Posted by Ellen Russell and Mathieu Dufour · September 07, 2015 8:30 AM
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.
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.