What Labor Day is for Traders: For many, it is a working Day and a Symbol of neglected Workers’ Rights

Labor Day, which has been celebrated every May 1st since 1886, has almost no significance for employees in the stores. This day will be marked by protests so they could point out the poor conditions under which they work, but also the lack of respect for workers in this sector.

Sentences like “What day is it today? We have a working day again!”, “I am a trader – a slave. I am silent, I work and suffer. That favorite movie of yours is no longer on offer”, “Traders are also dying of coronavirus, where are our vaccines”, ”The salary of workers is 500 BAM, the salary of government representatives is 5.000 BAM, enough with that!”, are just some of the slogans under which traders will come out to the streets today and protest to stress that they want and need better rights.

May Day has long been a day of struggle for workers’ rights

Mersiha Besirovic, the president of the Trade Union and Service Activities of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), noted that these slogans briefly contain all the issues that workers in this sector face, adding that May 1st is actually the best date for protests and riots since traders almost always work on that day.

“Otherwise, May 1st should be marked as a day on which unions will articulate demands and fight for workers’ rights. We have witnessed that Labor Day is celebrated in picnic areas, with music, barbecue and fun, which has now changed significantly due to pandemics, but this day should be an occasion for all workers to unite and send their demands to the authorities. May Day in BiH has not been a labor day for decades now, ” told Besirovic.

While speaking about the pandemic, considering that it is the current topic, Besirovic emphasized that this crisis best reflected the situation in which traders work. She added that it is a sector that could not work online, and was exposed to the danger of infection every day and without stopping.

“Just like medical workers, traders are at risk of endangering themselves and their families lives, and on the other hand, they have not been valued more because of it. Besides the standard issues they face, a pandemic that has been present for more than a year was just an addition to everything. The fact that traders are not even a priority for vaccination shows how much our rights are not respected, ” Besirovic stressed.

Even before the pandemic, traders faced many problems

However, even before the pandemic, traders faced “standard” problems which, as the interlocutor added, are still unfortunately present.

“The fact is that traders depend on the minimum wage, although before the pandemic we saw a positive trend of its growth, and now everything has gone two steps backward. There is also a non-food trade whose workers worked for months for minimum wages and barely survive. This is why a higher salary is one of the priorities whenever I talk to workers, ” she added.

Another big problem, as she continues, is the work during the holidays, which is directly related to May 1st.

“As a union, we have had many campaigns in recent years and they have put some pressure, so now it can be noticed that many more stores are closed for May 1st. However, there is no legal solution to this issue yet, so one of our demands is to make amendments to the Law on Internal Trade that we have created, ” noted Besirovic, writes.


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