What is freedom? If you don’t consult books and definitions, you could say the right to life and housing would be among the priorities that make freedom. Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says that everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person.  

Article 23 states that everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.  

When we think about it from an everyday point of view – being healthy, having enough food, and a place to stay would be the three substantial life-sustaining options.  

And each of them is hardly attainable if you’re unemployed; or you have a job, but your paycheck is always late or doesn’t even arrive.  

Unemployment and employment in harsh conditions are the two burning issues of the global economy.  

In this article, we’ll try to explain the historical context of May Day (May 1), analyze the work conditions in the IT industry, and present how BrightMarbles Group fights for workers’ rights.  

How It All Started 

After the (first) Industrial Revolution and invention of the steam machine, the world changed forever. The synergy of machines and people improved production efficiency, ensuring higher yields for business owners. On the other hand, this revolution initiated massive migrations from villages to towns and cities. In the period 1760-1840, Great Britain experienced such huge movements of people.  

The infrastructure and hygiene conditions in towns and cities couldn’t accept so many newcomers, so the initial industrial workers ended up working for low wages in bad living conditions. (For more details, proceed to Charles Dickens’ novels.) 

The situation was similar in the US, the only difference being the potential energy of the US workers – the population of the US in 1890 was 63 million, while there were some 37 million Britons back then.  

Organized in unions and influenced by the ideas of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, workers had been demanding improved worker rights, spanning from an eight-hour workday to decent wages and health insurance.  

The pinnacle of then-frequent clashes between the police, unions and factory owners happened in Haymarket Square, Chicago, on May 4, 1886. Several police officers and civilians were killed, which sparked harsher tensions between employers and workers.  

As the combat for workers’ rights was getting stronger, the international federation of socialist groups and trade unions adopted the decision that May 1 becomes the International Workers’ Day. European countries gradually accepted this day for the purpose above – the Soviet Union included – and now most countries in the world celebrate workers’ rights on May 1. The political and social (sometimes even physical) combat continued throughout the 20th century, winning over new liberties for workers; in some parts of the world. In some other parts, workers are still fighting for their rights, with mixed success.  

IT Industry and Workers’ Rights Today 

From the outside, people who aren’t in the IT sector might at first think that programmers, marketers, designers, and the other members of the software development entourage eat avocado and drink smoothies three times a day.  

The harsh reality is in fact: yup, this image isn’t that far away from what happens behind the closed door. If not always avocado and smoothie, many white-collar tech employees do enjoy the benefits of a modern balanced work ecosystem. However, that’s not the case in every corner of the world.  

Same Positions, Different Rights 

Even though engineers, designers, and managers do enjoy certain benefits and comfortable salaries in the West, not all their colleagues in the East have such experiences. A case study published in the ‘Journal of Industrial Relations’ (2022), related to Foxconn’s operations in China, indicates that about 60% of workers experience overtime hours outside legal limits, which causes health issues and affects their wellbeing (we’ll get back to Foxconn and Apple later in the text).  

The situation is similar in India, the Philippines, and most of Southeast Asia: these countries still have a young population, so some of their employers from developed countries use this harsh competition for every workplace to keep the wages low and work conditions cheap.  

What’s more, some national governments work in collaboration with large companies and adopt labor laws that encourage those enterprises to pursue their Darwinist work policies – strict work conditions, few benefits, long working hours. 

Also, recent research by the International Labor Organization for 2024 has shown that outsourced IT workers in Southeast Asia – and some other parts of the world, including some areas in Europe – sometimes earn half or even one-third of what their colleagues in developed countries make for a living.  

Underprivileged Blue Collars 

Blue-collar workers, on the other hand, typically have fewer benefits on their plate (literally and metaphorically). The thing is that many international IT companies have migrated their production plants to other countries.  

Be it smartphone production, assembling laptops or making microchips, some of those workers perform their daily tasks in sweatshops for low wages. This description sounds as if we’ve already used it somewhere above; yes, such work conditions are similar to the ones of the 19th century we described above, which launched the fight for an eight-hour workday and paid time off.  

After almost two centuries of physical clashes, riots, negotiations, and labor legislation, in some parts of the world, workers’ rights in some countries haven’t changed much, except for Internet connection. But technological progress has given some working people better chances than before, especially in the last two decades. Let’s now go a bit deeper into the growth of the Internet and tech relocation. 

Developing Countries as the Growth Engine 

If you’re generally interested in tech stuff, you know that the US market saw the immense growth of software solutions and the Web in the 1990s. This Web-first world was introduced to people predominantly through PCs and Windows 95.  

Fast forward to the late 2000s: the development of the smartphone market and better Internet connectivity in East and Southeast Asia have accelerated the business growth of this part of the world. Such trends have opened room for super apps, such as WeChat, which became one-stop platforms for the users of online services.  

As business matters are often interconnected with political affairs, many tech companies started relocating their production plants to Asia in the late 1990s and early 2000s.  

Foxconn Zhengzhou was opened in 2001, as Apple’s first factory in China. It has grown into one of the largest production plants in the world, in any industry, turning into the backbone of its iPhone assembly. As professor Eli Friedman of Cornell University puts it, Apple wouldn’t have developed into such an important and affluent company if they hadn’t shifted their manufacturing to China.  

Lower Hourly Wages, Higher Yield 

And the reason why Apple and all other tech companies chose that way was lower labor costs, of course. To be more precise, a blue-collar Chinese worker in 2001 did the same job as their US counterpart at the fraction of a price. This cost difference drove tech giants away from the US and EU, toward developing countries.  

Still, the story of Apple’s success in the last two decades isn’t that simple because they didn’t merely outsource the assembly part. It was a true corporate endeavor in which hundreds if not thousands of managers, senior engineers, designers, and logistics experts moved to Zhengzhou to build an integrated production mastodon.  

In the long run, the Chinese industry has had certain benefits from this relocation – knowledge transfer and gradual increase of workers’ salaries, but most of these experts are below their colleagues in developed countries, as explained above. 

Another thing with China was that it has a competitive school system that nurtures STEM subjects. As foreign companies brought their tech solutions into this country two decades ago, the local universities and schools embraced these programs and collaborated with US and European enterprises. The wages of blue-collar workers and the salaries of white-collar employees have been growing constantly, as well as the number of Chinese women studying STEM disciplines and working in the IT industry.  

BM Insight: As fervent advocates of gender equality in everything we do, not just in terms of salaries, we have organized several workshops and lectures to raise awareness of women’s problems in the tech industry. We also promote and support young women and girls eager to start their careers in science, technology, engineering, and math. Our CXO Nevena Nemeš has written an inspiring personal story about her career path A Journey to Gender Equality in STEM – The Rocky Road to Sustainable Future.  

With the help of the Chinese government in terms of lower taxes and direct subsidies, western companies have harvested higher yields than they would if they stayed in their countries in origin. In the meantime, Chinese companies that have developed in this context are relocating their supply chain and production to other less developed countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, etc.  

As this happens, we witness a butterfly effect of unfair work conditions that moves from country to country. When workers in certain areas become “too expensive”, production plants and outsourcing simply get transferred to another, cheaper country.  

The Crisis in the EU and US Tech Companies 

The decade-long growth of the IT market has been disrupted in the last two years, with the outbreak of the global crisis in the IT industry. After the intensive surge of the softdev sector in the second part of the 2010s and during the COVID-19 pandemic, deceleration in the growth of this field was expected, indeed. But things didn’t just slow down; they went downhill. In the second quarter of 2022, there were signs that the market was tired, and investors had been reluctant to keep pouring assets into IT companies.  

The 2023 Crisis Hitting Hard 

The breaking point occurred in March 2023, when the Silicon Valley Bank (SBV) collapsed (read more about the string of events thereof in a detailed guide on the Investopedia website). Banks going bankrupt is nothing new, but this particular bank was something else: many large tech companies kept their money there, as well as numerous venture capitalists (VCs – the guys who invest their money in startups and other businesses and wait for the desired return on investment). After that, we saw a rapid decline in the number of investments, due to the panic that took the industry by storm. From the USA, the crisis spilled over to other parts of the world, especially Europe, shrinking the investment pipeline.  

The result was that even large companies, such as Meta and Google had massive layoffs, let alone tech startups and mid-sized businesses on the outskirts of the EU.  

But how is our company fighting this crisis? 

BrightMarbles Amidst Mibsters’ Rights and Ongoing Crisis 

Since its foundation in 2016, our company has been positioning itself as an employer with a human face. Our fo(u)refathers (yes, we actually have 4 founders – Boris, Darko, Bojan, and Oliver) wanted to introduce something completely different – a tech company that builds software and cares about people with equal zest.  

Eight years later, we can say with pride that this part of the mission has been implemented successfully. We’ve been growing ever since 2016, and this isn’t only because of attractive projects. Other companies also have interesting projects. We honestly believe that our transparent company culture and values make a difference in this market.  

We have a piece of evidence to support this claim: since the onset of the financial crisis in the tech market discussed above, we’ve retained almost our entire workforce. Even though we had to bring some austerity measures, we didn’t have to let anyone go thanks to this decision. While numerous companies – both globally and regionally – suffered massive layoffs, BrightMarbles Group and all its branches managed to stay afloat without such hard decisions.  

We need to underline that we’ve been able to navigate this unpleasant period with the help of our employees, our Mibsters. Our trademark is an open-door policy and friendly communication with both clients and employees. For example, when we only started out, our workforce was predominantly in their late twenties and early thirties. When they were filling out the benefits questionnaire in those first years, they’d put things like team building, gym card, and company party among priorities. But when the HR team asked them to write down their top benefits last year, the focus was on health insurance for their kids.  

This is something we’re also proud of: many Mibsters have grown into parents and responsible adults during their stint at our company.  

BM Insight: Speaking of the projects, we have certain criteria when we’re choosing our collaborations. Of course, the financial aspect isn’t neglectable, but we do our best to go the extra mile in selecting softdev projects thatg care about people. That’s why some of our recent projects revolve around the introduction of highly sophisticated software solutions into medicine. These health-tech projects of ours, such as the Carna Health platform, Cellink bio printing, and the Concorde Health wellness app, are meant to prevent diseases and improve people’s lives. In other words, it’s our direct contribution to supporting workers’ rights and wellbeing.  

IT Labor and Grey Areas 

Even though the software development industry has a more positive reputation than many other fields, there’s still a lot of room for improvement. We’ve already mentioned the inequality that women face even in the tech field. Another serious issue is ageism. 

If you stop for a while and try to remember some of the latest employer branding campaigns in tech, you’ll have a hard time evocating the last time you saw grey hair. An intriguing analysis published by Wired shows that age-based discrimination is an open secret in the tech industry. Many experienced, knowledgeable engineers have been laid off during this crisis because their employers calculated that they wouldn’t pay off in the long run. And it’s not that easy for a 58-year-old software engineer to land another job, at least not within the same pay range.  

BrightMarbles Group gathers literally knowledge-hungry youngsters in their early twenties and experience-rich business veterans in their late fifties. Our stance is that if you’re an educated, hard-working, and open-minded professional, we want you. As our CEO Boris Berat (a member of the Forbes Technology Council) specified it in his interview for Forbes:  

“Everybody is welcome to join our company. We believe in science and celebrate its achievements, and we’ll always root for equal opportunities, in business and life alike.” 

BM Insight: In addition to direct care for our workers and effort to accept pleasant and professionally interesting projects, we at BrightMarbles constantly craft community initiatives to contribute to accessibility and inclusiveness of the tech industry. From workshops and lectures to knowledge-sharing events, our mission is to break the barriers and eliminate prejudice while helping people truly understand what opportunities our industry offers.  


The IT industry has its defects, for sure, but it has positioned itself higher than most other fields regarding employees’ rights and employer policies. Our company has been implementing this modern approach to employees, appreciating their expertise and providing a fair life-work balance. Is there room for additional improvements? Sure, we do our best to keep our people satisfied as we speak through open communication, tangible benefits, and life-changing projects. 

However, this is an ongoing journey. We challenge and invite the entire IT industry—and beyond—to adopt practices that prioritize workers’ rights and promote a culture of respect and inclusiveness. Let’s direct our joint influence toward carrying out real change in every step of this journey, inspiring every company to reassess how and whether at all they contribute to the wellbeing of their workforce. 

We can and should commit every May Day – and every other day – to a never-ending combat for labor rights. Industry leaders, employees, and stakeholders heed the call and join us in this crucial mission: to transform the workplace into a space that supports, nurtures, and values every worker’s contribution.  

Together, we can build a world of meaningful work and mutual respect that transcends our time. 

About Author 

Pavle Bobic is a resident content marketing strategist and business writer at BrightMarbles Group Holding. A long-term holder of master’s degree in the English language and literature and once-teacher, he has been producing content in biztech, IT, fintech and eCommerce since 2013. His expertise drills deep into the correlations between information technology, business development, and financial technology, with a pinch of SEO on the top.