June 11 is Davis Day

June 7, 2023

June 11th is an important day in our province. It’s Davis Day, named after William Davis, a miner in Sydney, Nova Scotia, who was unjustly shot and killed by company police. Davis Day is a day to remember our mining history and the miners’ struggles and sacrifices to secure the rights and privileges we enjoy today.

William Davis was a man who stood up for what he believed in, and he paid the ultimate price for his principles. He was a leader, a fighter, and a symbol of hope for thousands of people across the country who were fighting for fair treatment and equal rights. Davis worked last at the No. 12 Colliery in New Waterford and was born on June 3, 1887, and was shot on June 11, 1925.

The story of William Davis is just one example of the struggles that workers have undergone throughout history. Davis and the other miners’ saw the union contract expire in January, and the company refused to deal with the union. In March, the company cut off credit at the company stores. A strike ensued, and 12,000 miners were on the picket lines. Despite the economic hardship, which saw families come to the brink of starvation by June, the miners’ resolve was strong. On June 11, the company police fired over 300 shots and injured many. One police officer shot deliberately at Davis, killing him. The company police force then retreated as the miners swarmed the facility.

Let’s remember that workers have fought valiantly for their rights, often risking their lives to achieve basic rights such as the right to organize, fair wages and hours, and representation. While in Canada, workers are not shot or fear for their lives, workers in many Countries do. Remember that these rights did not come easily; they were hard-won through years of struggle, sacrifice, and perseverance. Many brave men and women gave their all to create a better future for themselves and future generations. It’s important to remember their struggles, their courage, and their sacrifices so that we can continue to build on their legacy.

One of the greatest achievements of the labour movement is the creation of unions. Unions protect workers against exploitation from employers and ensure that workers are treated fairly and justly. Unions give workers a collective voice, a means to negotiate with employers for better working conditions, benefits, and wages. The fight for unions was not an easy one. Workers faced opposition from employers and government officials who saw unions threatening their power and authority. We still see that today even though workers persist with organizing strikes, demonstrations, and protests until their voices are finally heard. The establishment of unions was a turning point for the labour movement, and it paved the way for many of the rights and protections we enjoy today. But even with the creation of unions, workers face hardship and injustice. Women, people of colour, and immigrants face additional challenges in the workplace, often denied equal pay, promotions, and opportunities for advancement. Workers must fight for basic rights, such as safe working conditions, overtime pay, and sick leave.

Many workers are still underpaid and overworked, lacking basic rights such as access to healthcare and retirement benefits. Unions play a critical role in advocating for workers’ rights, and we need to support them in their efforts to create a fairer and more just society.

 So, to honour Davis and many others who stood the gaff, let us honour William Davis and all those who have fought and died for the labour movement. Their struggles have not been in vain; they have paved the way for a brighter future for all workers. Let us also renew our commitment to continue the fight for justice and equality in the workplace. Let us stand with workers still fighting for their rights and work together to create a world where every worker is treated with dignity and respect. Let us never forget the sacrifices of those who have gone before us. Let us honour their memory by fighting for workers’ rights everywhere. Let us stand together as a community and demand a better future for ourselves, our children, and future generations. Remember that Together we are stronger.  —

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