Art by Yousef Amairi

Art by Yousef Amairi
the struggle continues

November 22, 2013

DOWN WITH BILL C-4: Statement by the Central Committee, Communist Party of Canada, Nov. 16-30, 2013 issue People's Voice

The Communist Party of Canada strongly condemns the new omnibus Bill C‑4 to implement elements of the March 2013 Conservative budget, changing many laws and containing an array of measures, including a fierce attack against the right to strike in the public service.

In particular, this bill now gives the government, as an employer, the exclusive right to determine which services, facilities or activities of the State it considers essential, depriving public employees of their right to strike. Currently, the determination of essential services is the result of negotiation between the employer and the union.

In addition, the bill provides that where the employer has said that at least 80% of positions are essential, the right to strike will be completely abolished and the dispute must be referred to arbitration. However, when the employer considers that less than 80% of services are essential, the employer will have a veto over the arbitration. The bill also provides that the arbitrator shall be required to place a preponderance of weight to employer demands.

Finally, the right to strike will be removed when the exercise, according to the Government, becomes a threat to the Canadian economy.

The Supreme Court will soon determine whether the right to strike is protected by the Constitution, following a disputed lower court ruling about a law similar to Bill C‑4 adopted by the Saskatchewan legislature in 2008.

In his book on the asbestos strike of 1949 in Asbestos, former Prime Minister Pierre‑Elliott Trudeau, who cannot be accused of being a Communist, wrote:

"In the present state of society, in fact, it is the possibility of the strike which enables workers to negotiate with their employers on terms of approximate equality. It is wrong to think that the unions are in themselves able to secure this equality. If the right to strike is suppressed or seriously limited, the trade union movement becomes nothing more than one institution among many others in the service of capitalism; a convenient organization for disciplining the workers, occupying their leisure time and ensuring profitability for business."

In fact, Bill C‑4 violates the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which provides that "everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests."

This bill confirms the special laws that the government imposed during its negotiations with Canada Post and Air Canada last year. It adds to a series of recent actions by the Conservative government against workers and their organizations, such as the phasing out of tax credits granted to people who subscribe to credit funds workers, the obligation imposed on trade unions to publicly disclose all their financial statements (C‑377), legislation to make union organizing more difficult by eliminating automatic "card check" certification (C‑525), and threats to remove Rand formula.

All those attacks against the labor movement aim to weaken and neutralize the labor movement, the main obstacle to establishing total domination of big capital and its austerity policies on Canadian society, constituting a serious threat to democracy itself in Canada.

The Communist Party calls upon the Canadian labor movement, particularly the CLC, to mobilize its members and prepare a concrete response against the anti‑democratic and anti‑worker Tory program.

(The above article is from the November 16-30, 2013, issue of People's Voice, Canada's leading communist newspaper. Articles can be reprinted free if the source is credited. Subscription rates in Canada: $30/year, or $15 low income rate; for U.S. readers - $45 US per year; other overseas readers - $45 US or $50 CDN per year. Send to People's Voice, c/o PV Business Manager, 706 Clark Drive, Vancouver, BC, V5L 3J1.)

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