Home > Educative...?, Opinions, Toronto > Working in Ontario…a slippery slope

Working in Ontario…a slippery slope

For those of you following the state of unions and labour in Ontario, it seems (to this blogger) that the rights and abilities of labourers are constantly being attacked by the government.  Legislation is used to force workers back to work and remove their abilities to strike.

The teachers union right now is embroiled in a contract dispute with the (former) McGuinty government.  Particulars aside, the government passed frightening Legislation in the form of Bill 115 which removed the ability of the union to bargain for their own contract, and pre-emptively barred strike action.  Any strike action by teachers will result in their being immediately forced back to work.

Isn’t it a democratic right to withhold work? Is it not akin to our right to protest peacefully?

Yes strikes affect people.  That is the point.  The whole idea of striking is to create an inconvenience and thus a statement about the conditions and working environment.  Such decisions are not made easily, and the willingness of workers to give up those days wages are a testament to the importance of the issue, especially in these tough economic times.

This Toronto Star article highlights some of the issues that underpin the Teacher’s plight.

Last year CP Rail workers went on strike.  Workers picketed for about a week (9 days if I recall correctly) before being legislated back to work.

Even more upsetting, the Air Canda pilots and baggage handlers found themselves in a position of being locked out of work and then legislated back to work.  This pre-emptive action is quite disturbing.  How can you possibly lock out a worker and then force them back to work?  In the same vein, how could you lock the door on an employee, not letting them enter the building, and then accuse them of being late?

The ability for workers to affect the economy with work action IS the point.  Protecting the almighty Economy with legislation forcing workers back to work is quite disturbing to this lay person.  Surely arguments can be made in favour of keeping people at work, but as a pattern and a new norm this trend is disturbing–a slippery slope in the rights of workers in Ontario.

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