By Henry McRandall
The Gross Economic Pie may no longer be growing in real terms but the political lackeys of the socioeconomic elite across North America are determined that the rich shall not stop getting richer – even if it means everyone else must become a lot poorer.
Stephen Harper’s Conservative federal government in Canada has just passed draconian legislation forcing locked-out postal workers back on the job.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Tories forced them to accept a lower pay scale even than Canada Post was offering.
The government’s rationale is that the 1.75 percent annual pay increase is in line with what some civil service unions have negotiated.
(Canada Post had offered 1.9 percent) with the government.
The first problem with that is that both those percentage increases would be far below Canada’s current rate of inflation, which is 3.7 percent..
The second problem is that such an increase will likely be far below the pay raises granted to civil servants already making more than $100,000 a year and far, far below the increases granted to the army of private “consultants” – primarily incompetent Conservative Party hacks – contracted each year to do work that could be better and less expensively done by the civil servants.
While smashing the hard-won collective-bargaining rights of public-sector workers may sound good to some private-sector workers who have been conned into believing that pulling public-sector workers down a peg or two will make all working-class wages a little more equal, the reality is that it will not.
Any time any group of workers suffers a setback in wages, benefits or working conditions, it puts downward pressure on the wages, benefits and working conditions of all other workers.
Yes, the civil servants might be brought down a peg or two but the petty jealousies that prompt non-unionized private-sector workers to cheer instead of jeer for their fellow workers will inevitably come back to haunt them as their private-sector employers demand their own pound of flesh.
It serves the interests of the socioeconomic elite to promote such petty jealousies among different groups of workers. It keeps the resentments and the anger of the exploited directed at their fellow victims instead of at the predators who are making them all easy prey.
Instead of envying unionized public-sector workers and rejoicing at their setbacks, private-sector workers – both unionized and non-unionized – should organize themselves and force the private-sector elite to treat all workers more fairly.
And Canada is not the only North American realm where extreme right-wing governments are trying to screw over the working class for the benefit of the millionaires and billionaires.
A whole rafter of Republican Tea Party state governors across Amerikkka are also trying to promote working-class friction and screw over their own public-sector workers – all to ensure that even as the whole economic pie continues to shrink in real terms, that those at the top can continue to get richer – no matter how poor everyone else has to become to make it possible.
Tightening the screws on the working class
By Henry McRandall