Work has been a source of celebration since the end of the 18th century. But International Labour Day, as currently celebrated on 1 May, stems back to the struggles of workers’ movements at the end of the 19th century to obtain an eight-hour working day.

Sadly, if those who fought for this right more than 200 years ago were to visit Luxembourg’s financial sector today, they would no doubt be appalled.

For many employees, the eight-hour working day is often little more than a distant memory – if they’ve ever worked one, that is. Staffing cuts, increasing complexity of work, shorter deadlines, greater individual workloads, more exacting demands, tougher individual targets, pressure from employers, competition, fear of outsourcing and concerns about job security: all these factors now contribute to a longer working day and keep staff even later at the office, even at the cost of free time and family life.

Naturally, when your company requests it and the workload demands you should agree to help out. But, only occasionally. Working overtime – when employers agree to recognize it as such, which is not always the case – must truly remain the exception.

ALEBA strives daily to ensure compliance with collective bargaining agreements and labour legislation, particularly on the issue of working hours. This year, on 1 May, ALEBA encourages you to take a few moments to reflect on how much time you devote to your work.

Happy International Labour Day to one and all!

Laurent Mertz
Secretary General