It’s Labour Day, a holiday Monday usually dedicated to cottages, barbecues and end-of-summer parties.
However, its roots lie in a rebellion by the working class in an effort to get a nine hour work-week, started by printers in Toronto.
The workers’ rights we enjoy now were first fought for over one hundred years ago.
The following is a description of the history:
The origins of Labour Day can be traced back to April 15, 1872, when the Toronto Trades Assembly brought together Canada’s first major demonstration for worker rights. The objective was to release 24 members of the Toronto Typographical Union who were imprisoned for striking to campaign in favour of a nine-hour work day.
At this time, trade unions were still illegal and striking was seen as a criminal conspiracy to disrupt trade. In spite of this, the Toronto Trades Assembly was already a significant organization and encouraged workers to form trade unions, mediated in disputes between employers and employees and signaled the mistreatment of workers.
There was enormous public support for the parade and the authorities could no longer deny the important role that the trade unions had to play in the emerging Canadian society. A few months later, a similar parade was organized in Ottawa and passed the house of Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John Macdonald.
Later in the day, he appeared before the gathering and promised to repeal all Canadian laws against trade unions. This happened in the same year and eventually led to the founding of the Canadian Labour Congress in 1883.
Labour Day was originally celebrated in the spring but it was moved to the fall after 1894. A similar holiday, Labor Day is held on the same day in the United States. Canadian trade unions are proud that this holiday was inspired by their efforts to improve workers’ rights. Many countries have a holiday to celebrate workers’ rights on or around May 1.
So today, the first Monday of September, take a moment to remember why the holiday exists. Workers’ rights are so important and it’s something I stand for, that is why I have endorsed the We Are Guelph platform put out to candidates by the Guelph and District Labour Council.
You can read that full platform here: VoteRidder.ca/labour
Today I will also be out with some members of Team VoteRidder dropping off door hangers. Remember, if you got one today and want to order a sign, you can do so at VoteRidder.ca/signs.