Labour Day, Traditions
Traditionally, Labour Day was an occasion to campaign for workers’ rights. A time to celebrate workers on Labour Day with parades and picnics organized by trade unions.
Today, parades still play a role for some Canadians. But many people see the first Monday in September as the last long weekend of the summer. An opportunity to take one last trip to the cottage. Or enjoy a BBQ with family and friends.
For students, the weekend is the last chance to lay back or celebrate before school re-opens. And the final opportunity to get just the right outfit to start the new school year! Sorry, a childhood memory of mine and most likely not relevant in 2022.
Canadian football fans spend time this weekend watching the Labour Day Classic matches. The Classic consists of three games between high-ranking CFL teams. One match is played on Sunday and two matches on Monday.
Then there is the disruption to traffic around parades, particularly in Toronto. To say nothing of the congestion on highways and at airports as people return from summer vacations.
If you are in the business of warehousing, like we are, this weekend signals the start of an increase in customer inventory. The beginning of the build-up to the Christmas Holiday season.
It is surely one of the busiest weekends of the year here in Canada. So, when did Labour Day start and why?
The Back Story of why we Celebrate Workers on Labour Day
1872 The Fight for a Shorter Workweek
The origins of Labour Day can be traced back to April 15, 1872. On that day, the Toronto Trades Assembly organized Canada’s first significant demonstration for workers’ rights.
The demonstration aimed to release 24 leaders of the Toronto Typographical Union. Those who were imprisoned for striking for a nine-hour working day in March of that year. Back then, unions and striking were criminal offences. Imagine working at least ten or more hours a day. Every day. In fact, that’s what many of Toronto’s print workers’ daily lives looked like in 1872.
Shortly thereafter, Sir John A. Macdonald introduced the Trade Union Act legalizing and protecting unions. Then he promised to repeal all Canadian laws against trade unions. This led to the founding of the Canadian Labour Congress in 1883.
The strike in Toronto evolved into the “Nine-Hour Movement”. A day to celebrate workers, Labour Day. Actually, the day was originally celebrated in the spring, but it was moved to the fall after 1894. Canadian trade unions are proud that this holiday was inspired by their efforts to improve workers’ rights. And now, we celebrate workers on Labour Day every September long weekend in communities across Canada.
The History of the Canadian Labour Congress
Canada’s labour movement has a long history of improving workers’ everyday lives.
“We fought for and won many of the rights enjoyed by all workers today – minimum wages, overtime pay, workplace safety standards, maternity and parental leave, vacation pay, and protection from discrimination and harassment.” Source-Canadian Labour Congress (CLC)
- Workplace Health and Safety
The CLC championed for Canadian workers have the right to refuse unsafe work. The right to be informed about hazards in the workplace and the right to participate in health and safety discussions. To this, employers must fulfil their obligations to keep workers safe.
- Social Justice and Democracy
Additionally, they advocated that everyone deserves a fair chance to succeed and contribute. Economic and social barriers can prevent people from reaching their fullest potential.
- Ending Discrimination
Promote fairness, equality, and freedom from violence for all workers, regardless of age, race, religion, ability, sex, gender identity and gender expression, or sexuality. They help to educate and empower so that all workplaces are welcoming and inclusive.
- Trade and International Affairs
International trade is a vital part of the Canadian economy. The CLC actioned for international trade agreements that must promote economic equality. Encourage the creation of good jobs. Support the interests of working people, and ensure ecological sustainability.
So, whether you belong to a union, work for the private sector or are a Federal, Provincial employee we have 24 leaders from 1872 to thank for this end-of-summer weekend.
As previously noted, this weekend signals the start of an increase in customer inventory. With this in mind, check out Predicting Seasonal Changes. Learn how Canada’s northern location and changing seasons drastically impact the supply chain.