Labour Day 2017 and 2018
Luxembourg celebrates Labour Day each year on the 1st of May. Originally known as International Workers’ Day, the holiday is designed to celebrate the contributions of labourers in the country.
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History of the Holiday
International Workers’ Day began in the United States as an effort to promote an eight-hour work day. During the late 1800s, workers were required to work between 10 and 16 hours in unsafe conditions. Illness, injury and death were common. On May 1, 1886, a crowd of union sympathisers and workers gathered in Chicago in an effort to bring about changes to the workplace. Police demanded that the crowd disperse and a bomb was thrown into the crowd. It was never determined who threw the bomb, but seven police officers were killed and 60 others wounded. Between four and eight civilians were killed and as many as 40 wounded in what was later called the Haymarket Riot.
In memory of those who died that day, May 1st was deemed International Workers’ Day by labor unions throughout the world. In an effort to move the holiday away from its socialism connections, President Grover Cleveland changed the date to September, while Europe continued to celebrate in May.
Labour Unions in Luxembourg
According to a survey published in 2011, 41 percent of the workforce in Luxembourg belongs to a union, more than any other European country. The rate of union membership increases with an employee’s salary and it is more likely that a Luxembourger will belong to a union than a foreigner living in the country. Older people are also more likely to be a member of a union than a young person. The survey found that only 23 percent of those 25 or younger are active while 53 percent of those who are over 55 belong to a union.
Celebrations and Traditions
Labour Day is a public holiday in Luxembourg which means schools, offices and banks are closed. Many businesses also close, including retail stores and supermarkets. In Luxembourg, if an employee is required to work on Labour Day, they must receive a 100 percent supplement for each hour worked. For this reason, many businesses close on public holidays to avoid paying the additional supplement. Trade unions often gather in order to voice their demands for employees. The Festival of Labour and Cultures is held each year, organised by the Neumunster Abbey Cultural Exchange Center. There are many concerts, exhibitions and presentations. The festival also has programs for children.
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