There is a history to this long weekend that has been lost for many people in this generation.
The first weekend of September is more than just the last chance to enjoy a little free time in the summer. And there’s definitely more to Labour Day than a final chance to hit the mall for another back to school sale.
Then there’s the ongoing drama involving the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and the Ministry of Education. The dispute has some questioning whether the teachers’ unions have the best interests of our kids at heart. After all, if the education system is disrupted, the hardest hit won’t be the folks in government who make the rules that the teachers are fighting against.
To be fair, every indication suggests the BCTF has taken into account the affects on classrooms of any job action. When kids go back to school next, they should be oblivious that their teachers are even partaking in a dispute. That’s the way it should be.
The labour movement has come a long way from the days when workers were little more than pawns for people with capital. Over the centuries, hard-fought movements have entrenched rights such as reasonable work weeks, guaranteed vacation days and proper safety standards.
In many ways, the labour movement forced the hand of companies to ensure they adopted better management. Isn’t that what unions are – a way for workers to have a say in how they’re managed?
These days, the labour movement still serves a vital role as a counterbalance to market forces. Free enterprise and laissez-faire capitalism have been invaluable to our economies and helped ensure our governments are healthy enough to provide so many of the things the population demands.
But the labour movement has also enriched our province, both by ensuring a better life for individual British Columbians and by forcing industry to find the benefits of a more dynamic workforce.
Happy, well-balanced employees are a resource that anyone can see is something worth fighting for.