Labour Day is about celebrating the contributions made by all working people, but is also an opportune time for people to rededicate themselves to securing the respect that is often lacking in so many arenas when referring to working people. For instance; when was the last time a corporate or financial leader or member of any sitting government called for the first priority to be the well being of their employees or their constituents? We know all too well that the easy platitude for these same corporate people is to say things such as "people are our most important asset" or "we are in the people business". In the world of government the words are different, but just as hollow and insincere. Overwhelmingly, the evidence demonstrates that corporations find it easy to put just about anything ahead of the needs of their employees-even in spite of legislation that would not support such behavior- and that the basis of existence for the majority of politicians is re-election or shameless pandering to their corporate benefactors.
The leading edge of social change is very often the domain of Labour activists. This is easily demonstrated by the involvement of organized labour in the creation of such necessary legislation as the Occupational Health and Safety Act, various Human Rights Legislations, the Labour Relations Act and the Employment Standards Act. Of course this does not happen because corporate leaders or governments have a desire to see progressive legislation enacted, but because workers took their rightful place on the social agenda of the day and took the argument and battle for worker's rights to election campaigns and the ballot box in collaboration with other partners of social conscience.
People often call for change, but can't seem to reach a place where the fundamental changes needed are actually acted on and it is this challenge that must be picked up and acted on as we look forward from the upcoming Labour Day Celebrations. The control that corporate leaders exercise on the political agenda of the day is entirely based on the comfort provided by a history of voter complacency where the status quo or another version of the status quo is implanted in the seats of government; term after term. The biggest fear of the corporate and financial leadership resides in an educated electorate making choices at the ballot box that they know will improve the life of working people. Examples of making such choices would be a TOTAL rejection of policies that diminish defined benefit pension plans, that support free trade policies as compared to fair trade policies, that support privatization and deregulation ahead of public ownership and adequate regulation to name but a few such items.
How do workers, and for that matter all people of social conscience, do this? They reject the recent history of elections at all levels and educate themselves on all issues and vote as educated voters to prescriptively vote in people that put workers and the rights of workers ahead of corporate greed. This may sound to some degree to be revolutionary, but it is only by doing so will we put ourselves once again in a place where we can establish and sustain such ideas as universal health care which if you will remember was initially rejected by the mainstream of the establishment, but to-day is part of the Canadian identity.
The Canadian identity has always been one of inclusiveness and the collective good and it is only the establishment and sustaining of an educated and active electorate that stands between us and this lofty ideal. Take the time to re-affirm the rightful place of the real wealth makers of this country, workers, on this Labour Day and resolve to be the most educated and active electorate in a few generations and let us take the agenda back to a place where working people are the focus of corporate and governmental policy.
Happy Labour Day
Grey-Bruce Labour Council