Workers express profound concern for their living and working conditions
Labour Day 2016 was marked by marches and other events which brought forward the deep concerns of workers and working families and their determination to fight for what belongs to them by right. Major concerns include the deterioration of their working and living conditions, joblessness, lack of security in retirement, the consequences of attacks on the public health care system, as well as all the current labour battles being fought. (Courtesy of Workers’ Forum, September 15, 2016)
More than 1,000 workers and their families took part in the annual labour day parade in Hamilton. Members of United Steelworkers Local 1005 who have been locked out by Max Aicher North America (MANA) since 2013 stood at the head of the parade with fellow steelworkers in the midst of another battle to hold U.S. Steel to account. All sectors of Hamilton’s economy were represented. Participants demanded a stop to the privatization of Ontario’s public services, an increased minimum wage, pay equity and a national child care program, as well as recognition of migrant workers’ rights and granting of permanent residency.
Workers and their unions from every sector of the economy participated in Toronto’s Labour Day Parade. They demanded society recognize the right to a secure livelihood, a living wage and pensions and benefits for all at the highest level the country can provide. Workers called on the Liberal governments at the federal and provincial level to increase investments in social programs and public services to ensure a sustainable human and social environment for all Canadians. Many of the speeches at the beginning of the march highlighted that despite their promises, the Trudeau Liberals are now the ones attacking workers’ rights and these attacks must be resisted.
Thousands of working people from across Windsor and Essex County from all sectors of the economy joined the march led by striking Essex County librarians, members of CUPE Local 2974. The librarians have been on strike for two and a half months to resist the efforts of the Library Board to eliminate sick leave protections for part-time workers. A contingent of activists also participated as part of the national campaign “Harvesting Freedom” fighting for the rights of migrant workers.
Calgary held its Eighth Annual Calgary and District Labour Council BBQ for the Unemployed and Underemployed. Thousands of workers participated and union members as well as MLAs served food. Unemployment is now officially at 8.6 per cent in Alberta and many workers spoke about the extreme difficulty in finding employment after losing their jobs.
A highlight of the 26th annual Edmonton and District Labour Council BBQ was the participation of injured workers whose banner and leaflet demanded justice. Many people signed the injured workers’ petition calling for the renewal of Alberta’s workers’ compensation system and for an end the denial of compensation. In their discussions, workers made clear that they are in a fighting mood and will not permit the satisfaction of their demands to be dependent on the price of oil.
Labour Day celebrations in Prince George, BC, were a resounding success with more than 2,000 people participating in the march and other activities held on the City Hall lawn over the course of the morning and afternoon. The event was organized by the Labour Day Organizing Committee and the North Central Labour Council, and sponsored by 18 local unions, along with a number of community groups and businesses. The overall theme was: Labour Movement — Past, Present, Future: Fighting for the Rights of All!
Some 1,000 participated in the Vancouver Lower Mainland Labour Day picnic held at Swangard Stadium in Burnaby.
Labour Day picnics were held in Port Alberni, Ladysmith, Victoria and Black Creek, organized by the four District Labour Councils on the Island. Hundreds of workers and their families participated in the events.
(Photos: Workers’ Forum, Foundry Photography, CUPE BC, Winnipeg Labour Council, J. Watson, A. Howe)