International Worker Day, also known as Labour Day in some countries, falls on Saturday this year, right at the start of the Early May Bank Holiday weekend.

It celebrates labourers and the working classes, and began in 1886 to commemorate the Haymarket Affair in Chicago, when workers went on strike for the right to an eight-hour work day. This year, International Worker Day is a time to appreciate the struggle workers have faced throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

With 813,000 payroll jobs having disappeared since last March, workers in hospitality, retail and entertainment have been hit particularly hard. According to the Fawcett Society, a devastating 35% of working mothers have lost work or hours due to a lack of childcare support. And, despite their indispensable work throughout the pandemic, NHS staff in England are currently only set to receive a 1% pay rise, a figure which has been criticised by health unions.

Unemployment for young people aged 16-24 also increased by 10% between December 2020 to February 2021, when compared to the pre-pandemic period from January to March in 2020. Part-time jobs for young people have understandably not been prioritised by employers, making it hard for many of my sixth form peers to gain valuable work experience that previous generations had access to. 

I spoke to Carmen Gessell, a sixth form student, on her experience of successfully getting a weekend job at a bakery.

“I think it is difficult to find jobs at the moment because relatively few places are offering specifically Saturday jobs for teenagers, as I am given to understand used to happen more regularly. However, my application process was straightforward and I’m now happy with my working arrangement.”

So, while there are still not as many opportunities available as before, it seems that things are starting to look up. In fact, the number of advertised job vacancies rose by 16% in March, marking a further reassuring step forward.

What better way to celebrate International Worker day this Bank Holiday weekend than to go out and support all the business currently reopening, as we move closer to normality.