Younger workers deemed most at risk
Unions across Newfoundland and Labrador marked Labour Day on Monday with celebrations, but also a sombre warning that the movement needs to turn its focus on its youngest members.
"For the first time we're looking at the possibility of the next generation of workers probably not doing as well as their parents have done," said Lana Payne, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour.
"This is an astounding thing to be happening in a society where we have so much wealth."
Payne said unemployment, longer working careers and delayed retirements are posing problems for younger workers.
She said it's also a struggle for organized labour to maintain benefits that have been gained over the years.
The federation is currently pushing for a higher minimum wage, which is now under governmental review, and has been fighting for better working conditions, especially for workers who handle their duties alone.
"We've been doing some work with government officials and the inspection branch of occupational health and safety to try and protect, in particular, lone workers and their safety," she said.
Meanwhile, labour activists say they hope the messages from Labour Day rallies this year will resonate with those who do not belong to unions.
"There is a need for unions and organized labour in Newfoundland," Kathy Oake, president of the Central District Labour Council, told CBC News Monday.
"This is not just for organized employees — it's for everyone … it's for family and community, and that's the heart of what we do."
In Grand Falls-Windsor, the council staged the 92nd edition of the annual Labour Day parade.