“Show me the country that has no strikes and I'll show you the country in which there is no liberty.”
Ah for good old lassiez faire capitalism. When workers and the bosses faced each other on a level playing field. Oh yeah when was that? What mythic era? The state uses the big stick of back to work legislation to union bust.
The Canadian chapter of the United Transportation Union, representing 2,800 conductors and yard workers, also vowed to resist Canadian National's plan to sign separate labor accords on a regional basis.
The railroad last week locked out all UTU members in the eight locations where the employees began picketing, including Vancouver and Oakville, Ontario.
``We are suggesting a regional process, but the fact of the matter is that we have pending legislation, which is what we'll have to be governed by,'' Hallman said in a telephone interview. The railroad wants separate accords with union members in eastern Canada, western Canada, British Columbia and Quebec, Hallman said.
Of course this illegal legislation passed as the Liberals joined the Conservatives in giving Criminal Capitalist CN a free pass on having to actually address the workers real concerns; health and safety for themselves and for the public. The only party to defend union rights, the workers, the environment and calling for a national rail policy was the NDP. The bill handily passed third reading in the Commons 196-41.
“Where trade unions are most firmly organized, there are the rights of the people most respected.” Samuel Gompers
W]herever the people enjoy liberty the most, Trade Unions are most formidable. Samuel Gompers
Only the social democratic workers party stood up for lassiez faire. They correctly denounced back to work legislation and the declaration of essential service for rail workers, calling for a lassie faire marketplace between capital and labour.
A strike on any scale is merely a trial of industrial strength, an application of the law of "supply and demand," so often quoted by labor's opponents. How can a society based on free contract and free competition object to such a method of determining the comparative strength and endurance of capital and labor? Samuel Gompers
that the true interests of the working and business classes is in the repeal of laws instead of the making of new ones, and that the powers and functions of governments must be reduced as so as to leave the individual a greater degree of freedom and responsibility for his own acts. Joesph Labadie
CN is not Canada's national railway any longer, it was privatized and is now a North American conglomerate. It has competition as well. The CPR and VIA as well as American Rail Road companies. It has competition from trucking and air as well as marine transportation.
CN workers threw out the February tentative agreement because it failed to address workplace safety issues, issues that impact on Canadian communities.
But the Conservatives having this back to work legislation in their back pocket from back then, brought it out instead of the Labour Minister acting to bring the two parties to arbitration.
Then they imposed closure on the debate around Bill C-46 so that it would pass in one day. Closure on debate of any bill has not been used in Parliament until Tuesdays debate around Bill C 46.
When the bill passed it was only opposed by the NDP and some members of the BQ. The Liberals who turned tail on anti-scab legislation again turned their backs on Canadian workers and supported the Government, because of course it was they who privatized CN and they too have used the big stick of back to work legislation in the past when it came to rail and postal strikes.
Below are excerpts from the debate that highlight the real issues around this strike, CN's terrible safety record which I have documented in my blog. Outside of two BQ MP's speaking out the majority that spoke were the NDP MP's.
I have quoted Samuel Gompers through out this piece, the first president of the American Federation of Labour, because he was a libertarian, and not a socialist, but an advocate of pure and simple economic trade unionism. Something that folks forget. No advocate of statism he would oppose the state interfering as they did with Bill C-46. A free market cannot exist without free collective bargaining.
If we strike or ask that the matter be submitted to arbitration, we are told there is nothing to arbitrate. If we strike in order to enforce what we believe to be our rights, we are enjoined; and if we exercise what we believe to be our rights in spite of the injunction, we are guilty of contempt of court and are put in the jug during his honor's pleasure. There is not anywhere we can go for the purpose of trying to bring about some remedy, some change, some improvement but we are met by the same opposition, prompted by the same cause, prompted by the same motive, and that is to leave the workingman helpless to the mercy of the employing class. I think, though, I may say that that time has gone by. The workingmen of our country have learned somewhat of their rights, and they propose to stand by them, and they have the courage to do so, too. Samuel Gompers
The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-46, An Act to provide for the resumption and continuation of railway operations, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Mrs. Carole Lavallée (Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, BQ):
The employees have implored us through their actions to say that the government needs to take action. Safety issues are the number one concern. Instead of addressing any of those safety issues, we have the Minister of Labour handing over a blank cheque to CN management.
Mr. Gordon Rhodes, who is a long time locomotive engineer, the only survivor of one of the most egregious recent accidents where two CN employees were killed due to CN's poor safety management practices, was at the transport committee yesterday. Here is some of what he said about safety management in his testimony, which is the first of what we certainly hope will be many opportunities to inquire into the low safety standards that we are seeing with CN.
|--I can speak about the fact that from my experience working for CN when it was Canadian-owned and my experience working for BC Rail, and now we've gone to CN again which is American-owned, the contrast is immense...When you opened up your rules books, when you opened up your timecards, safety was number one when it was Canadian-owned.|
|I think that Transport Canada has dropped the ball and I'm not pointing fingers at individuals, it's the system.|
|How does a bridge fall down with a train on it? Sorry, I'm emotional as I've been part of something very awful. I've witnessed two of my friends die right in front of me. Why? Because people don't want to hear the truth. People are afraid to talk about the truth because the truth is going to cost money.|
|I'm not American, I'm Canadian and I used to be proud to call my company Canadian National Railroad back in the 1980s. Now I'm not even allowed to. I'm supposed to say CNR. What's this?|
|CN has gone in the opposite direction and they're very adversarial. I call it the poisoned work environment because that's what it is. Nobody wants to go to work there. Everybody's counting the days, the months and years, till they're gone, they're out of there, and that's not the way it was, and that's not the way it was at B.C. Rail. [...]|
|The way I look at it is this: CN is a big multinational corporation. Their railway goes from Mexico to Canada. They have amalgamated many or absorbed, and I don't know the proper terminology, but they've bought many railways and they've absorbed them into their system. They're experts at doing that. The problem here is that they absorbed one railway that they had no expertise on. They thought they did, but they don't. Their arrogance is what happened in the sense that they came in, they took our GOI, General Operating Instructions, with 50-some years probably of railroad knowledge of how to run trains on that track, but you're going to do it our way because we want it all homogenized. We all want it one way and that's it. They didn't listen to anybody, they just ploughed ahead with their system.|
Mr. Charlie Angus (Timmins—James Bay, NDP):
When I speak about my number one concern, and that is the issue of safety, we can look at the safety audit that was done on CN Rail. It said that there were numerous problems with safety inspections and with CN's safety management practices. Again, we are getting back to the whole issue of a corporate philosophy.
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for trying to address the concerns I raised in this serious matter, but I do not think he fully gets the point I was trying to make. Final offer selection finds its origins in pro baseball. That is where it first was used. After all the other issues are stripped away and there is only money left and the two parties are still at an impasse, then both sides are forced to temper their demands with reason because the arbitrator can choose one or the other but not elements of both.
HOUSE OF COMMONS OF CANADA
An Act to provide for the resumption and continuation of railway operations
BY THE HOUSE OF COMMONS
APRIL 17, 2007
As workmen and workwomen remain organized for any considerable time, strikes diminish. They establish for themselves and with their employers means and methods of conciliation, of arbitration, and it is only when those absolutely fail that there is a stoppage and break in their relations. After all, that which we call a strike is nothing more nor less than an interruption of the former relations which exist between the workmen and the employers for the purpose of arriving at a new working agreement. Samuel Gompers
On the specific dispute at hand, we have to remind ourselves that the Canadian Industrial Relations Board ruled this a legal strike. When the strike originally took place back in February, workers, who were under the direction of their democratically elected negotiating committee, were negotiating terms to go back to work back in February, but the government kept pushing for back to work legislation. I recall this because the media kept reporting that back to work legislation would be introduced.
|Shippers serving highly competitive export markets and retailers needing to stock their shelves with seasonal imported merchandise will all be affected.|
Bell (Vancouver Island North)
Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley)
Martin (Winnipeg Centre)
Martin (Sault Ste. Marie)
Thibault (Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques)
Total: -- 71
Liberty of the individual should be the guiding principle of all reforms…Individual liberty does not, however, destroy the right of association for the accomplishment of specific objects. The entering freely, voluntarily, into a contract with others to do something is not a curtailment of one's liberty. You do not give up any rights when you join a society. In the case of a trade union, for example, one does not give up his freedom when he becomes a member, because the object of his joining is to enlarge his sphere of liberty. It is the exemplification of gaining freedom by association. Without his union, the workman is much more the slave of his employer than he is with it.
CN Strike No Hinderance To Honorary Degree
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