On behalf of the New Brunswick Federation of Labour, I want to wish all New Brunswickers Happy Labour Day. I also want to take this opportunity to offer my sincere thanks to all New Brunswick workers who devote their time, energy and talents to make our province a better place.
This year has been a busy one for the New Brunswick Federation of Labour (NBFL). In April, the NBFL Women’s committee hosted its first annual Women in Leadership Gala. During the ceremony Enid Egers was recognized with an award for her continued leadership role in the labour movement. The gala was well attended by 80 participants and a huge success. Look for more information in 2012 for the second annual Women in Leadership Gala.
This year also saw the NBFL organize a Health, Safety, and Compensation Conference. Over 130 delegates participated in workshops provided by labour’s leading experts in workplace health and safety from across Canada.
2011 also saw the NBFL host its 50th Convention. The Convention’s theme was Honour the Past, Build the Future. Over 260 delegates debated more than 80 resolutions on topics as varied as first contract arbitration, minimum wage, retirement security and pension protection, pay equity legislation for the private sector and a publicly funded child care system.
Most recently, the NBFL organized its 11th annual Blair Doucet Youth Summer Camp at the Moncton campus of Université de Moncton. The camp ran from August 1st-5th. This year 24 campers came together from across the province, 8 returning and 16 new campers. In the mornings, campers learned about the history of the labour movement, their rights as workers and labour’s role in the broader society. In the afternoons and evenings, they discovered activities and attractions in the Greater Moncton area. The camp is made possible by volunteers who donate their time as camp counselors.
Thanks to everyone who showed their solidarity this year by coming out on the picket lines and rallies organized in support of locked-out postal workers, striking Air Canada employees and locked-out Moosehead brewery workers.
Our struggle is not over. A lot of work remains to improve and protect the rights of New Brunswick workers and their families. The New Brunswick Federation of Labour will continue to work to improve minimum wage standards for our province’s most vulnerable workers. This work is all the more important now that the provincial government has delayed increasing minimum wage rates to the Altantic average of $10.00 per hour. The government tells us that the increase will now happen on April 1st rather than the scheduled September 1st. In the meantime, the government will study the feasibility of implementing a two-tier minimum wage. As a province, we should be striving to do better than other provinces when it comes to protecting vulnerable workers.
The New Brunswick Federation of Labour will continue to work towards a society that includes a fairer system of taxation to reduce the growing gap between the rich and poor. We will also continue our work to get an independent advisory council on the status of women reinstated in the province.
I will need your help over the upcoming year to improve several laws and policies; such as protecting our right to organize collectively by including the right to first contract arbitration in labour legislation. The core curriculum in our schools should include classes on workplace health and safety to make sure that our youngest workers are protected. The NBFL also needs your help to mobilize against the right-wing agenda influencing governments. Government job cuts are currently under way and will likely continue.
Finally, I hope to see NBFL affiliated members at the Political Education Conference scheduled for November 17th and 18th at Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Moncton. The conference theme is: “Labour’s Political Engagement.”