May 1st is International Labour Day or Workers’ Day as some call it and it is widely celebrated across the world although frankly, there’s little to celebrate.
While activists may have the best of intentions in trying to fight for better workers’ rights, we are never going to enjoy the same perks and privileges in our various countries.
Many of us fall in the “working poor” category and are happy to just get a salary at the end of the month.
Workers in the US, Britain, Germany, Norway and other developed countries are paid by the hour.
Friday is payday in many of these countries while the rest of us have to wait all of four weeks for a paycheck worth what some people spend on a single coffee outing with a couple of friends or a week’s supply of pet food.
There are also things like paid maternity leave, sick leave or vacations that the average employee anywhere in Africa can’t even afford to dream of. People are even scared to take their annual leave, worried that by the time they return, a new recruit would have replaced them.
A few companies provide training or pay for their employees to upgrade their skills but most don’t and if you want to learn something new, you usually have to pay for that course out of your pocket.
It’s also common for workers without the required skills to just be sacked even when they’ve dedicated years to that company. So when I say there’s not much to celebrate, that is what I mean. Perhaps the best thing most of us get out of Labour Day is the public holiday.
I didn’t have to wake up so early and I was also able to do some laundry and clean my house during the break so that was good. Other than that, I don’t feel like a bunch of people are out there championing my rights and that my finances are about to dramatically change or my working conditions improve.
Speaking of which, here are the top three things I wish would change at my workplace.
The pay, duh! I think just about every worker complains about their salary. Even CEOs who earn six figures want bonuses at the end of the year so yes, I want more money.
The crampy environment. I envy some of my friends who work in plush offices. Wish there was a way I could get our HR to go with me at least once just so he stops dragging his feet on getting us functional ACs and even basic comfortable chairs.
We could also use more space because at the moment, you have to brush against people before getting to your desk. And when a colleague is on phone, you can’t help but eavesdrop.
Lighter workload. I’m not really lazy and I’m not one of those people who don’t pull their weight when it comes to group tasks. To borrow pop Star Rihanna’s words, all I do is work and work some more but at the end of the day, I’m not paid overtime or any bonus whatsoever for the extra hours. I need to look for a more rewarding job.