Labour Day is an important
reminder that the struggle for workers` rights goes on every day all around us.
Most media and politicians take every
available chance to frame Unions and unionized workers in a negative way.
pitted against each other and while our focus is distracted, most of us don`t notice the systematic
dismantling of workers` rights that`s happening right under our noses across the nation.
Canada is still a beacon of
freedom and progress in some respects but we take a lot for granted in this country. Imagine if here
at home we still had to fight against child labour, piece rate pay tied to
no bathroom breaks, locked emergency exits, blocked stairwells and passageways, no venting for chemicals and fumes, no maternity leave, and no overtime
pay… just to name a few.
We all saw coverage of the Tazreen
garment factory fire in Bangladesh last November where 112 workers died. And this past April, more than 1,100 Bangladeshi workers were
killed in another workplace tragedy when the 8-story Rana Plaza factory collapsed. And there are many stories of struggles around the world, with lives lost in pursuit of basic human
rights, which will never be told.
Companies in countries where labour standards are poor
at best, continue to cut costs and comers to sell to huge global
conglomerates that pass those `savings` on to consumers around the globe. We might be on the other side of the world-
but we can make a difference.
Choose Canadian made products -not
just `packaged in Canada` products. Choose Union-made
products. Choose to purchase from companies that take an environmentally, economically and socially responsible approach to
their business practices. Choose to be informed. We can`t always make perfect choices but making the best one possible is not difficult.
Understand that making those choices is about standing up and
saying I will NOT support the mistreatment of workers in ANY country and I will
NOT support the outsourcing of Canadian jobs to countries with non-existent
non-existent human rights.
While we celebrate Labour Day and the
achievements we`ve made as a labour movement, please remember that we need to
continue to work hard to maintain those achievements. We cannot be complacent. We cannot let our
rights be stripped away through legislation like the Conservative`s Right to Work
bill. We cannot allow politicians and corporations to force us into an economy where all anyone
can afford is the cheapest option, while companies make record-breaking profits.
Thank you to everyone
who came out to celebrate Labour Day this year and I hope to see more of you out in years to come.
Remember that there is fierce solidarity within the global
labour movement. Reach out and get
involved! Your rights and future are on the line.
Secretary-Treasurer, UFCW Local 175