Comment 32758

By rusty (registered) - website | Posted August 12, 2009 at 10:37:28

Grassroots asks, "was it in the peoples/workers best interests when the provincial government's(Harris) intent was to let employers and employees sort out issues pertaining to health and safety?"

Like I said, the government should regulate fair working conditions. That is their role, to regulate. When you put this too far in the hands of the employer the temptation is obviously to abuse the workers. When you create these quasi-regulatory intermediaries (aka unions) you get the disfunctional organizations we have today.

"So for those workers that not covered under collective bargaining, can and are intimidated to believe that they will lose their employment if they file a complaint under the act. And even if a worker files a complaint under both sections 43 and 50 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, there is nothing under Employment Standards to protect the worker from being dismissed at a later date, as the company would deem them to be a instigator, troublemaker."

Clearly the law doesn't work today. So we need to fix it. Why then, are the union bodies and their political 'wing' not fighting for these important changes? Why do we have strikes about sick time and ½ % pay increases? I'm all for an effective workers movement but today, unions aren't it. Instead of helping to level the playing field for everyone they encourage further disparity between union and non-union staff benefits and create a sense of entitlement among their members which leads to petty incidents and work stoppages.

I've chatted with a few more folks since I wrote this piece. Some things I've learned:

  • Many strikers in TO did not appear to be that 'into' the strike. As the stoppage dragged on stories of strikers getting impatient and talking of going back to work became more common place. It was as if this was a battle their union encouraged them to take on rather than one driven by them. It seems that union workers fear any concession that is asked of them, no matter how reasonable, no matter how small. This climate of entitlement and fear is perpetuated by their union reps.
  • My neighbour made the point to me that if there were no unions in the city depts all the workers would be p/t and temp with no benefits. She makes a good point. What this doesn't explain however is why the unions have to go to bat over stupid little things like sick banks.
  • A friend of mine suggested that 'employers get the unions they deserve'. His point being that unreasonable employers will get fiesty unions, fair employers will get fair unions. I don't know if this is true but from own experience I think it is a bit of a generalization. My sister-in-law works for a ½ and ½ gov agency (she is non-union) and she feels fairly treated. What isn't fair for her is how her union colleagues get preferential treatment.

Although I am open minded (as much as I can be given my deeply ingrained Thatcherite upbringing… :) ) I still feel that unions are not effectively carrying out their role today. I agree there needs to be better legistlation, and representation, of workers rights, but unions are not doing a good job in facilitating this.

Thanks for the comments

Ben

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