Have you ever wondered where this statutory holiday came from? Or what happened in Canada to spark this day? This Labour Day is brought to you by the labour movement in 1872. By workers fighting back against the system to better their lives in the current conditions of capitalist culture. In Canada’s History, Joanna Dawson writes:
“At the time, unions were illegal in Canada, which was still operating under an archaic British law already abolished in England.
For over three years the Toronto Printers Union had been lobbying its employers for a shorter work week. Inspired by workers in Hamilton who had begun the movement for a nine-hour work day, the Toronto printers threatened to strike if their demands weren’t met. After repeatedly being ignored by their employers, the workers took bold action and on March 25, 1872, they went on strike.
Toronto’s publishing industry was paralyzed and the printers soon had the support of other workers. On April 14, a group of 2,000 workers marched through the streets in a show of solidarity. They picked up even more supporters along the way and by the time they reached their destination of Queen’s Park, their parade had 10,000 participants – one tenth of the city’s population.
The employers were forced to take notice. Led by George Brown, founder of the Toronto Globe and notable Liberal, the publishers retaliated. Brown brought in workers from nearby towns to replace the printers. He even took legal action to quell the strike and had the strike leaders charged and arrested for criminal conspiracy.”
Read more at The First Labour Day by Joanna Dawson (2015)
Labour Day is not just about a day off or a long weekend to hide away from reality. Labour Day is a call to celebrate the lives and the role of workers in our society. We are the working class who drive our economy to make ends meet. We are the working class who work double and triple shifts to survive in this capitalist culture. As they say, we are the 99% and we are invaluable.
We at Plan B acknowledge the role and the need to support the workers within our capitalist culture who are far too often overlooked and invalidated. We are calling attention to the work done by women of colour, persons of colour, immigrants, refugees, youths, (dis)abled persons, minimum wage workers, older persons, queer persons, activists, and street persons. We support the need to celebrate and the need to better the lives of immigrant workers, part-time workers, union workers, health care workers, relief workers, teachers, domestic workers, industrial workers, and sex workers. We deserve safer work environments, we deserve benefits, we deserve fair pay and living wages, and we deserve security and sustainable jobs; we deserve so much.
As we celebrate our deserved day off today, we hope to continue to fight for economic change by reversing income inequality and by subverting our current capitalist culture. We hope to continue to challenge these systems of oppression by supporting each other. We are strength in numbers and we are strength together.
Thank you for all of the work that you do to survive.
Organizers of Plan B