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Jakarta Post

'Mayday, mayday, mayday!' for workers on May Day

Jakarta   /   Wed, May 2, 2018   /  10:55 am
'Mayday, mayday, mayday!' for workers on May Day Laboring in the street: Workers participate in a May Day rally in Jakarta on Tuesday. They demanded a raise in the minimum wage and the abolishment of outsourcing. (JP/Seto Wardhana)

You’re all familiar with the distress signal mayday, mayday, mayday used by aviators and mariners right? Yes, it has to be said three times in a row!

As May 1 approached, I thought I’d find out what the origin of this distress signal was. Did it have anything to do with May Day, the popular name for International Labor Day, celebrated on May 1 every year? 

As it turns out, it comes from the French m’aider (help me) short forvenezm’aider (come help me). In 1923, a senior radio officer in Croydon Airport, London, suggested this anglicized version of m’aider because the traffic between his airport and Le Bourget Airport in Paris was so heavy.

So what is International Labor Day about? 

From the late 19th century, labor movements and trade unions were looking ...

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.