Next Saturday, October 1, workers will gather at Queen’s Park for the Rally for Decent Work. Unions have coordinated buses from all over the province and the rally is likely to attract a good crowd. The timing of this rally is important: the province has undertaken the Changing Workplaces Review, a process to modernize labour laws and hopefully make changes for its precarious workforce. But the voice of business is strong in Ontario, and the rally aims to be the first show of force that workers are united and will be holding the government to account. In addition to fair labour laws, demands made from workers during this process have included a \$15 minimum wage, paid sick days, easier rules to join unions, and other items that would increase fairness at work.
One aspect of the upcoming rally worth noting: don’t expect a regular union rally where labour leaders take centre stage. The speakers who will be holding the mic next Saturday are all impacted directly by the precarious nature of the workforce in Ontario. They will come from diverse sectors and will share their experiences of trying to make ends meet by working contract, temporary, and freelance jobs.
This provides an opportunity for labour and left activists: the movement for decent work needs to grow beyond the precarious labour community. A hopeful, exciting, and unconventional rally can be a chance to inspire those who are supportive but have difficulty connecting to this struggle.
If we are to think of this Saturday’s rally as a festival and a show of unity, it is worth turning our minds to the people around us who might want to be part of it. What community groups are you a part of? Where do you spend your weekends? Which groups would get excited about making a banner and marching as a group? Who can you march with and how can you make them feel welcome?
Decent work affects everyone: the old and the young, parents and children, immigrants of first, second, or third generations, and more. This Saturday should be a vibrant, colourful coming together of all branches of the workers’ movement.