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1st May 2017: “Work is so much more than a job”

On the First of May – traditionally the festival of Spring, new life, and hope – Unconditional Basic Income Europe (UBIE) joins the world celebrating International Workers Day, established originally to mark working people’s fight to win back control over their own time.

Brussels, 1st May 2017. With pressure mounting on traditional paid work through neoliberal policies and automation, we see Unconditional Basic Income as the idea that will deliver new hope for people suffering from stressful working conditions, insufficient wages or meaningless jobs.

Today, many are working far too hard just for survival, often needing two or three jobs to get by, often loaded down by debt. Others are cut out of the labour market altogether and exist on debt, charity and/or welfare. Many waste their talents in meaningless ‘bullshit jobs’. This is damaging to everyone’s family and community life, physical and mental health.

“With basic income, every worker will have more options to say ‘No’ to work seen as senseless while being better able to do work seen as needed. We will have more ‘good work’ that is authentic,” says Ulrich Schachtschneider, sociologist from Oldenburg, Germany and board member of Unconditional Basic Income Europe.

Back in 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted that his grandchildren would be working 15 hour weeks for their livelihoods. Today, when technology could make this a reality, most developed economies are heading towards longer working times and lower wages. Often workers’ organisations end up supporting these developments out of fear of being left without any income at all.

Despite the European Union’s 2020 goals, poverty is now on the rise again, and wealth inequality is now at its worst since the industrial revolution began. There are more jobs, but income growth has only been seen by the top 5% of wage-earners.

Basic income is therefore a necessary solution to start closing the inequality gap, to unlink survival from paid work. This would give working people control over their time, whether spent in paid jobs, in other socially useful work or in leisure activities.

On May Day, Unconditional Basic Income Europe calls on everyone to stand with all who struggle for shorter hours, better working conditions, higher pay and more meaningful work. Equally we stand with all who care unpaid for family and friends, our communities and our environment, all who work for a better society.


1st May 2017: “Work is so much more than a job”
Unconditional Basic Income Europe
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May first was never a fight for labour but always for income!


If unions were our allies, they allready would support an Uncondidional Bais Income. They do not! In Germany we have smaler sections of the Union for the public sector fighting for it – but they don’t get a chance to overcome the resistance within their own folks. So that’s about it.

I would love to wellcome all the unions. But if I cannot, because they reject even considering this progressive idea of a BIG – well … – I will not stop just to make it comfortable for them ….

In history redesigning a holiday have happened always and replaced a feast by something else – see Easter (Spring-Celebration), Christmas (Winter-Solstice) and so on.

Also I don’t consider the BIG only “combating poverty, social exclusion and economic inequality” – I consider BIG a HUMAN RIGHT. I demand human dignity and the realisation of real freedom and real democracy. To get rid of poverty is just a wellcome sideeffect.

We need to understand:
there was never a fight for labour – or “work” – it always was a fight for income!

[as we wrongly use that word as it is the “biggest stupidity of the 21st century” (Guy Standing)].

And no – it is not the saying part, it is the listening part. I can clearly state that I always communicate the need of rethinking “work” (now used as in averything that can be done by any human being) – and also that unions will not be obsolete once we have a BIG, because we still will need organized forces to propose good working conditions.

But – as always with human beings – those who are active in unions have their own strategy in mind – like minimum wages. Minimum wages are great as long as we don’t have a BIG implemented – after that it not only will be useless, but also hindering.

Fact is – and we need to face this reality – we are interfering with union’s strategies (at least as long as both groups don’t find a way to build up solidarity – which is not a one-way road).

Rushing-ahead-obedience is not a strategy that will help anyone – if unions are the natural allies – well, then, let them come; I am waiting for a long time and urgendtly expecting those who “happily support” us
– but I will not crawl before some “potential” ally.

This article was first published on

About Felix Coeln

Felix Coeln is for around 30 years civically engaged, for example, in the emancipation work, namesake of Schulz (Sch-wulen u nd L-Esben Z Entrum, Cologne 1985 – 2003). Since 2005 Basic Income activist. Since 2010 board member of the Cologne Initiative basic income e. V., in Europe with presentations, among others for BGE go.