The pandemic, the cost of living crisis, skyrocketing inflation, the gender pay gap, or the proliferation of unstable gig work. There are a plethora of reasons to take to the streets on 1 May for Labour day.
Across mainland Europe and in most of the world, 1 May is International Workers' Day: a national holiday in celebration of workers and their past struggles. If it weren't for the collective efforts of many workers and trade unions, we would not have a weekend, a minimum wage or even sick pay.
Yet with social inequalities far from being eradicated and technological developments finding new ways of circumventing many of these hard-fought workers' rights in the name of shareholder profit, the battle for worker freedoms is as important today as ever.
Workers' Day in Brussels
Normally, unions, NGOs, musicians and artists unite in Belgium's capital for a large celebration which brings together people. Now, after two years of absence, the popular 1 May festival returns.
Organised by the General Labour Federation of Belgium (FGTB) and the Socialist Mutuality of Brabant (FMSB), the 29th edition will see an unmissable celebration at Mont Des Arts from 13:00-20:00 on Sunday.
"After two years of confinement, you can expect some major festivities. This will echo across Belgium too and here in Brussels with concerts, debates and stalls where people can experience the burgeoning energy of the workers’ movement." stated Oliver Roethig, Europe Regional Secretary for UNI Europa, a trade union federation representing 7 million service workers.
In a supportive and festive spirit, this year’s edition will see public spending and the cost of living crisis as the key issues for debate. The event will feature cultural activities, music, and speeches as well as a special photo exhibition devoted to African trade union struggles.
Furthermore, there will be traditional family activities (FMSB children's village) and areas dedicated to meetings, tastings and above all sharing.
As for the concerts, the Brussels stage will be present and colourful with: the energetic Arty Leiso, the sunny Chicos y Mendez and the incredible Manou Gallo, "The Afro Groove Queen"!
"Many readers will have participated in clapping for essential workers. It’s time to get down to the street and party with them!” Roethig said.
For the full programme of the Mont des Arts festivities, click here.
For more information about 1 May activities around Belgium, click here.