It’s leading up to Halloween in Ottawa and the kids are already out on the streets in some pretty impressive costumes. Older kids have painted their faces black or ash grey with dripping faux blood and are parading about the town. While I feel irritated that Halloween was imported to NZ as another commercial opportunity to cash in on, I am amused that an ancient pre-Christian rite has become mainstream.
I hope while people are enjoying the day off (at least those who get a day off) will remember that Labour Day is about Samuel Parnell’s struggle for an eight-hour working day.
Irony is there’s no longer any eight hour day regulation in NZ anymore (apart from an old reference in the Minimum Wage Age that a truck could be driven through.
In fact there is almost no NZ regulation around working hours, apart from the meals and rest breaks legislation, which National is in the process of decimating and paid leave laws, which are also under attack.
Canada celebrates Labo(u)r Day in September. It goes back to 1872, when the Toronto Trades Assembly organised Canada’s first significant demonstration for worker’s rights to demand the release of the 24 leaders of the Toronto Typographical Union who were imprisoned for striking to campaign for a nine-hour working day.
Difference is that like most other developed countries, Canada still has working time regulation including an 8 hour day, with provisions for flexibility and extended hours provided overtime is paid. Mealbreaks apply after five hours and there are prescribed periods of rest between shifts. Workers must receive at least 24 consecutive hours off work in each work week, or at least 48 consecutive hours off work in every period of two consecutive work weeks.
So I’m happy to give Halloween a miss (if I can hide) and celebrate the day that reminds us that workers’ rights issues are still out there and needing attention.