Labour Day is a statutory national holiday throughout Canada, every first Monday of September. Unlike most countries of the world that have adopted May 1st Labour Day (International Workers Day), Canada has chosen the September day, which has remained unchanged over the years.
In 1872, there was a printer’s revolt in Toronto when laborers decided on a maximum 54-hour workweek. It was illegal to have any union activity at the time. Anyone who flouted this was jailed so there were massive protest marches all over. Eventually, the Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald had to repeal the anti-union laws and have the arrested protest organizers released.
The printer’s strike became an annual celebration. On 23rd July 1894, Prime Minister John Thompson officially declared the day a national holiday after the parliament ratified it. Thus, Labour Day was born in Canada. It is therefore used to commemorate the labor movement of the countries that mark the day. It is celebrated on different days in different countries.
In the past, Labor unions usually organized parades and picnics. But Labour Day has evolved over the years. It is more often associated with fairs and festivals today. To most, the day is really the Monday of the last long weekend of summer. For many families, it is a week marked by traveling and sightseeing. The youth are not left out – it is for them the last weekend for parties, just before the new school year begins. Activities to look forward to this week include the Canadian Football League event, the Labour Day Classic, Canadian Airshow, Fan Expo Canada, Pedestrian Sunday in Kensington Market, Fiesta Filipino, Cornucopia, China Town Street Festival, etc.
As much as it is alright to mark Labour Day with fanfare, we should not lose sight of the significance of the day – to celebrate workers and their families.
At The Immigrant Life, we choose to focus on the heart of the matter.
You are the oil in the engine of our nation’s economy.
You are on the honor roll today.
Climb the pedestal of dignity and honor today.
You are important!
You are valuable!
You are essential!
We ask on your behalf that your environmental rights be guaranteed and protected.
Medical care, safe workplaces, fair hours, unemployment insurance, union wages and “the weekend”, a choice to work remotely are yours to enjoy.
You have a right to a level playing ground.
You have a right to equal employment selection criteria.
You have a right to be treated fairly and justly, no matter the color of your skin.
Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) rights and laws should not be mere words on paper.
We demand every one of its provisions for you.
We see the government and employers of labor truly guaranteeing your OHS rights and laws.
In this COVID-19 era,
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), portable air cleaners at your workplace, increase in the number of air changes at work, erection of partitions, barriers and splash guards are not the exclusive preserve of a few.
You have a right to be protected at your workplaces.
We however recognize that the environmental conditions of each workplace differ and so each worker’s need will be peculiar.
All in all, do what you can to celebrate Labour Day, 2021. Take a ride, go outdoors, be a part of the festivities, etc. Do what you will.
Remember the goose that lays the golden eggs needs to be taken care of.
Take care of you!
Happy Labour Day!
Written by Yinka Bakare.