Greater Sudbury celebrates labour movement

On Labour Day on Monday, several unions and the Sudbury and District Labour Council gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of working people and unions, with a focus on making it through the COVID-19 pandemic. (Alana Everson/CTV News)

On Labour Day on Monday, several unions and the Sudbury and District Labour Council gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of working people and unions, with a focus on making it through the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The frontline workers and essential workers have got us through the pandemic," said Jessica Montgomery, president of the Sudbury & District Labour Council.

"They have housed us, they have cared for us, they fed us, they provided transportation to bring in food and supplies into our community and we have to celebrate them."

A physically distanced car parade with many honks of support kicked off the event.

"I would like to thank all of the workers and the labour leaders, the employers in our entire experience through COVID-19," said Major Brian Bigger. "They have really focused on having safe workplaces and they really are the key to recovery."

The Sudbury and District Labour Council called on the federal government for a strong pandemic recovery plan that will replace lost jobs with better ones, and benefits like paid sick leave.

Last year there was no social gathering for Labour Day in Sudbury because of the pandemic.

The theme of this year's event was 'workers are the recovery.'

"The days of precarious work and underpaid workers, they have to be behind us," said Sudbury NDP MPP Jamie West.

"We really have to grow our economy through good-paying jobs fair paying jobs for workers with a future."

United Steelworkers Local 6500, the union that represented 2,500 striking Vale workers in a 65-day strike earlier this year, was on hand to celebrate what it calls the unity of the community and solidarity of its membership during the dispute. Maintaining post-retirement health benefits for new hires was the main issue.

"The main message today is that Labour Day is an important day to celebrate all the years of unionism that have gone on and brought us to where we are today," said Nick Larochelle, president of United Steelworkers 6500.

"Without that history, we wouldn't be able to compete with global companies."

In the lead-up to the federal election, labour council is calling on all workers -- unionized or not -- to hold political leaders accountable for a strong pandemic recovery plan.