On the last long weekend of the summer, the Cape Breton District Labour Council and the Strait Area District Labour Council are both preparing for annual Labour Day festivities.
Though popularly known as an end of summer family day celebration, the day of celebrating worker solidarity in Canada has its origins in the late 19th century with the rise of unions and their demands for better working conditions and shorter hours.
The Strait Area Labour Council is holding their second annual Labour Day Barbeque at 2:00pm on Monday September 6th, to be held at the CEP Hall at 323 Reeve Street in Port Hawkesbury. Hotdogs and hamburgers will be provided for free to members of the community and union members who attend.
The Cape Breton District Labour Council’s annual picnic will also be on Monday, September 6th, from 12:00pm to 2:00pm at the downtown Sydney Boardwalk, behind the Civic Centre. It will be a family event with free food, music, speeches, giveaways, and entertainment for children, including an appearance by Klutzy the Clown. “It’s going to be a really fun afternoon,” said Wendy Walsh, Labour Council Treasurer. “It’s a good day for families to get together, and for trade unionists to get together and celebrate.”
One of the Sydney Labour Day picnic’s traditions is a 50-50 draw. If any workers are on strike in the area the proceeds go to support them, otherwise funds are donated to a charity or organization. This year, donations will be directed towards the Special Olympics.
The Cape Breton District Labour Council represents over 10,000 workers in the CBRM area, in all sectors of the local economy. The Strait Area District Labour Council represents over 7500 workers in the regions from Antigonish, the Strait area, and most of Cape Breton Island outside the CBRM.
Members of the community, whether they belong to a union or not, are welcome and encouraged to attend either event.
Labour Day events in Nova Scotia are supported by the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour which represents over 80,000 workers and affiliate unions across the province, as well as the Canadian Labour Congress.
“Across Canada, the overall theme for Labour Day for this year is a call for government action on retirement security,” said Canadian Labour Congress Atlantic Regional Representative Tony Tracy. “The labour movement throughout the country is united in calling on the federal and provincial governments to enact reform to Canada’s pension system to ensure that seniors are not living in poverty and to protect workplace pensions. A key component of that reform would be strengthening the Canada Pension Plan (CPP).”
Tracy said that workers in Nova Scotia will also be calling for progressive labour law reform in Nova Scotia. “Workers in our province are faced with too many obstacles and red tape when they come together to form a union with their co-workers to achieve dignity and respect in their workplace, and reform to the Trade Union Act which would not be an issue of financial cost to the provincial government”, said Tracy.