24 June 2011

Not In My Name

There are despicable acts being carried out against a group of workers in our country, and it is being done in all of our names.

Let's first take the employer, Canada Post. A Crown corporation, supposedly at arm's length from the government, but there are two ministers with responsibility for it, among other things, so it would be difficult to say there is no influence. This is an employer that has shown itself to be draconian in many ways in the past, even timing bathroom breaks. They fired the first shot in the current dispute by suspending the benefits of their employees before there was any strike action on the part of the employees. Who does this? Private employers don't do this. There is historical practice of respecting the expired collective agreement until a new one is reached that has been ignored here. In all of our names.

The union started a series of rotating one-day strikes in selected cities. Yes, that's disruptive to the business, but I have to say that as an end user, I still got mail, just not on the two days that my city was touched by those strikes. Since midnight on Tuesday, 14 June, the corporation decided to lock out its employees across the country. I have not received a single piece of mail since then. So who is depriving me of my mail delivery? To me, it looks like it's the company. In all of our names.

Faced with this 'intolerable' situation, the government decided to legislate an end to this dispute rather than working to ensure that the two sides would negotiate their own settlement. Worse still, they decided to further undermine the collective bargaining process by reversing elements that had already been offered by the company, namely wage rates. Now this is not the central issue of the dispute for the union — this is much more about the effects of new technology and work safety, as well as pensions — but where does the government get the idea that it is appropriate to reduce the employer's offer of wage increases? Not much encouragement for the employer to take the subsequent negotiations seriously, in fact an assurance to the employer that the government is ready to give them everything they want and more. In all of our names.

Today is the Fête nationale in Québec and some are decrying the fact that the debate is being prolonged through this important national holiday, especially when the outcome is assured by the majority conservative government. Well, I have two things to say about that. First, I can't think of a better way to defend the values of Québec than by standing up against attacks on workers and the collective bargaining process. Bravo to our new NDP MPs for doing this. Second, does the fact that about 25% of the population (roughly 40% of the roughly 60% who voted) voted for a particular party, with our flawed system giving them a majority of seats as a consequence, mean that the rest of us should shut up and take it for the next four years? Would the Tories' supporters agree to do the same after losing a next election? I don't think so. The opposition is standing up to show their opposition to something that is wrong.

And I am glad they are doing this in my name.

1 comment:

Aindriu said...

Testify, sister!