By Henry McRandall
The right-wing federal government of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper lashed out again today at the rights of unionized Canadian workers to withdraw their services.
It was the fourth time this year the anti-labout Tory zealots have lashed out at workers already disadvantaged in a slatned industrial bargaining process.
Labour Minister Lisa Raitt was forthright in stating her intention to prevent a legal strike but also alarmingly brutal in her intent.
Close to seven thousand Air Canada flight attendants were scheduled to hit the pavement at midnight tonight.
But the sorry Tory cavalry rode to management’s rescue, referring the matter to the Canadian Industrial Relations Board mere hours ahead of the walkout.
What that meant was that any strike must be delayed at least until the CIRB “determines” whether the strike would impose an issue of “health and safety” anywhere in the country.
Technically, it was just a delaying tactic. The Conservatives know the NDP will likely filibuster any attempt to legislate the flight attendants back to work when Parliament resumes sitting next week.
So the Tories pre-empted the Official Opposition by resorting to an arcane and rarely used law that immediately circumvents any possibility of a legal strike.
This brazen political interference in the collective bargaining process is a gross injustice to Canadian workers as it clearly serves to tilt the playing field even further in favour of management.
And these particular 6,800 workers desperately need every bargaining chip they can find.
The starting salary for Air Canada flight attendants is only $18,000 a year or less than $350 a week, quite a bit below the poverty level. This particular wage level came about after the flight attendants were earlier forced to take a 15 percent pay cut when the airline was going through hard times.
Now that those hard times are over, the workers deserve some reparation for the sacrifices they have made.
But instead they are fearful. Air Canada wants to launch a subsidiary discount airline that will likely force wages across the industry down even further, even while profits continue to soar.
Alas, you can count on Canada’s Conservatives – and its Liberals – to always and forever champion the top one percent – the millionaires, mega-millionaires, billionaires and mega-billionaires – who have already looted or destroyed almost everything worth looting or destroying – rather than the bottom 99 percent who make up the beleaguered masses – the poor, the working class and the middle class.
When Occupy Canada finally occurs, the Conservatives and Liberals will have one mighty price to pay for their slavish adherence to the cruel, corrupt and criminal corporate capitalist agenda.
Ottawa strikes out at workers’ union rights
By Henry McRandall