THUNDER BAY – The Labour Day weekend is upon us and most people are out enjoying their last long weekend before school starts. Most people will be enjoying the lake at camp, enjoying festivities at places like the Hymers Fall Fair, or simply spending quality time with family.
While you are out enjoying time with friends and family let’s not forget the reason we have this long weekend at the beginning of September.
The Labour Day holiday was established to recognize the contribution that ordinary working people have made to the Canadian way of life. These contributions should not be underestimated. In the last hundred years ordinary people, ordinary workers did extraordinary things to help create a more fair, just and equitable society. Reading Jean Morrison’s Labour Pains a short book on the history of Labour in Thunder Bay you begin to understand and appreciate the risks that took place to gain many of the rights we regard as common place today.
The labour movement has built a very large part of society, both in terms of the way people are paid, but also in terms of people’s rights. This includes the right to fair wages, safe working conditions and compensation for injury, and equitable labour relations.
The labour movement has fought hard for its union members but also advocated for many other challenging issues for all members of society: human rights, poverty, pay equity and public health care to name just a few.
With workplace injuries on the increase and the vulnerability of pensions – evident in many local mill closures – it is clear that there is a need and important role of the labour movement in the future. Labour’s work on behalf of all working people is paramount.
I am thankful to all those working men and women of our past that have fought hard for safer working conditions and fairer wages. I am also thankful for those in the labour movement that fought not only for their members but also those vulnerable members of society.
All Canadians should solute and wish well to those in the Labour movement facing the challenges of the future, I certainly do. They richly deserve the recognition of Labour Day. We all benefit from their efforts.
Councillor, Current River, City of Thunder Bay