Monthly Archives: May 2024

Shall we carry on with Labour Day?

Today, known as “International Workers’ Day” or May Day”, is dedicated to workers’ achievements; it’s a public holiday in many countries, e.g. Australia and France. In the USA, Labour Day is on the first Monday of September. Demonstrations and campaigns for workers’ rights are part of the celebration.

In the 1980s-90s, in Australia, I participated in the annual Labour Day march in Brisbane. It wasn’t only the time for me to rest from my paid job but to show solidarity and appreciate the significant contributions of workers and the labour movement in improving working conditions. I can’t remember someone questioning me about its relevance or the media’s scrutiny of it being a public holiday. Lately, there have been remarks that it is just another excuse to stay home. How many organisations and individuals use this day to recognise and honour the labour movement’s contributions to securing workers’ rights, fair wages, and safe working conditions?

Have working conditions improved since its birth in 1886? It depends on where you are. Then, there’s the industry. “Technology is moving faster than companies can design and scale up their training programmes”, the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report ( discloses. According to this report, AI is a crucial employment disrupter; other factors include the green transition and geo-economic conditions.

​Generative AI will increase productivity and innovation in high-income countries​. In contrast, developing countries will continue to lag and experience increased unemployment. Demanded know-how will become even more critical​; hence, will there be equitable resourcing for skills development? It’s the old story again—the rich have the means to better themselves. Will Labour Day observances and marches impact the workplace undergoing employment shuffles due to technological changes?

​How attractive and useful are labour​ unions​ in our current digitalised world? Are their tactics and demands ​reasonable and justified? ​If we had to change ​”Labour Day​” to reflect our modern day, what would that be?​ (Labour force includes the employed and unemployed people who are working or willing to work​, while workforce consists of ​individuals who are engaged in some work and excludes those who are eager to work but ​can’t find ​or get work​).

Labour Day is a reminder of the ongoing struggles for social and economic justice — wherever you are and in whatever industry you’re in (high-tech or no tech)!