Canada is one of the most highly regarded labour relations system on a global scale. As we many scholars who study labour relations systems on an international basis look at the degree of democratic nature of a society based on the principles to join unions and the nature of the collective bargaining system.
Recently, the Harper government has determined that public confidence and business interests are more important than democratic principles to have the right to strike.
The government’s assault on the labour relations system has allowed employers to believe — particularly the transportation industry — why bother bargaining seriously when they know their friend, the prime minister, will order those greedy union members back to work. It is the role of any government to represent the best interests of all citizens including the sections of the society you might disagree with, like the labour movement.
We are becoming a society of them versus us — a society of winners and, yes, losers. A bankrupt philosophy of greed and fear! Yes, we voted for this kind of leadership.
As well, the labour movement has been much too quiet and tolerant of the federal government anti-union actions. Harper makes no bones about it — he represents the interest of capital, not that of the individual union worker.
Yet the labour movement seems to be tamed — not moving to protest or work stoppages like a dog with a tail between their tail between legs labour behaves like the castration has been complete and our democracy is weaker for it.
If Mr. Harper does not believe in the right to strike for workers the federal government has control over the labour relations. Then different labour relations systems should be designed such as mandatory interest arbitration.
The PM cannot pretend we are half pregnant on this issue — at least be honest enough to give another process so our expectations are no longer frustrated and we understand that the right to strike will not be an option for certain sections of our economy.
However you look at it, it’s the death of the collective bargaining process for some sectors and a sad day for Canada.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 30, 2012