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LABOUR DAY: WHY IT’S STILL IMPORTANT

Greed is a problem for humanity. Employers have become rich off the backs of the working populace. Workers, on the other hand, have being forced into long working hours by bosses in unsafe working conditions and for little pay. Unions exist to equalize the imbalance of wealth. The Government of Canada has recognized that and proclaimed the first Monday in September to be a stat holiday for workers.

The world of bosses has changed, with some Corporations becoming the most oppressive group of employers this world has yet seen. Mass unemployment, human rights abuses, ignoring health and safety laws and moving companies to a different country for a cheaper workforce show blatant disregard for the working person.

Corporations have seen an unprecedented rise in power through globalization with more economic status than most of the world’s countries. In the US, in 1886, a court ruled that Corporations are, under the 14th amendment, a natural person with all rights and free voice of a true person. This gave them access to lobbying, controlling educational institutions, and to convince the public of their charitable nature through creating non-profit organisations. Many unions, churches and charitable organisations still fight for these same rights.

Since then, Corporations have convinced governments and political parties-in-waiting that cheap labour and globalization is the only way that the economy will survive, an idea created and supported by neoliberal think tanks. Corporations influence elections by providing money to political parties, which can be seen to take control of governments. In Canada, when listening to the corporations lobbyist efforts, Governments are giving the public less of a dedicated input on the services they are provided by promoting privatization, fighting back on a decent minimum wage, not ensuring affordable housing, and not signing our healthcare/pharmacare accords to keep it affordable. Trade agreements are being negotiated that cut job availability for Canadians, while bringing in a foreign working class who will work for much less, no given proper health and safety training, and often be sent home when no longer useful or have been whistle blowing on their employers.

Unions are more important than ever before. As the voice of the workers, we are a major player in the checks and balances of government decisions and legislative actions. We have the power to cull the work of the oppressive corporations by boycotting, unionizing workplaces and educating the public about the truth. Our voice must be heard not only in our local meetings but in the streets, in our meetings with government officials, on the boards we hold positions on and in public information pickets and gatherings.

Yes, we still need Labour Day to remember past struggles and spread the message of solidarity.

Happy Labour Day to all and the struggle continues.

Vikki Quocksister
President
Yukon Federation of Labour

canada

Canada Enters a New Political Era or Has It?

On October 19th, Canadians went to the polls with the largest numbers of voters for over twenty years, zeroing in on the goal  to make change with the hopes to get rid an oppressive style government. Throughout the campaign,  the three primary parties struggled for votes and the election promises crossed boundaries with former party lines becoming blurred. For many, the choice of whom to vote for had citizens struggling whether to vote with their heart or use their vote in a strategic bid to make a change.

In Yukon, Liberal Larry Bagnell,  defeated incumbent Conservative Ryan Leef as Yukon numbers showed the second highest voter turnout of all provinces and territories across the country. Having the MP previously,  Mr. Bagnell is well known by Yukoners.

The Yukon Federation of Labour, while welcoming MP Bagnell to his position as Yukon’s representative, took the opportunity to remind him of the Liberal Party campaign promises to unions that will repeat a number of harmful bills passed by the previous government. Bill C-377, which publically opens all financial statements to the CRA of all unions and impacts bargaining abilities is one of the most recent. Bill C-525, a bill that changes the way that unions can organise under the Canadian Labour Code and Bill C-4 which attacks federal workers human rights, healthcare rights and interferes with the collective bargaining process and deny arbitrations.  See the following story in the Huffington Post regarding Bill C-4.

Save Canada Post is also a mantra that many Canadians may have heard. Two years ago, the Crown Corporation, an arms length business whose sole stakeholder is the Federal government, submitted a five-point plan with the intent to end door-to-door delivery. The Liberal government has promised to reverse this plan and save home delivery.

Some of the other promises include creating better opportunities for young Canadians and making post-secondary education more affordable, fixing the EI system, signing a new health accord, fighting poverty, and enabling better jobs with skills training. More promises offered better compassionate care, working with federally regulated workers to create flexible work opportunities, an improved childcare framework, and others that affect workers.

With so many campaign promises, repealing and amending some of the damaged relationships with unions, the Liberal Government will have their hands full for the next 4 years. Will the new government be able to keep their word?

Canada has voted to give them another chance.  The Yukon Federation of Labour will be forefront in speaking with our new MP, as the voice for Yukon’s workers to remind the government of many of its campaign promises.

For now, though, we can breath and know that at least there is hope for change.

 

Vikki Quocksister