Make May Day Pay Day!

Across Europe, as workers celebrate trade union solidarity on 1 May, many ETUC affiliates will be using the opportunity to highlight their demands for higher pay, and support for the ETUC’s #Our Pay Rise campaign.

The best way to achieve a pay rise is through trade union collective bargaining. Workers covered by collective agreements have higher wages and better benefits. Unions also promote equality in the labour market, resulting in narrower pay gaps for women and young workers. More workers should be covered by collective agreements – it is the best way to promote economic growth and social cohesion.

In Spain, our affiliates CC.OO and UGT have issued a joint May Day manifesto entitled There are no excuses! calling for higher pay, a minimum wage of at least 60% of average salary, and legislation to ensure equal pay between men and women. Since 2008, “policies have impoverished the social majority – the workers – and have increased inequalities, poverty and social exclusion”, note the unions.

In Croatia, the pay rise demand is a key message of UATUC 1 May activities. The campaign, It’s time for OUR recovery, will be promoted at the central Labour Day Demonstration in Slavonski Brod in the Slavonia region – chosen because it is the region most severely affected by the crisis, the impact of emigration, and the lowest wages.

The Croatian economy has recovered. GDP is at the highest level for nine years, but workers have not seen a pay rise in years. In the worst-affected construction industry, real wages have dropped by as much as 25.4%.

“Croatia needs to promote a collective bargaining culture and to raise wages, since more than 200,000 workers get the minimum wage or barely above the minimum and cannot live on that. Our aim is to have a country of rich people, and not a rich country of poor people, and we will do everything to reverse that trend,” said UATUC President Mladen Novosel.

In Lithuania, the Lithuanian Trade Union Confederation is calling for wage increases to boost Lithuanian growth. Lithuania is one of the three EU countries where workers earn the least. In its 1 May flyer (solidarumas_plakatas), the LTUC highlights the unfair redistribution of profits and growing income inequality, poverty and emigration. Its demands include reducing the wage gap for vulnerable social groups, reinforcing the Labour Inspectorate to reduce illegal employment and ensure safe and healthy working conditions, and improving the social security system.

In neighbouring Latvia, the LBAS is publishing an article and adapting the campaign logo for the Delfi website and social media accounts. The logo will also be posted on the union’s building and distributed to affiliates.


Other unions are also using social media to highlight May Day demands. In Belgium, for example, the campaign features in Facebook posts, showing how ETUC resources can be adapted to national and local trade union demands.

The #OurPayRise campaign is gathering strength from local to global level. In the town of Barnsley, Yorkshire, in the north of England, local trade unions are taking part in a Make May Day Pay Day! Rally, backing the slogan: Barnsley needs a pay rise: £10 an hour now!

While the International Trade Union Confederation’s 2017 May Day Statement declares: End Corporate Greed – the World Needs a Pay Rise. “The achievements of generations of working people, celebrated on May Day, are under continuous and systematic attack, as powerful multinational corporations and a handful of immensely wealthy people are writing the rules of the global economy. The poisonous dogma of austerity, designed to transfer yet greater wealth to the 1%, is hitting women hardest and stopping any chance of progress on the great challenges of our time.”

The ETUC wishes a great May Day and successful pay rise campaign to trade unionists and their families everywhere.