Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Liberal Take on Air Canada and Canada Post

"The right to bargain collectively with an employer enhances the human dignity, liberty and autonomy of workers by giving them the opportunity to influence the establishment of workplace rules and thereby gain some control over a major aspect of their lives, namely their work... Collective bargaining is not simply an instrument for pursuing external ends…rather [it] is intrinsically valuable as an experience in self-government... Collective bargaining permits workers to achieve a form of workplace democracy and to ensure the rule of law in the workplace. Workers gain a voice to influence the establishment of rules that control a major aspect of their lives."
Facilities Subsector Bargaining Association v. British Columbia
Supreme Court of Canada, 2007 

The Harper government is moving to force striking Air Canada workers back to work with justifications as plausible as the Reichstag Fire and now they've got the same in store for striking Canada Post employees.

Canada once honoured its commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 23 of which acknowledges the right to organize trade unions as a fundamental human right. 

Apparently Harper's thuggish corporatism now trumps even universal, fundamental human rights.  Harper and the greasy minds that follow him will, of course, argue that they're not impeding the right to organize trade unions.  No, indeed, all they're doing is cutting the legs off those unions once they seek to invoke collective bargaining.



Anonymous said...

If I had a magic wand, I would contact every single union in Canada, and have a one-day work stoppage. Then, with the next time any anti-union talk, there would be a 2 day work stoppage. And I would start it right now. Not wait till things get worse, or "Oh, we'll just let them screw these two unions." RFN. Invite the professional assoications to join in. I guess the CAW and CUPE would be a good place to start.

The Mound of Sound said...

I shock myself just a bit to say I tend to agree. Then again I spent my entire working life in some union or guild or professional society. Even lawyers, doctors and architects have collective representation and bargain with government.

Unionism is fundamental to a healthy and robust middle class. It is no accident that those who advocate shifting the nation to the right are inherently anti-labour. What an ideological coup it would be for Harper if he could get the public, through indifference or complacency, to accept the same posture.

With a country under one-man rule and an opposition either licking its wounds or absorbed in scheming, holding the line against a guy like Harper, defending Canada's middle class against the same ravages inflicted in America, may well demand general strikes. That causes me serious apprehension but, for the first time, I can see that sort of thing may be required.

Anonymous said...

Worse that this, where is the NDP party, the party of unions? Even their bloggers are silent. Those that were singing to the rafters loud and long about flaws of the liberals after the last election are saying almost nothing. Look at ProgBlogs over the last 2 days. Barely a ripple.

I don't think the opposition will do sweet tweet. They are in the process of planning their move to the middle and taking over the dotted line, just like the NDP in Manitoba. They are now, in the position of official opposition, just as hamstrung as the liberals were in the last government, terrified to actually STAND for something concrete in case it might jeopardize their chances of forming the next government. It isn't in any party's best interest to publicly stand up for the unions. They have to do it themselves.

Beijing York said...

You raise some good points, Anonymous. Both Layton and Rae spoke against the back to work legislation but I would say that it was as passionate as asking the government when they plan on tabling a report on the Treasury Board's "look and feel" communications policy for government websites.

And our public broadcaster has been a disappointment as well. They have been subtly painting defined benefit pension plans as a civil service perk, going on and on about how the private sector doesn't have them. The implication is that taxpayers are funding a far too rich program and/or that public employees should be treated the same as private sector employees (only 24% have employer sponsored pension plans and of those only 17% are defined benefits).

Private sector workers has been screwed by employers backing away from pension support. They've been screwed by anti-union attitudes of employers who make organizing near impossible. The right always wants to level the playing field by lowering the bar rather than raising it.

But overall, the silence from so called progressive people, if not scorn expressed for CUPW and CAW on some progressive forums, is depressing.