Crowds to celebrate union achievements and prepare for coming battles
More than 3,000 supporters of the labour movement will converge on Fort Edmonton Park tomorrow (Saturday, June 16) to celebrate 100 years of union victories in Alberta.
"Much of what makes this province a great place to work, to live and to raise our families has been brought to us by union members," says Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL), which represents 145,000 workers and is celebrating its centennial this year.
"Working conditions were appalling in Alberta 100 years ago. They only improved when workers formed unions and fought to make things better. Unions have led the fight for fair wages, safe workplaces and an end to discrimination on the basis of race, creed, gender and orientation," he says.
However, the work of unions is not finished, with workers' rights under attack across the country. "The struggle continues as we see moves to drive down wages under the federal government's Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program, to restrict Employment Insurance (EI) payments to laid-off workers and to keep people in the workplace until the age of 67 under proposed changes to Old Age Security (OAS) rules," he said.
Events at the park tomorrow, being dubbed the Party of the Century, include:
• 11:30 a.m.: Parade led by bagpiper;
• 12:30 p.m.: Celebration opens. AFL president Gil McGowan will speak to the crowd about 100 years of union struggles and victories, the challenges that lie ahead for the labour movement – and why unions are still a vital force in defending working families from attack;
• 1:30 p.m.: Concert Juno-nominated folksinger Maria Dunn; and
• 2:30-4:30 p.m.: AFL Centennial Convention.
• 4:30-11:30 p.m.: Continuous live entertainment
Festivities continue throughout the day, with lots of activities for families to enjoy, including kids' games, face-painting, pony races, sack races and crafts. A stellar lineup of musical performances is scheduled during the day, with concerts from artists including Souljah Fyah, Audio/Rocketry, the Rault Brothers Band, Terry Morrison and Notres Dames des Bananes.
For more information:
• Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour (780) 218-9888