Tag der Arbeit

Mai 1st is a bank holiday here in Germany and also back home in Austria. It is called “Tag der Arbeit” (Labour Day) to commemorate those who fought for the rights of workers in the wake of industrialism and celebrate their successes.

It is high time to be back out on the streets again. To remind those in power and wealth of the one third of the German workforce, who can’t make ends meet any longer and face outright poverty in old age, according to current pension rules.

All those single parents struggling, despite a full time but minimum pay job. Or partime, even lesser paid jobs.  Those tricked out of their small, legal minimum wage by sly international players, forcing them into “self-employment” with all risk with those who actually provide the service, all profit for the big name they do it for. All those huge companies like Amazon, who hire small one-man deliverers, who exploit themselves to make a living. All the young people in unpaid or unfairly paid temp contracts. All the hotel chains paying their maids per room, with the target amount of rooms for one shift impossible to meet – so their minimum wage is never met, since the maids have to finish on their private time. All those East-European work-slaves on the fields or in slaughterhouses working hard jobs noone else is prepared to do on impossible terms. Because they are employed by a chain of contractors, noone controls. I could go on for a while longer. And all this happens right under our eyes and noses.

It is a shame. A society as rich as here should not tolerate this. But “Geiz ist geil” (stinginess is cool) and everbody always wants the best deal possible. Which in my eyes sometimes is even criminal to accept. So I wish, for this May 1st, that people spend a minute or two on those, who deliver all those convenient services 24/7 and value their efforts. Which are so often underpaid.

Go on, add an extra tip to the waiter or waitress today. Say thankyou to the person working at the gas station on a bank holiday. Bring flowers to the person caring for your ill or elderly. And next time, consider voting for a political party making themselves heard for workers rights. Can’t be that wrong.


6 thoughts on “Tag der Arbeit

  1. Good points and well expressed. We seem to have been on this downward spiral since . . . oh . . . 1980, I’d say. Working for a living became like rowing upstream against the current. At the start, it was still possible to get somewhere, but then the current kept gaining strength and now we are all floating backwards no matter how fast and hard we paddle . . .

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  2. You’re right. People need to be nicer to each other. Here in the UK the welfare state needs to be used to help those who need it, rather than those who use it as a lifestyle choice and a challenge to take as much for themselves as they can. There needs to be more respect and more kindness to people, and it should be every day, and any day is a good day to start

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    1. I think, part of this problem is, that work isn’t profitable, compared to a life on the dole. Same here in Germany. I blame the wages to be insanely low. Can’t be, that a third of the workforce has trouble to scrape by on what they earn with their labour. If it were back to a decent lifestyle and even some opportunity to better ones situation through hard work, as it used to be, when I was young, it might be better. More folks might want to strive for something.


  3. The labor market here in the USA is far worse for workers than in Germany. All the trends you speak of have gone much further and the results are appalling. Few people are even aware of May 1 as a holiday – instead we have Labor Day in September, which does not have the same international connections. Still, there are hopeful signs – like the recent teachers’ strikes and a more positive attitude toward socialism here among young adults.

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    1. High time it is, too! I can’t understand all the support for Potus45 among the working class. His policies are not in the least designed to help them.


      1. It’s the white working class, not the working class. He legitimizes and gives voice to their racial resentments. Plus his opposition to free trade, which has cost us many jobs, resonates with many.

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