Given the last while and the continued attack on unionized workers it’s time we took a moment and think about the importance of the labour movement and the benefits it has brought to working people in our province.
Unions enable working people to come together and help to build good jobs for themselves and their families, strengthen our economy, and ensure that workers are treated with fairness and dignity. Together, the labour movement has fought for vital protections and benefits all workers, like, minimum wage, maternity leave, workplace health and safety, vacations, and more recently, an enhanced Canada Pension Plan.
At a time when income inequality and precarious work are major concerns for many families and young people, our unions continue to fight for good jobs, fair wages, and safer workplaces. Unions advocate for things that matter to all of us, like protecting and strengthening public services such as healthcare and education. The labour movement also partners with anti-poverty organizations to eliminate poverty and reduce income inequality.
Labour groups across the country are calling on our governments to make the minimum wage a living wage, with Alberta and Ontario moving in progressive ways on this and BC soon to follow. It has been proven time and time again that populations with higher rates of unionization do better than those that have lower rates. Unions help workers make better wages and provide jobs with more security. Unions play a significant role in stimulating the economy. Higher wages allow working people to afford homes and have more disposable income to spend in their local economy, creating more demand for businesses and more jobs. Higher wages contribute to more robust tax revenues that pay for healthcare, education, roads and bridges, and the many other public services we all rely on every day.
Unions play a significant role in furthering diversity and gender equity in our workplaces. Unions work because they give workers a collective voice in the workplace that is much stronger than the voice of one worker alone. By standing together, workers can negotiate from a position of strength with their employer that they would not be able to on their own.
Imagine what our country would look like without unions. Imagine that if the union movement hadn’t fought for and won pension plans like the CPP and Old Age Security which have drastically reduced the rate of poverty among seniors in Canada. Imagine if we didn’t have parental leave or safety and health regulations in our workplaces. Imagine a world where working hours and time off were controlled completely by the employer. These aren’t just things that benefit workers in unionized workplaces.
They benefit all Canadians. Moving forward, workers and their unions will continue to build prosperity and a fairer economic future for all Canadians. Anyone who says unions have outlived their usefulness is just wrong. Unions are as important today as they have ever been.