Despite all the bad news we’re bombarded with on a daily basis, this is the best time to be alive. We’re living longer, healthier lives, we’re more educated and we’ve made groundbreaking achievements in science and technology like never before.
Our future is bright, but it must start with a fundamental respect for working people and the fight for workers’ rights that came before us.
We’re just a couple of weeks away from Labour Day, when we honour the working class struggle and solidarity that has shaped our modern reality.
It’s a time to reflect and to think ahead; to remember that our labour rights weren’t handed to us, they were hard-earned and we must never take them for granted. But as times change, our labour laws must change too.
It’s not news that precarious, part-time employment is on the rise. While right-leaning politicos tell us that young workers want flexibility, we know that all workers want stability and respect; to have the opportunity to work hard and build a life of their own.
It’s why Premier Ford’s attack on our labour rights is such an affront to our common sense of decency. We know that workers keep the economic engine running and they deserve a decent income and benefits – including those two paid sick days a year.
This Labour Day, let’s remember that our work as union activists is a labour of love and our fight for workers’ rights continues. Unions matter and the story of Labour Day shouldn’t be confined to the history books. We’re still living and breathing the working class struggle to this day.
From the “Nine-Hour Movement” to “$15 and Fairness” we’ve come a long way, but we’ve still got a long way to go.
It’s why I’m inspired by the work of OPSEU’s Provincial Young Workers’ Committee (PYC). These young workers are bridge builders; the leaders of today who are paving the way for a better tomorrow.
Recently, OPSEU’s PYC held its annual conference focused on encouraging young workers to organize collective action in response to the Ford government’s cutbacks – like the $300 million dollar cut to OSAP and the elimination of free tuition for low-income students.
This year’s theme: rising to meet the challenges of uncertain times – a theme we can all get behind this Labour Day.
Because after 25 years of austerity, we’ve seen the working life cycle disrupted; the cost of education has gone up, and the likelihood of getting a decent paying job after graduation has gone down. Young workers are saddled with whopping student debt, without the savings to buy their first home or start a family, let alone put aside money for their retirement.
We live in a society with a growing epidemic of seniors living in poverty, and if our governments don’t act now, it’s only going to get worse down the road.
Our bright future must start today: with affordable education and child care so that people can get the start they need, and with respect for working people and high-quality public services that make life more affordable.
In a wealthy province like Ontario, we can afford to invest in people and our future.
Yes, we’re living in challenging times, but as Labour Day approaches, it’s important to remember that this isn’t the first time workers have faced challenges. History’s lessons of collective action and solidarity remind us that we’re on the right path.
It’s why I’m honoured that you put your trust in me at Convention, to continue to serve as First Vice-President/Treasurer during these challenging times. By working together, we can achieve a better Ontario for all.
Our fight continues.
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida
Ontario Public Service Employees Union