Some Canadian Content

So, I suppose I should talk about Canada from time to time. There are actually some very serious labour disputes going on in Canada. There is a health care strike in British Columbia and as of this morning, the government had imposed back-to-work legislation on the workers, with a very generous settlement: a 15% wage rollback, plus no cap on external contracting (ie., privatization and layoffs, ie., total job insecurity). If the workers are going to stay on strike, it will be ‘illegal’, a line Canadian unions have been loath to cross.

The same thing happened in Newfoundland recently, which is going through its own self-imposed ‘structural adjustment’ by its millionaire premier (one of the wealthiest men in Canada). There, too, labour responded by striking. There, too, the strike was declared ‘illegal’.

It is a tactic that is instantly imposed by every legislature in the country when they want to break a union or attack the public sector generally: impose a nasty agreement, wait for the strike, then declare it ‘illegal’ and impose a settlement. They are forcing unions to break the law — but until the unions are ready to fight back as hard as the state and elites are, the workers will continue to lose the gains that were won by previous generations through hard struggle.

Justin Podur

Author: Justin Podur

Author of Siegebreakers. Ecology. Environmental Science. Political Science. Anti-imperialism. Political fiction. Teach at York U's FES. Author. Writer at ZNet, TeleSUR, AlterNet, Ricochet, and the Independent Media Institute.