A History Worth Understanding.
“Every day that they put this legislation off to the future is more time to negotiate.” – Sid Ryan.
As Canadians, we enjoy a remarkable history related to the development of unions and the labour movement. This historic past is built on the need for social change that provides a future benefit to all of us as workers in Canada. Most of Canadian labour history provides evidence of our more peaceful natures as powerful union leaders; such as, Sid Ryan’s use effective negotiation skills to achieve legislative changes. There are however, critical moments in our collective history based on violence and turbulent times. All of this history continues to be celebrated annually on Labour Day, which is a statutory Canadian federal holiday.
The importance of Labour Day and its connection to the history of the labour movement is highlighted in the following article:
Since this article was first published, in 2009, there have been numerous legislative changes that have continued to improve the lives of Canadian workers as a result of the drive and dedication of the labour movement in Canada. The future of the labour movement in Canada is built on numerous significant events from the past.
Unions have drastically altered our society and our economy. We have all benefited from the labour movement for such things as workplace safety, greater vacation, and maternity and parental leave benefits. When we remember the past and think about the future, do we want to live in an economy or do we want to live in a society with an economy? Unions support the latter and continue to change history as a result.
Clearly, history does not stop. It provides us with pictures of moments in time that we may not recognize as important when they are happening. Labour Day provides us with an opportunity to celebrate our collective labour history, reflect on those important moments in time, and to honour our past as we look to the future.
- This article is dated from 2009. Identify new workplace legislation that has been implemented since that time either federally or in the province where you live. What is the link between each piece of new legislation and the labour movement?
- What types of workplace benefits do you enjoy as a result of the labour movement in Canada?
- Which historic labour-related event do you think has had the most impact on the lives of Canadian workers?
- How do you celebrate labour day?
- Will you participate in the next Labour Day parade in your community? Why or why not?
- What would prompt you to participate in a Labour Day parade?