour day, but it took several more major demonstrations and lots more people getting hurt. Many countries still don’t offer the benefits we now take for granted. Traveling around the world we come across people in lots of different lines of work. Some jobs are good, some are bad, and some are downright grueling. I’ll never forget a man I saw on a construction site in Damascus, Syria, back in 1994.

A crew was digging a deep trench into the sidewalk near our hotel, and every day my travel companions and I would pass by. Most of the men were down in the trench digging, but one guy had the job of sitting on an upturned bucket at street level manning a pump to take away water from the trench. He pulled on a rope attached to a pulley overhead, which yanked a crude pump at the bottom of the excavation. He’d set up a rhythm and sat there pulling all day. We saw him, every morning, noon, and evening, for days on end. We dubbed him, “The Man With the Most Boring Job in the World.”

I regret I never talked to him. While I’ve had my share of soul-destroying jobs, I bet he could have taught me a thing or two about what it means to work for a living. So Happy May Day, Man With the Most Boring Job in the World, and Happy May Day to all the other workers photographed in this gallery of shots by Gadling bloggers and members of the Gadling Flickr pool!

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Man flies to London hidden beneath airplane

A 20-year-old Romanian man is lucky to be alive after he was discovered hidden inside the rear wheel compartment of a jet arriving this week in London. The stowaway, who was apparently looking for work, braved low oxygen and outside air temperatures during the flight as low as 40 below zero. Upon his discovery at London’s Heathrow Airport, he was covered in bruises and showing signs of hypothermia, but thankfully still alive.

How exactly did a man manage to sneak inside a plane? And how did he make it through the experience? It turns out through a remarkable mix of luck, daring and stupidity. The man apparently climbed under a fence at Vienna’s Schwechat airport, hiding himself beneath a private jet that had been parked there since last week. He also lucked out with the flight plan – the plane had to fly at a lower-than-normal altitude to avoid bad weather, allowing the man to survive what would normally be a fatal combination of cold and lack of air.

UK authorities were surprised by the man’s unexpected arrival, though they declined to press charges. As Romania is part of the European Union, the “passenger” was technically allowed to visit on holiday. He was cautioned and freed with no further action. Frankly, this traveler is lucky to have survived the ordeal, let alone gotten off without legal action.

Next time you’re ready to complain about that horrible experience on your last flight, you might want to think again. Somebody out there has definitely had it much worse.

(Image: Flickr/Lili Vieira de Carvalho’s)