The newly elected Progressive Conservative government in Manitoba has moved quickly to cement its anti-worker bona fides with the radical right-wing by making it more difficult for non-union workers to join a union, and by opening up bidding on large scale public construction projects to non-union companies. Changes in these areas were announced in the Pallister government’s Speech from the Throne on May 16.
Under the current system in Manitoba, a union can be automatically certified by the Labour Board if 65% of the workers in a proposed bargaining unit indicate their support by signing membership cards. As in other jurisdictions with a “card check” system, signed membership cards are subject to independent scrutiny.Read more
The current federal election is being fought against a backdrop of deepening inequality and the social problems that accompany it. Promises to “make things better” will no doubt be uttered throughout the campaign.
As we mark another labour day, it is important to remain discerning of the policies on offer.Read more
Today, Bill C-377 passed Third Reading in the Senate after the Conservative government shut down debate. If there was any doubt this anti-labour “Private Member’s Bill” didn't have the full backing of the Harper government that has been put the rest.Read more
Recent tensions in relationships between provincial governments and teachers, especially in British Columbia and Ontario, deserve to be understood in a wider context. Good labour relations in education and positive working relationships between provincial governments and teacher unions are a critical ingredient in the relative success of our public education system.
Canada's education system is generally recognized to deliver good results compared to most other countries.Read more
Over the past 20 years, income inequality has been growing faster in Canada than in other similar countries. During this period about one third of all income growth has gone to the top 1%, leaving precious little to be shared among the remaining 99%. We know the inequality problem all too well, but what is the answer to addressing it?
There seem to be three main pillars that provide effective solutions: progressive taxation, a robust safety net, and ensuring fairness in the workplace. This third pillar includes raising the minimum wage in a transparent and predictable manner, improving associated employment standards legislation, and generally making sure labour laws have kept pace with what’s happening in workplaces across the country.Read more
The Supreme Court of Canada recently released its highly anticipated decision in Saskatchewan Federation of Labour v Saskatchewan. In bold and sweeping Reasons for Judgment on behalf of a 5-2 majority, Justice Rosalie Abella overturned the Court’s previous jurisprudence and recognized a constitutionally protected right to strike under section 2(d) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Section 2(d) of the Charter guarantees the freedom of association.Read more
Labour day is an appropriate time to reflect on the accomplishments of the labour movement -- and the challenges that lie ahead.
There is increased recognition that strong unions were a key pillar of the period of shared prosperity, which lasted for some 30 years from the 1950s through the 1970s. Unions negotiated wage and benefit increases in line with growing productivity, and these gains gradually spread to non-union workplaces.
Unions made Canada a much more equal society by raising the wages of formerly low-paid workers; by narrowing pay differences, including between women and men; and by successfully advocating for the expansion of social programs and public services.Read more
Matthew Behrens, Editor (for the Canadian Foundation for Labour Rights). Unions Matter: Advancing Democracy, Economic Equality and Social Justice. Toronto. Between the Lines. 2014.
This excellent book on why unions and a strong labour movement are essential building blocks of a sound economy and of a just and democratic society deserves to be widely circulated. It is accessible to individual labour activists who wish to deepen their understanding of the role of unions – both inside and outside the workplace – and should be widely adopted for use in post-secondary labour studies courses and union educational programs.Read more
On September 16th, Preston Manning published an article on the recent defeat of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) at the hands of the conservative Liberal-National coalition in the Globe and Mail. Left-wing governments destroy healthy economies, he told us, they 'binge' on stimulus spending, are soft on unions, govern badly and can’t manage environmental policy.
Open for business, closed for workers: employment standards, the enforcement deficit, and vulnerable workers in Canada
Daniel Tucker-Simmons recently completed his Raven, Cameron, Ballantyne & Yazbeck Human Rights/Social Justice Internship at the Broadbent Institute. Tucker-Simmons was compensated for his work.
Legislated employment standards are a cornerstone of a strong, healthy society, as well as a robust, thriving economy. They ensure that everyone who works earns a minimum wage for their labour, and that nobody is subjected to inhumane working conditions or unduly harsh treatment at the hands of their employer. It is because of employment standards that workers in Canada have the right to rest periods during and between shifts, to maximum work hours each day and week, to extra pay for working on public holidays, and to a couple of weeks of paid vacation every year. In short, employment standards are there to shield workers – especially non-union workers – against the natural tendency of the labour market to gravitate towards overwork and underpay.Read more