Labour Day is coming up this weekend, but do you know the history behind it? Victoria News file photo

Labour Day celebrated to remember workers’ rights

National holiday characterized by most as summer’s last long weekend, but there’s a history there

The Labour Day long weekend has long marked the end of summer and the kickoff of a new school year for people in Canada – but what does it really stand for?

“Labour Day is an important day for the labour force and the labour movement,” says Mike Eso, president of the Victoria Labour Council. “It’s clear now there are many things we take for granted, such as the right to a safe environment, paid vacations, sick leave and an eight-hour work day… it’s about the people fighting to achieve those rights.”

Labour Day has been celebrated in Canada since the 1880s, and began after an infamous parade was staged in Toronto in December, 1872 in support of the Toronto Typographical Union’s strike. At the time, trade unions were still illegal.

Workers were fighting for a 58-hour work week, and many were arrested during the strike action. This spawned more demonstrations, which prompted the federal parliament to pass the Trade Union Act on June 14, 1872, which decriminalized unions and prompted most of them to pursue a 54-hour work week.

A parade held in celebration of the union workers became an annual event, and in 1894, Labour Day was declared a national holiday.

Fast forward to 2018 and a 40-hour week, but there’s still room for improvement, Eso says.

“One of the biggest campaigns that organized labour councils in Canada have now is to trying to establish a national pharmacare program,” he says. “It’s long past the time that we should establish a national pharmacare system to look at covering the costs for medications.”

Eso adds that labour councils in Canada represent over two million workers.

In Victoria, Labour Day celebrations will take place at the B.C. legislature from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m on Sept. 3. Festivities include live music, food, and kids events for everyone to enjoy.

For more information about local unions and other topics, you can head to victorialabour.ca.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Just Posted

New childcare in Langford looking for toddlers and teachers

Willowbrae Academy puts an emphasis on healthy living habits with the team from Body Break

Mike Hicks steps down as SEAPARC chairman

Sooke Coun. Al Beddows takes on position

GALLERY: Shots of the lunar eclipse from Victoria and beyond

Amateur and professional photographers capture the stunning celestial event

Head of Greater Victoria builders warns of changing construction climate

VRBA director Casey Edge also questions Saanich’s commitment towards housing affordability

Saanich police are looking for a man who exposed himself Saturday night

The incident exposure happened at the intersection of Feltham Road and Shelbourne Street

WATCH: Celebration of Life hosted for 29 Victoria trees set to be removed

Community Trees Matter Network hosting “goodbye and thank you” for trees on Fort Street

Woman offers luxury Alberta home for just $25 and a flair for the written word

Alla Wagner ran into health problems, which forced her to list the 5,000-square-foot estate at market value

46% of Canadians $200 or less away from financial insolvency: poll

45% cent of those surveyed say they will need to go further into debt to pay their living and family expenses

Vancouver Island charity thrift store blackened by late night fire

All Too Good to be Threw profits were used to support Comox Valley Transition society programs

Vancouver Island to get its first publicly funded dementia village

Campus planned for Comox encourages independent activity, freedom to move

World economy forecast to slow in 2019 amid trade tensions

For Canada, the IMF’s estimate for growth in 2019 was 1.9 per cent, down from expected global growth of 3.5 per cent

‘Gotti’ leads Razzie nominations, Trump up for worst actor

The nominations were announced on Monday, Jan. 21 with some movies earning up to six nominations

Patriots make 3rd straight Super Bowl, beat Chiefs 37-31 in OT

New England will meet L.A. Rams in NFL title game

Most Read