Date Posted: October 26, 2011
Print Edition: October 19, 2011
The union representing Air Canada workers has reportedly canceled a strike which was planned for Thursday after the government stepped in, effectively making the right for the workers to strike illegal. Since this government intervention into union matters, many Canadian workers have been harshly critical of the Harper government’s actions, condemning them as being undemocratic, and a violating worker’s rights.
Strikes are typically a way of allowing workers to point out problems with management and order in the workplace. They are a means of communication, intended to send a message that things aren’t going so hot and change needs to happen right away. So one might want to ask – why is the government of Canada halting that process? The Harper government stood by its previous statements that were employed to end the Canada Post strike earlier this year, saying that this is for the country’s own good, and that the actions taken by the Government of Canada are being taken to protect the “fragile economic recovery.”
But what’s the real reason, Stephie-boy? Some might (and do) contend that you’re just trying to send the message across that you don’t like these big-bad red proletariat union movements getting in the way. Harper has a long-running reputation for not exactly being a fan of these labour movements, which stand in the way, and are an inconvenience to his Conservative party agenda, and he has a long history of being more than willing to push them around, and bully them a little. Of course, Stephen Harper and his Tories are not the first government to have come to power that has not liked worker labor movements. History shows us there has been many.
There has been a harsh public outcry against the government intervention in favour of private business. Toronto Star national affairs columnist Thomas Walkom said this about the matter, “it’s a curiously lopsided kind of intervention. If, as he insists, Harper wanted to protect the economic recovery, he wouldn’t waste his time on Air Canada. Instead he’d use his government’s muscle to deal with far more pressing problems that threaten Canadian jobs.”
Yes, these strikes are inconveniences, but when the government disallows the workers of the nation to express their dissatisfaction with the way things are being run and managed, is that not a step in the wrong direction – perhaps even away from democracy?
Of course, I get it. It’s no fun when you can’t go on your holiday to Hawaii because the airline is not running, and it’s no fun when you can’t get your mail delivered to your house because the Post is on strike, but really – this is the stuff negotiations is all about. In order to repair this fragile economy there must be a compromise between what the workers want, and what the other party’s concerned want. Otherwise, this probably isn’t the last strike we’ll be seeing in the years to come.