Celebrating May Day: Images Of Workers Around The World

May Day, Bolivia
Today is May Day, when the world celebrates the struggles and sacrifices of the common worker. Like this cheese seller in Tupiza, Bolivia, photographed by Gadling’s resident cheese expert Laurel Miller. After some hard hours making her product, this woman comes to the market hoping to sell it all before the day is through. She uses a plastic bag on a stick to keep the flies away.

A range of unions and workers’ parties declared May Day a workers’ holiday in 1898. The date commemorated a three-day general strike in the U.S. that started on May 1, 1886, during which workers demanded an eight-hour day. Police fired into a protest by employees at the McCormick-International Harvester Company and killed three. On May 4, workers staged a protest against the killings at Haymarket Square, Chicago. A bomb went off and the police charged into the demonstrators. At least a dozen people died that day, including seven officers. Eight activists were sentenced to hang for the bombing, although there was widespread criticism about the lack of evidence.

American workers eventually got an eight-hour day, but it took several more major demonstrations and lots more people getting hurt. Many countries still don’t offer the benefits we now take for granted. Traveling around the world we come across people in lots of different lines of work. Some jobs are good, some are bad, and some are downright grueling. I’ll never forget a man I saw on a construction site in Damascus, Syria, back in 1994.

A crew was digging a deep trench into the sidewalk near our hotel, and every day my travel companions and I would pass by. Most of the men were down in the trench digging, but one guy had the job of sitting on an upturned bucket at street level manning a pump to take away water from the trench. He pulled on a rope attached to a pulley overhead, which yanked a crude pump at the bottom of the excavation. He’d set up a rhythm and sat there pulling all day. We saw him, every morning, noon, and evening, for days on end. We dubbed him, “The Man With the Most Boring Job in the World.”

I regret I never talked to him. While I’ve had my share of soul-destroying jobs, I bet he could have taught me a thing or two about what it means to work for a living. So Happy May Day, Man With the Most Boring Job in the World, and Happy May Day to all the other workers photographed in this gallery of shots by Gadling bloggers and members of the Gadling Flickr pool!

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Expat Workforce matches expats and employers

Are you an expat? Do you need a job or could you benefit from having a second gig? We found a matchmaking website that might be able to help. A new job board called Expat Workforce is connecting businesses who outsource work to English speakers living abroad. And it’s absolutely free for expats.

As an expat, all you have to do is register and post a profile – which includes your location, availability, skills and education/work background – and then you are able to browse jobs. The whole process takes less than 10 minutes, so it can’t hurt to throw up your information if you’re on the hunt for a job. You can also follow the job posting updates on Twitter.

Expat Workforce is the brainchild of former expats. The website is still a brand new concept, so right now they are recruiting expats to submit profiles and promise they will “begin promoting aggressively” to businesses in the coming months. There are no success stories yet, but since it’s the only site of its kind we wanted to spread the word to all our expat friends.

[Screenshot courtesy Expat Workforce.]

Galley Gossip: Can a mother of two young kids become a flight attendant?

My name is Stephanie and I am thinking of becoming a flight attendant. My only concern is my two boys ages 5 and almost 2. How can I have time to be a mom and work? I love to travel and I hear benefits are good. Can I work flights after bedtime? But when will I come back?

The most difficult thing for a flight attendant, Stephanie, is being flexible in terms of scheduling. Making long term plans is next to impossible when you never know what you’ll be working month to month – or even day to day if you’re on reserve! Even if you are able to hold a schedule, that schedule can always change at the last minute and the only thing you can do about it is continue on with the trip or quit! Keep in mind if you do quit mid-sequence, you’ll have to figure out how to get home as you’ll no longer have travel benefits.

Two years ago I had a trip that was scheduled to land on Christmas Eve. With thirteen years as a flight attendant, I was finally able to hold Christmas off! I couldn’t believe my luck. But on Christmas Eve the final leg of our trip canceled. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, the entire crew got reassigned, which meant none of us would make it back in time to celebrate the holiday! I wound up in Toronto at an airport hotel when I should have been at home with my family eating turkey and dressing like everyone else.

Unless you have an amazing support system twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week for the kids, this may not be the job for you – at least not right now! It’s why so many flight attendants start working at an early age or later on in life after the kids are grown. Trust me it ain’t easy juggling the job with family, especially when you’re brand spankin new with little to no seniority.

SENIORITY – Refers to a flight attendants years of experience. Years of experience with an airline is based on date of hire. Seniority is everything at an airline. It determines what trips a flight attendant can “hold” and whether or not a flight attendant will serve reserve. Basically it determines whether you’ll be working days, nights, weekends, and holidays, as well as where you’re going and how long you’ll be gone. So there’s no telling when – or if – you’ll make it back home.

Here are a few more things to consider…

THE PAY: No one becomes a flight attendant for the money. While the benefits are good, the pay is not. Most flight attendants that work for major U.S. carriers make less than $20,000 annually their first year. Smaller airlines pay even less than that! I know a flight attendant that works for a regional carrier and she makes $14,000 a year! AND she works holidays without incentive pay.

WEEKS OF TRAINING:
The majority of airlines provide their own training. (This is why it doesn’t make sense to go to one of those “flight attendant schools.”) My airline required seven and a half weeks of unpaid training at a facility near the airlines corporate headquarters. Years ago I worked for a low cost carrier called Sun Jet International Airlines that only required two weeks of unpaid training. It was conducted at a hotel in Houston. Can you handle being away from your children for weeks at a time in order to earn your wings.

CREW BASES: Most airlines have crew bases in a handful of cities. That doesn’t mean you’ll be able to work out of the city of your choice. In order to be based in a certain city, there must first be an opening at the base. Crew bases are awarded by seniority. At my airline New York is the most junior base in the system, so it was no surprise that the majority of my classmates in training wound up there – myself included. New York is where I’m still based, even though I live in California. That makes me a commuter.

RESERVE: Flight attendants on reserve have no life. At my airline we bid for a schedule of days off only. We get twelve of them. The rest of themonth we’re on call. This means we must be ready to go to the airport at anytime – day or night. We’re given at least two hours from the time crew schedule calls us with a trip to the time we have to sign in at the airport. One night I ordered Chinese delivery and was out the door and on my way to the airport to work a flight to London before the food even arrived!

NOTE: How the reserve system works varies at different airlines, but most flight attendants serve straight reserve. This means they’re on reserve until they have enough seniority to hold off. If the airline is in a hiring frenzy, you may not have to be on reserve for very long as newer flight attendants will bump you off. But if you’re hired at the end of a massive hiring streak, you could get stuck on reserve for a very long time. I’ve been working at my airline now for fifteen years, I’m based at the most junior base in the system, and even I am still on reserve!

Photo courtesy of Santheo and Tawheed Manzoor

Help Wanted: one mermaid

With the economy the way it is, it’s hard to get a job, so if you can’t find a position in your own field perhaps you should try a career change and become a mermaid.

That’s what the SeaQuarium in Rhyl, Wales, is offering. It wants one mermaid (or merman) to swim around with its fish during visitor hours. The applicant needs to wear a half-fish costume, have good hygiene, be a licensed scuba diver, and (here’s the downside) be willing to swim with the sharks.

Oh, and you have to clean the tanks too, so basically you’re a janitor with danger pay.

BBC reports that the company has been “flooded” with applicants, which says something about the state of the economy and the BBC’s sense of humor.

Hopeful merpeople must have their applications in by November 5. If the folks at SeaQuarium read Gadling, they wouldn’t be bothering with trying to hire humans; they’d go to Israel and get one of the real mermaids sighted there.

[Image of A Mermaid by John William Waterhouse, 1901, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons]

Illinois man works 50 jobs in 50 states

Looking to spice up your work routine? Want to travel the country but don’t have the cash to go without a job for an extended period of time? Take a page from Daniel Seddiqui’s playbook. Quit your job and contract yourself out to 50 different employers in 50 states over the course of 50 weeks. You’ll get variety, the chance to travel for a year, and a somewhat steady income. It’s genius.

Bored with his job at an office in Skokie, Illinois, Daniel decided to try something new. Actually, he decided to try something new every week. He resolved to work his way across the US, doing odd jobs in each state. Along the way, he held some jobs he loved (working as a dietitian in Mississippi) and some he loathed (taking abuse from film company execs in LA). He also worked as a border patrol officer in Arizona, helped out a cellar master in Napa Valley, made cheese in Wisconsin, and toiled in an oil refinery in Oklahoma.

Some jobs paid well, like the medical device manufacturer that gave him $2000 for getting the company coverage on CNN, while others, like the gig making furniture with the Amish in Pennsylvania, well…not so much. For that, Daniel earned just $100 for the week.

Daniel says some jobs were more difficult than others, but it seems like one of the hardest aspects of undertaking this project was probably setting it up. Daniel says he estimates that 100 companies rejected his offer per state. But he continued making cold calls and networking and eventually landed all 50 gigs.

So what’s the next job for Daniel? Writing a book about the adventure, of course.