“While most of us are staying home and practising social distancing, health care and other front-line workers are dealing with containment, testing, and treatment of those who have contracted COVID-19 and providing other essential services. Other front-line workers are keeping our houses warm and lighted, our water flowing, our mail delivered, our garbage collected, and our citizens and our communities healthy, safe and informed,” says Daniel Legere, President of the New Brunswick Federation of Labour, “on May 1, International Workers Day, let’s take a moment to thank these workers for the essential services that they provide.”
May Day is recognized around the world. It traces its origins to the mid 1880s when a movement of workers protested to get an eight-hour workday. The New Brunswick Federation of Labour wishes everyone a Happy International Workers’ Day! This year, it is all the more important to highlight what workers bring to our society. Several essential workers are putting their lives at risk so the rest of us can safely stay at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“COVID-19 is redefining what is considered an essential worker,” says Daniel Legere. “Many essential workers are making minimum wage or just above it. Many have limited or no benefits, no paid sick days and no pensions. Many do not work regular hours, and the vast majority do not belong to a union. They are vulnerable workers, and the majority are women.”
Their work is essential yet many of these workers do not qualify for regular or sick leave, EI benefits and they cannot quit their jobs. They will not qualify for Canada’s Emergency Care Benefit (CERB) and by remaining at work, many make less than they could on the CERB over the next 16 weeks.
“Just like activists fought many decades ago for an 8-hour work-day,” concludes Legere, “Let’s stand up together for the working-class heroes who are looking after us during this difficult time. Let’s ask that they receive decent wages, benefits and working conditions – because even heroes need those.”
The NBFL is the central voice of organized labour in the province. We represent over 35,000 workers from every sector of the economy and from every community in the province.
For more information, please contact
Daniel Legere, President NBFL
(506) 381-8969 (cell)