Work has been celebrated since the end of the 18th century. This «International Labour Day», or Labor Day, as it is celebrated today on May 1, finds its origin in the struggles of the workers’ movements to obtain the eight-hours a day, at the end of the 19th century. Unfortunately, if those who fought for this right more than 200 years ago came to Luxembourg today to visit the Financial Sector, we are used to saying that they would no doubt be horrified. For many Employees, eight-hours a day is often only a souvenir, if they have ever known it. Downsizing, job complexity, tight deadlines, increased individual workload, increasing individual demands and goals, Employer pressure, competition, fear of outsourcing, fear of losing one’s job: Today, everything contributes to spending more and more hours every day, staying a little longer in the office, even if it means sacrificing one’s time, family life or time for oneself. This is not acceptable, ALEBA struggles every day against this, and the International Labour Day must be an opportunity to remember it.

But this year, May 1st also has, unfortunately, another taste, very bitter. A virus out of nowhere has in just two months completely slowed down the World’s economy, and Luxembourg’s. And May 1 is celebrated this year… at home, masked. Everything is done at home, since mid-March. This homework, which Employers wanted so little yesterday, saves the entire Financial sector today, by allowing the continuation, so to speak, of activities from… the office, bedroom or kitchen of their Employees ! In the vast majority of cases, Companies have indeed been able (with the support of regulators), in a few days, to remove all barriers, technical or regulatory, find budgets and equipment, and organize work and meetings remotely.

Obviously tomorrow’s work World will be different from yesterday. Distance work, and Employers will have to concede it, has shown its value and will have to, where possible, be further promoted in order, as ALEBA has been asking for years and still in its 2019 electoral program-2024, to promote a better work-life balance. And of course, very concretely, this new employability will have to be translated into the collective agreements of Banks and Insurance companies, whose negotiations for renewals will begin at the end of 2020.

Against COVID-19, the most beautiful capital undeniably saves Companies in Luxembourg’s Financial sector, human capital. Congratulations to all Employees in the sector for their investment, their courage and this great lesson of responsibility given to Employers.

Happy International Labour Day to all!

Take great care of yourself and your loved ones!


Laurent Mertz

General Secretary