Today is May 1, 2022.
And across Europe, it’s a special day which is actually the Labor Day of Europe. In 1889, the Marxist International Socialist Congress established it as a day for the working-class. Back then, it’s was meant to be a day of demonstration to demand the 8 hour workday. And later on, the 2nd International Socialist movement demanded that “all Social Democratic Party organizations and trade unions of all countries to demonstrate energetically on the First of May for the legal establishment of the eight-hour day, for the class demands of the proletariat, and for universal peace”. And it remained so in many countries, especially in Europe and other countries like in China.
In China, it is a major public holiday, and employees are given three working days off. And in South America and Africa, it is also a highly respected public holiday. Overall, around 80 countries follow it.
In the US and Canada, that day falls on the first Sunday of September, to celebrate trade unions and working associations.
That’s where the day comes from and its historical background. It managed to cut across two world wars and continues to act, in many European countries, as a major gauge of social discontent.
This year in France, observers are paying close attention to the social climate, especially after the presidential elections. Many are starting to call the bubbling social discontent a fourth round, the first and second rounds having been the presidential election, the third round applying to the national assembly elections in June, and the fourth potentially referring to the social pressure coming from trade unions and social organizations.
So all eyes will be on that fourth round. Many in the insurance and reinsurance industry, covering commercial and other business risks, have already been pointing at the increase of social unrest in the past years compared to the previous decade, not just in France but across Europe and the MENA region.
According to Chaucer, a leading expert firm providing insurance coverage to protect businesses against losses due to social protests and civil unrest, the number of protests in Europe has increased by +71% from the 2000-2009 period to the 2010-2019 period. For the 2000-2009 period, we saw an annual average number of protests of 92. That same annual average surged to 157 during the 2010-2019 period.
In MENA, for the same reference periods, that annual average went from 22 to 72 per annum. That’s a +229% increase.
In the sub-Saharan region, these same indicators applying to the same reference periods went from 59 to 88, showing a +48% increase.
So needless to say that the May 1 demonstrations will be watched closely.
The current inflationary tensions will fuel the fire of social discontent even more.
That’s what I wanted to share with you.
Let me know if you have questions and I look forward to hearing your thoughts. Feel free to comment.