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Reclaiming international worker's day

May 1, 2023

What do you think when you hear of the 1st of May? Do you think of just a day off and kissing under a cherry tree?

As workers in the ICT sector, we consider it to be much more than that. But in order to understand why we think this day is not another public holiday like any other, we need to first understand where this day came from.

International worker’s day was established in 1889 to commemorate the Haymarket affair in Chicago on 4 of May 1886. Workers organized demonstrations in Chicago and other cities in support of an 8-hour workday. The actions were supposed to last multiple days, but on 3rd of May a strike in one of the factories turned violent. The next day a peaceful meeting at Haymarket Square became even more so. Clashes between workers and armed forces of state left at least 11 dead and many injured. (Source:

1st of May should remind us that things like the 8-hour work day that we now take for granted, are here thanks to worker struggles. Moreover, the post-pandemic working conditions pose a threat to the already achieved victories of the worker’s movement. Some of the new ways of working, for example working from home, often blur the boundary between our work and personal time. Having a laptop and being always available makes it easier to break the 8-hour threshold without even noticing it. Majority of workers are expected by their employer to use their own resources (like home, devices, electricity, internet connection) for work without compensation. Workers rights are also eroded by prevalent use of the svarc system and use of NDA agreements, for example forbidding workers to discuss their salaries with their colleagues. There are also alarming tendencies in Europe regarding retirement age and its extension. Basically, our fight is not over.

The most efficient way to safeguard our workers’ rights is to be part of a trade union. Whether you want to or not, you are part of this struggle. In the sector of IT and communication, we sometimes feel protected from the negative effects of the system, but we are still workers in a rapidly changing sector with unconventional employment relationships. And let us not forget the large number of foreign colleagues that are extremely vulnerable. We want to learn to read between the lines of company policies to recognize whether they really improve our working conditions or not. Instead, we want to read the lines of our contracts. It is our collective responsibility to know our rights and organize to protect ourselves from exploitation.

Trade unions were always instrumental in initiating changes in working conditions. Work is changing so quickly, we want to not only keep up but get ahead. That is why we created the Sectoral union of workers in ICT to support everyone in the sector no matter their employment relationship. We would like the Czech Republic to establish examples of good working conditions like 4-day working week, menstrual leave, unlimited sick days, and transparency of pay. We also believe that workers’ rights include solidarity with other sectors and only together we can change the system of work. Lastly, we send our support to workers all over Europe and the world, who are fighting to improve their working conditions and trying to build a world where exploitation, oppression and climate crisis will be a thing of the past.

If this resonates with you, come meet us. We are currently preparing klimathon and we are launching a petition for transparency of pay. Or join our sectoral union.

The authors are members of union