CLC needs to raise awareness

"Raising political awareness of union members should be made a major task of the CLC."

The scant coverage of the recent Canadian Labour Congress elections in the Trail Times was rather surprising given Trail’s demographics. But then again; perhaps the editorial staff at the Times is well aware of the lack of interest on the part of union members in matters that should concern them.

The CLC itself is not entirely faultless in that regard. At the CLC Convention on May 5, the successor as president to local boy Ken Georgetti, Hassan Yussuff, stated: “When labour fails to mobilize its members it will have limited effect on decisions.”

But when those ‘decisions’ are actually to be made, come voting time in political elections, it is left to the membership to glean the awareness of what is really going on in the world of politics, from a corporate press. Obviously not the most reliable when it comes to informing working people. And judging by the limited number of subscriptions to an alternative source of information such as the quarterly Canadian Council for Policy Alternatives, it is obvious that a better source of information is needed.

Raising political awareness of union members should be made a major task of the CLC.

Admittedly not an easy task given our addiction to circuses and celebrities. So obviously not in the form of submissions to the popular press, where little Prince George demands the limelight, but possibly in the form of a monthly newsletter handed out to union members on a wide range of topics.

Without corporate control the real stories can be told in a more unorthodox fashion that may be more effective in mobilizing the membership.

When given a clear explanation of the intended function of the Bank of Canada for example, and how the bank really operates, we might no longer ignore politicians the likes of Mel Hurtig, who more than 20 years ago, already recognized the need to re-structure the Bank of Canada.

And when considering the growing income inequality it might help to put things into proper perspective by pointing out that other than possibly the odd one in the construction of ever bigger, ever more palatial bank buildings, no working man ever dies in banks, no, they die in coalmines, by the hundreds. And it is the executives of private banks that go home with the biggest rewards in the form of salaries and bonuses while these banks don’t add a cent to the nation’s wealth. Until the financial collapse in 2008, we might have seen these outrageous rewards as possibly justified, believing them to be financial wizards, but, to our cost, they proved to be nothing but gamblers.

There is an urgent need to bring awareness of the real world to the rank and file. Some kind of alarm bell is needed, but don’t expect the real power brokers to ring it.

For the past few decades we’ve not been short of bread, but the slices are getting thinner and those we elected to government make sure we remain hooked on the circuses.

It also wouldn’t hurt to point out that greed is not just a privilege of the rich, we too can be guilty of that, for is it not an illusory luxury when contemplating adding a thousand dollar chrome package to the new pick-up truck without a thought about the world we leave our kids?

Footnote: At the 2011 CLC convention major changes were made where regional Labour Councils were pretty well side-lined in voting for a new CLC executive. These are pure Harper tactics with no other purpose than to consolidate the formation and long-term duration of the sitting executive.

These changes will no doubt lead to alienation between the rank and file and the CLC and will ultimately result in the demise of the CLC as such.

Peter van Iersel