The Labour Movement and Statutory Pay
The establishment of holiday pay in Canada is closely tied to the efforts and influence of Labour Unions. In this blog post, we will go over a brief history of how Unions played a role in the establishment of holiday pay in Canada:
Early Labour Movement: In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Canada experienced rapid industrialization and the growth of the labour movement. Workers endured long hours, low wages, and dangerous working conditions. Labour Unions emerged as a response to these challenges, representing workers’ interests and advocating for better rights and working conditions.
Collective Bargaining: As we know, one of the primary functions of Labour Unions is to engage in collective bargaining with employers. In the early stages of the labour movement, the focus was primarily on basic rights, such as fair wages and reasonable working hours.
Labour Legislation: As the labour movement gained momentum, several Canadian provinces began passing progressive labour legislation to protect workers’ rights. For example, the Industrial Disputes Investigation Act of 1907 in British Columbia provided for the establishment of conciliation boards to resolve labour disputes.
Recognition of Public Holidays: The recognition of public holidays and the creation of holiday pay were gradual processes influenced by the labour movement. In the early 1900s, Unions started advocating for paid time off on holidays, which initially focused on major holidays like Christmas and New Year’s Day. Unions argued that workers should be able to spend time with their families and have time for rest and leisure.
Influence of Union Contracts: Labour Unions were able to negotiate contracts that included provisions for holiday pay. Unionized workers often had stronger protections and benefits compared to non-unionized workers. These contracts provided for paid time off on designated holidays, ensuring that workers received compensation for working on those days or received additional pay if they were required to work.
Widespread Adoption: Over time, the concept of holiday pay gained broader acceptance and was eventually adopted by various industries and provinces. As the labour movement grew in strength and influence, the demand for fair compensation for working on holidays became more widespread. This led to the recognition and implementation of statutory holiday pay in labour laws across Canada.
Legal Protections: Today, holiday pay is protected by labour legislation at both the federal and provincial levels in Canada. These laws stipulate the entitlements and conditions for holiday pay, including the right to a day off with pay on designated public holidays or additional compensation if required to work on those days.
The Labour movement has always been intrinsically important for workers. The creation and eventual protections of stat pay would not have been possible without Unions. ATU Local 583 and our affiliates continue to work to add protective language to Collective Agreements and to make better working conditions into laws.
So, for as far as Unions have come and for every gain we have made, we can not let our guard down for even a moment. Repressive government legislation like we are seeing right here in Alberta, that strips down Employment Standards protections and Labour Board regulations, diminishes those things our predecessors fought so hard to gain.
It is as true today as it was then, that it is the collective strength of Unions that will accomplish what is almost impossible to do as an individual.
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