The Nova Scotia Federation of Labour recognizes International Workers’ Day today, May 1, in solidarity with millions of workers around the world. We recognize the historic struggles of workers who have gone before us and their hard-fought gains we benefit from today.
This year, International Workers’ Day falls during the gravest public health emergency in our province.
“Healthcare workers on the front line of the COVID-19 response face a perilous situation. They are overstretched because our hospitals are understaffed and underfunded,” says Danny Cavanagh, President of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour.
“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.
“This sobering situation is worrying for all front-line workers and their families,” says Cavanagh.
Cavanagh points out that COVID-19 is redefining what is considered an essential worker. 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.
“Pay essential workers decently and fairly. Because they are lifting us all up now and always have. They are risking everything so everyone else can be safe.
“We must use our solidarity and action to push government harder to breaking the cycle of neglect of healthcare. We will intensify our efforts to uphold workers’ rights, push to ensure a decent living wage. On International Workers’ Day this year, lets renew our commitment to push for positive change that will benefit all workers, says Cavanagh.