Recently, I was up at the crack of dawn to help support PSAC workers on strike in Kingston. 75 workers, all veterans, were walking the line. The members are simply asking for 5 paid sick days. Right now they have none. When these veterans can’t work because they are sick, they make nothing.
Marching on a strike line in the heat and sun for hours is a lot of work. Strikes are always an option of last resort, but there’s something really powerful about seeing everyone in action together. I am a working-class, everyday person and will always be a fighter for working-class, everyday people.
For years, I’ve worked for Labour Unions like PSAC and OPSEU helping to support workers in many different industries and types of work. I believe in collective action because I’ve seen it work. I tell workers that there is nothing more terrifying to an employer than united workers. They have the money and we have the labour, and without solidarity, we are unbalanced. Labour Unions are about bringing balance to work so that you as a worker are never taken advantage of by an employer. Worker solidarity is essential to a just society.
It’s hard to be a worker in Ontario right now. Precarious work is pervasive. Trudeau’s Liberal government has told us we need to just get used to it. It doesn’t matter if you’re a server, a teacher, a sheet-metal worker, an electrician, administrative assistant, or a public servant – you are a worker – and you deserve to have your right to collective action respected.
But here in Ontario, it’s particularly bad because of the Ford Conservatives. And you can be sure Andrew Scheer will be just as destructive to worker rights. The Green Party has no plan for workers. And Trudeau’s government with Bill Morneau at the purse strings have let workers struggle for 3 years with the Phoenix Pay Disaster but managed to find $12 million to give to billionaire Galen Weston and Loblaws.
As contracts are coming up for negotiations, employers are being more brazen in their demands. They are putting heavy concessions on the table, in some cases trying to eliminate or drastically reduce access to hard-fought gains like paid-sick time, designated holidays, vacation time, parental leave, short-term illness, emergency leave, and so much more.
And then there are wages. Earlier this year, every person in Ontario making minimum wage should have gotten a raise to $15. But we have all lost out because the same old Conservatives have never been the friend of working-class people.
We must do better.
Here’s what NDP worker solidarity looks like:
- Creating 300,000 new green economy jobs in our Power to Change commitments as we transform our economy and environment, together.
- Mandating that contract and part-time workers be given the same rights and privileges as those working full-time work.
- Pushing for legislation that ensures temporary and contract workers doing equivalent work to full-time permanent staff are compensated equally. Employers can’t be allowed to pay some workers less and offer no benefits just to save some money.
- Bringing back Card Check Certification – when you sign a card, that should be enough to join a union. Period. We need to reduce barriers to unionization and your choice to join a union.
- Respecting your Charter Rights and Freedoms to conduct labour solidarity, collective bargaining, work actions, and strikes by standing up against back-to-work legislation and always fighting against right-to-work legislation.
- Standing up for Canadian workers in trade negotiations, maintaining our supply management sovereignty, and fighting against arbitrary and unfair tariffs.
- Replacing the disastrous, failed Phoenix pay-system and working to ensure that affected workers are adequately compensated for the incredible disruption to their lives while in public service.
- Introducing a $15 federal minimum wage and growing that to a living wage.