Labour Views for April 30, 2014


Submitted by Mary Lou Cherwaty, President


Happy May Day!

Tomorrow is May Day, also known as International Workers’ Day. It is a celebration of the international labour movement and is a national holiday in more than 80 countries worldwide. In many other countries, like ours, it is celebrated by the labour community but not recognized by governments.

It began as a commemoration of the 1886 Haymarket riots, where police shot and killed many public demonstrators who were supporting a general strike for the eight-hour workday.

Ultra conservative governments have sought to repress the message behind International Workers’ Day, with fascist governments in Italy, Portugal, Germany and Spain abolishing the workers’ holiday.  President Grover Cleveland of the United States feared providing an opportunity to commemorate the Haymarket riots and moved to support the first Monday in September as “Labour Day”.  Canada followed suit.

In 1955, the Catholic Church recognized May 1st when it dedicated today to Saint Joseph, the patron saint of workers and craftsmen.

I urge you to take a moment tomorrow to “thank a worker”! Our businesses, our communities and, indeed, our country would not exist without them.

 Safety First!

Next week, from May 4 to 10, is North American Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) Week.  NAOSH week was first launched in June 1997, marked by an agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico. The continent-wide event highlights to the public, government, and industry the importance of increasing understanding and raising awareness of occupational safety and health. The goal of NAOSH Week is to focus the attention of employers, employees, the general public, and all partners in occupational safety and health on the importance of preventing injury and illness in the workplace, at home and in the community.

Safety professionals are tasked with guiding organizations, leaders and workers to an understanding of workplace risks, and required control measures so that the health and safety of people, property, and the environment is protected. Every day, we rely on these professionals to help make sure that workers get to go home at the end of the day.  Take a moment next Wednesday, on Safety Professionals’ Day, to thank the safety professional in your organization.

At the National Day of Mourning ceremony on April 28th we remembered and honoured those whose lives have been lost as a result of workplace tragedies in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut; and we made a commitment to continue to fight for the living.

I encourage everyone to participate in the Workers’ Safety & Compensation Commission’s events next week and invite you to join us for lunch on Friday May 9, in the Centre Square Mall.  Food and beverages will be supplied by the Northern Territories Federation of Labour.