Unions need to speak out against Harper

"It is not exactly a secret anymore that Harper and his corporate buddies are hard at work to destroy the labor unions..."

It is not exactly a secret anymore that Harper and his corporate buddies are hard at work to destroy the labor unions, both in the public – and private sector.

In view of that, the silence on the part of the private sector unions has been puzzling to say the least, in sharp contrast with, for example, the work of Susan Lambert on a provincial level on behalf of the BC teacher’s Federation.

It made me think of an old movie – “ The Silence of the Lambs “- with Anthony Hopkins.

What the title referred to I’m not sure but I think it had something to do with being led to slaughter.

So, if not unions, who will stand up for working people when even the NDP seems to have given up fighting for a true social democracy, if not quite having sold itself to capitalism as yet ?

But before we point the finger we should first ask who deserted whom. We only have to look back at the last provincial election to realize that the NDP was virtually forced to change direction.

The rot had already set in well before my retirement, now 20 years ago, when the great majority around me saw no more need for unions in the mistaken belief that corporations had somehow morphed into benevolent institutions about on par with Santa Claus. In effect putting their trust in capitalism.

Those too young and those without memory may be forgiven for being unaware of what labor unions achieved for working people, with union wages alone setting a bench- mark for wages in general.

With especially those on the lower end of the pay-scale now  being the first to suffer the consequences of declining wages. But the apathy on the part of old-timers – and some of the leading lights in various union organizations who do know  better – is very disappointing.

The relative comfort of a decent standard of living must have had the same soporific  effect on us as an enjoyable meal; we dozed of.

In order not to wake us, the cut-backs, whether in healthcare, education, pensions, employment insurance,  wages and who knows what else, have been incremental but steady.

It was hardly surprising then when the corporate elite were much quicker off the mark than labor in realizing the potential of globalization. The ability to shift jobs to other countries that had lower wages and not to forget the tax advantages that came with it.

Effectively gaining near total control in the labor market.

Whereas in 2010 at a United Steel Workers national policy conference in Toronto when a British guest speaker spoke about the importance of establishing a Global Union  Alliance, most of the delegates got up and went for a coffee.

Obviously, the point still lost  on many.

Unlike lambs we have a voice, so why the silence ?

Peter van IerselFruitvale

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