Reflecting on the Roots of Labour Day
Publish date: Tuesday, August 27, 2019
Dear PEA Members,
For many of us, the first Monday in September signifies the end of summer. Families are busy preparing for back to school or taking in the last summer rays on a lake, mountain, river or even the back yard barbeque with friends. During this time with family and friends, the PEA encourages you to take the time to reflect on the roots of Labour Day and how it came to be.
The foundation of this holiday dates back to the late 1700s when working-class people fought against the employer’s expectation that they were to work 12 or more hours per day. In April of 1872 thousands of workers and supporters paraded the streets of Toronto in solidarity. The risk and efforts of these people and their unions took to fight for the establishment of the nine-hour workday (now improved to an eight hour day). These efforts planted the seed for the work-life balance we strive for today.
Many of these organizers and activists suffered from financial hardship, ostracization and even jail. Nonetheless, their actions were the catalyst for thousands of other working-class people to organize and rally for the same improvements in working conditions. The movement was so powerful that in 1894 their efforts were recognized and commemorated by the creation of a National Holiday—Labour Day.
This year on the 147th anniversary, consider taking the time to attend a Labour Day event, picnic or parade in your community to celebrate the ongoing efforts of the labour movement which continues to advocate for improved working rights and conditions for everyone.
All the best to you over the coming long weekend.