For over one hundred years working people and their unions have celebrated Labour Day. This is a time to reflect on past achievements and to look to our future.
Today, we are at a critical point in the evolution of the labour movement.
Some employers and governments, particularly the federal government, are trying to create a workplace without unions and without the benefits that unions have achieved over a century of struggle. The right wing of this country want a low paid workforce where workers have no pensions, no sick leave, no severance pay and no protection from employers.
Not only is there an attack on the benefits which flow from the collective bargaining strength of unions, they are also attacking the very fabric of our society. The age of retirement is increasing, EI benefits are reduced, and there is a significant lobby for a privatized health care system. These attacks are real and reflect a move towards an uncaring society.
In the face of these threats to our quality of life we have a duty to challenge this corporate/political agenda. This is a time to build on our achievements not be forced into a rush to the bottom.
As we celebrate this labour day holiday, let us reflect on the struggle that continues for workers around the world, in particular, the 36 striking miners in South Africa who just weeks ago were shot and killed by the police while striking for a decent wage.
As President of NAPE, and as the representative for over 27,000 workers in Newfoundland and Labrador, I will ensure that our union will continue to be an instrument for improving our standard of living. Our province is enjoying a time of unprecedented wealth and opportunity. We need a vision that ensures that all citizens share in this prosperity. We need to be creative in ensuing we have a future where those who follow us can share in our achievements. The last thing we need is to import the Harper government agenda.
This year all of our public sector collective agreements expire. This will create many challenges. We are well positioned to face these challenges. Our Union, NAPE, is strong and that is best demonstrated by the large number of new members who join our ranks each year. If government and employers share our vision for a better, more caring society and that we all share in our province’s wealth, we will easily reach new collective agreements. If they choose to go down a different path we will vigorously defend our members.
I am proud to acknowledge the contribution of NAPE members to building our province. I extend to NAPE member and all workers my best wishes for a safe and enjoyable Labour Day weekend.
Today we celebrate our past and dream of what can be if we all work together in our pursuit of a brighter future for all.
Thank you and enjoy your Labour Day Weekend.