Labor Day and hours worked


In 82 countries of the world, the International Workers' Day, May 1st, is an official national holiday day. In some countries, even in Europe (for example the Netherlands and Denmark) it is not a national holiday, but there are still different initiatives.

In the US, May 1st is a holiday dedicated to spring and "loyalty to the United States" (Loyalty Day), a meaning strongly desired in 1958 by President Eisenhower who, in the midst of the Cold War, imposed this formula to prevent the Feast of Labor became truly "universal" by uniting the workers (obviously "socialists and communists") of every continent.

The curious thing is that the Labor Day has American roots: it was in fact established (1889-90) also in memory of the bloody clashes of 1886 in Chicago (USA) between the police and the protesters, who demanded more rights and, above all, the reduction of the working day to 8 hours (compared to even 16 working days): some protesters arrested, judged as "anarchists", were then sentenced to death. The episode (not the first, in the United States) went down in history as the Haymarket uprising (see on - from the name of the square where the agricultural machinery market was held, the scene of clashes.

Protests that have changed recent history Revolutions and not: protests that have changed (and not changed) History. |

In the US and in a few other countries, a Labor Day (a labor day) is celebrated on the first Monday in September: this occasion recalls the claims of Canadian workers (in the years around 1870) for the protection of union activities and the reduction of 9 hour workday .

How many hours are you working today? From the nineteenth century to today a lot has changed: culture, laws, work, rights, awareness … Every "progress" and every step forward on the front of workers' rights has cost dearly, and the general lesson of history is that "nothing is ever acquired forever". In an economy that quickly changes rules and tools, every right of the weakest, the workers, those precarious, those who depend on a salary at the end of the month and those who do not have a job, must be "manned" and also defended, if necessary.

Among the flags of the first claims, many may think that "the battle of working hours" is definitively won, only to reflect on the infinite variations of atypical work or on the widespread practice of unpaid overtime.

The 2019 edition of the report on work scenarios by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the OECD Employment Outlook, proposes a series of pictures of the world of work (some surprising for those who think in the 21st century), based on the latest available data provided by individual countries.

Among the various pictures - all of which can also be consulted online starting from the OECD Data page - to honor the historic flag of 1 May, we have chosen a comparison of the annual hours worked, of which we propose below a graphic summary. In comparison, consider the "Italy" data in the average compound based on an 8-hour workday on five days a week, with 20-21 working days per month and 11 months worked.

1 May 2019, Labor Day, Labor Day, International Workers' Day Yearly hours worked in 2017: a summary of the OECD Employment Outlook 2019 on 15 of the 37 OECD member countries. For France, the asterisk indicates that the most recent data are from 2016. | OECD, via