Thursday, July 30, 2009

The TO strike and attitudes towards unions

One of the most interesting things I found about the Toronto strike was the reaction of folks to the idea of banking sick days. Many ordinary Canadians resented the fact that TO city employees could bank their sick days. This of course was born of jealousy but it is also indicative of the general attitude towards unions amongst the working people of the English speaking world. We saw the same thing during the lead up to the bail-out of the big three auto companies. The unions were largely and wrongly blamed for their troubles.

The reason of course is many people believe the unions are out of control. They are too powerful.

I find this attitude misplaced and disturbing. The business class of the industrialized world, through their greed and incompetence, just finished triggering a crisis in confidence in the international financial system that was only prevented from collapsing by governments, from around the world, pumping trillions of dollars into it. This resulted in the worst recession since the Great Depression, which has destroyed millions of jobs worldwide (and counting) and is suppressing wages and is reducing the job security for those still working.

Have we seen the working masses rise up and demand the heads of these people? Have we even seen signs of a burning resentment towards these people for the inestimable damage they have done to the economy and the interests of the average worker? Of course not. However, when it is revealed that a group of workers are striking to maintain their right to bank their sick days a bitter resentment comes bubbling up very quickly.

So why would ordinary workers side with the business class over people of their own class?

They say that the price of freedom is vigilance. Well, the same can be said of the hard won workers rights we now enjoy and take for granted.

Of course, in order to be vigilant you do need information on what is going on. The main source of information for most people is the media which we all know is controlled by the same folks who caused this recession. However, there are plenty of other sources of information out there that is not controlled by the media elite and all it takes is a little effort to find it. Sadly that effort is not being made.

So, the result is ordinary workers are not just seeing that the labour rights they have come to enjoy are slowly being eroded away they are actually allowing themselves to be recruited by those who would erode those rights to assist them in working towards that goal. They have actually allowed themselves to be used to work against their own interests.

That is both interesting and disturbing.

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