Labour Day in Canada — indeed, across North America — has become most celebrated as the last long weekend of the summer. It is marked primarily by camp outs, barbecues and end-of-season travel squeezed in before the kids go back to school.
Originally, however, the day was set aside to commemorate the pioneering trade unionists who battled for rights that today’s workers take for granted.
A year ago, the battle for labour rights and the start of a new school year collided on the North Island and throughout British Columbia.
Unable to make any headway in negotiations with the province, the B.C. Teachers’ Federation opened the school year with a job action that pulled teachers from involvement in sports, field trips and other extra-curricular activities.
When local school doors open following the upcoming long weekend, it will be business as usual with teachers assisting administrators in noon/recess duty, coaching sports teams and assisting fund-raisers.
But the BCTF deal with the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association was made under threat of looming legislation, and it remains an uneasy truce. For the teachers, the long-term fight is not over.
Go ahead — enjoy the cookout, the trip, the extra day off. Labour resumes the following day.