Labour Day is more than the end of summer

by Sandy Lindsay


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While Labour Day weekend marks the end of summer for many, it is also the chance to remember what the weekend actually stands for.

Living in a community where unions predominate in the workforce, it is difficult to understand why so few people come for the annual Labour Day parade that features 'union retirees' who stood up for and defended what unions stand for ... fair trade practices, benefits, equal pay for equal work and support for families.

While many don't understand or appreciate unions, there are those who know that without them, we would still be in a time of child labour, a time of inequality for women, a time of poor wages and no benefits, a time of 60-hour work weeks with no overtime and many mor

[To read the origins of unions in Canada Click here ]

I have never belonged to a union, nor has any member of my immediate family, but do we understand and appreciate what they stand for .... absolutely!

Governments are rapidly eroding unions through wage freezes and reductions in benefits.  Don't belong to a union?  Don't think these government steps matter in the private sector?  Wrong.  As benefits are taken away and as wages are frozen and jobs head overseas, our own Canadian workers are feeling the affects.

How many are now working part-time?  How many now have no benefits?  How many are being asked to work overtime with no overtime compensation?  How many are having to work two and three jobs to make ends meet? These are only some of the things that unions originally fought against and here they are ... back again!  Still think unions aren't important??

Union stands against injustice in the workplace meant shrinking the gap between the rich 'haves' and the have-nots.  Today, that gap is again widening.  Why?  Because unions are being eroded as a method of control by those in power over those who actually perform the work and keep the economy rolling. 

Labour Day parades take place annually across Canada but, in Saugeen Shores, the home of the CAW workers' complex, the parade is billed as the largest 'Union Retirees' Parade' in North America.

This year, marks the 19th year for the parade and many participants have not missed attending even one and, yet, there are those who have not even attended one but still reap the benefits of those retirees who stood up.

Throughout the week, the retirees who are the "backbone of the unions" will be meeting at the CAW complex in Port Elgin and discussing the challenges that unions are facing in today's economy ... and they are numerous and grim in this country.

The Labour movement is a partner for positive social change and prosperity for our region and beyond. Have spare time on Monday ... Labour Day?  Why not go out and show support for those retirees who fought for workers and their rights, actually, ...  who fought for your rights and benefits in the workplace?

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Saturday, September 01, 2012