On Monday, September 5, members of OSSTF/FEESO will be joining other union members all over the province at picnics, barbecues and parades to celebrate Labour Day 2016. It’s a day on which we recognize and commemorate the many battles fought and won, not just by our own union, but by the broader labour movement in Ontario and across Canada over the decades.
It’s also a day when we remind ourselves how many struggles are ongoing, and that we can never become complacent about the gains we have made over the years. Our most recent rounds of bargaining have proven, in no uncertain terms, the extent to which some of our employers are determined to roll back the gains we’ve made – to strip our collective agreements of long-standing protections and well-established rights.
And on this Labour Day in particular, as the provincial government contemplates changes to the laws governing labour practices, we turn our attention to the hundreds of thousands of Ontario workers trapped in low-paying, precarious jobs. Workers who, without the protection of a union, are forced to rely on an antiquated and ineffective Employment Standards Act to provide some meagre semblance of fairness in the workplace. Workers who have no choice but to accept short term contracts with no access to benefits, sick days or paid vacation. And with a minimum wage that’s 16 percent below the poverty line, far too many hard-working people in Ontario have to choose every month between paying the rent and putting food on the table.
In 2016, fairness in every workplace and a living wage for every worker should be a given, not a goal that we’re still struggling to achieve.
So this year on Labour Day, as we celebrate how far we’ve come as a movement, let’s not lose sight of how far we still have to go. I urge you all to embrace the Ontario Federation of Labour’s Make it Fair campaign, and I hope as many of you as possible will start making plans to attend the Rally for Decent Work at Queen’s Park in Toronto on October 1, 2016.
Happy Labour Day!