Are you looking for an excuse to celebrate something? A reason to take some time off?
Or maybe an opportunity to share a meal with your favorite people?
Here’s one you might not have thought about: International Workers’ Day.
Labor Day isn’t until September in North America–but have you heard of International Workers’ Day? Also known as May Day, this holiday celebrates past and present workers across the world. It celebrates the hard work that people put into their jobs and the rights that protect us every time we work.
Much like Labor Day in the US and Canada, May 1st is an official holiday observed by many countries around the world. But a little known fact is that International Workers’ Day commemorates events that happened right here in the US!
International Workers’ Day was established a few years after the 1886 Haymarket Affair in Chicago. This confrontation between labor activists and police forces became an international symbol for the struggle of workers’ rights. Part of the campaign to secure an eight hour workday, this protest also criticized poor working conditions and police brutality in the US.
Today, many of us enjoy privileges related to our work-life. It’s easy to take these privileges for granted when they’ve been written into law. But we should take the time to recognize the many things we workers can be grateful for.
Today, we interact with these principles every time we work. These standards have fundamentally changed the way we live, and we come to expect these standards wherever we work.
But not every country guarantees these rights to workers. Across the world, many workers suffer from poor working conditions and inadequate pay.
This is in part due to the fact that many workers across the world are engaged in economic activities not regulated or protected by a government, called an informal economy. Of the 60% of world’s employed population working informally, a staggering 93% are in emerging and developing countries.
Informal economies don’t afford workers the same protections that formal ones do.
“For hundreds of millions of workers, informality means a lack of social protection, rights at work and decent working conditions”
–the UN’s International Labour Organization
Without governing bodies to guarantee privileges, workers are often victims of exploitation. Wages can be driven down by retailers concerned by their bottom-line. Safety and proper working conditions can be neglected, and child labor is more easily hidden from sight. Overall, informal economies limit workers’ agency to dictate the terms of their own employment.
Nonetheless, two billion people work in an informal economy across the world.
So, what can we do to help ensure fair wages and safe working conditions?
Let’s commemorate the past by fostering change in the present.
This International Workers’ Day, support workers by choosing ethically-sourced goods. By opting for Fair Trade products, you help ensure that the skilled craftspeople who make your product are receiving fair pay under safe working conditions.
Fair Trade is more than just a label. It’s an embodiment of the principles behind International Workers’ Day. It’s a guarantee that the people behind a product are able to thrive from their craft.
Fair Trade artisans are able to provide for their families. They send their children to school and protect their natural environment. Your choice of Fair Trade enables workers to prioritize sustainable methods and a healthy work environment. These are all things that International Workers’ Day celebrates.
Workers and artisans are at the center of what we do at GlobeIn. By connecting artisans with a global marketplace, we’re enabling skilled craftsmen and women to continue to earn a living with their art. We firmly believe that artisanal work is an important part of many cultures, and we want to preserve them. Join us in proving that there is a place for beautiful, handmade items in a world increasingly characterized by mass-production.
How are we different from other retailers? Every time we work with artisans we establish a long-term partnership, and not just a business agreement.
Central to this partnership is how we pay artisans. Traditional retailers commonly pay for an order 30 to 90 days after it is placed. That’s a long time to wait for a pay check! That’s why we pay our artisans a portion upfront, when the order is placed. This enables artisans to cover production costs, without having to rely on loans or wage cuts, which perpetuate the poverty cycle.
We’re also deeply involved in improving the working conditions of our artisans. Our Artisan Fund gives back to the communities we work with every month. From sponsoring environmental workshops to funding eye-care to purchasing menstrual products, our projects make a substantial impact in the lives of people who work. This month, we’ve created a provisional COVID-19 relief fund for any artisans we partner with.
This International Workers’ Day, join us in commemorating workers’ rights by choosing products that champion the people who made them. Uplift artisans by choosing Fair Trade products, and make the world a better place for its workers!