Friday, October 11, 2019

Election 2019 Voter Guide: Part 3

With the 2019 Federal Election fast approaching, the New Brunswick Union (NBU) and the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) have compiled a voter’s guide for our members.
This series will lay out how the party’s stand on topics such as privatization, human rights, austerity, pharmacare and income inequality, among many others.
The NBU is non-partisan, meaning we do not support any political party. What we support is our members making informed choices when it comes to the future of our country.
We hope this guide will help you understand the issues and where the party’s stand.
Part 1 of the series will dealt with austerity. Part 2, deals with Income Inequality.
Today’s edition will look at Labour Rights.

Labour Rights

Canadian workers’ rights have been under consistent threat for decades, but there have been some positive developments as well. Workers have finally gained some measure of constitutional protection for labour rights. In 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that workers have the right to choose their own union, bargain collectively, and have the right to strike. While these rulings are welcome, we still have governments that violate workers’ rights and have no respect for the Charter or our Constitution. Workers are forced to go to the courts to defend already-won rights, which takes years of expensive litigation.
Ratification of ILO Convention 98: The Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining Convention. The federal government has finally adopted ILO Convention 98. This was a long-overdue step forward by Canada, which had been holding out alongside countries known for poor human rights records. Unfortunately, ratifying this convention has not stopped governments blatantly violating our Charter and international human rights obligations by not respecting workers’ right to collective bargaining and to freedom of association.
Winning Charter protection of labour rights and ratifying an international convention supporting workers are important steps forward, but more work needs doing on a host of issues, and governments need to take action.
This includes:
• Mandating a living wage for workers by legislating a $15/hour minimum wage;
• Implementing anti-scab legislation so that the right to strike has meaning in Canada and is not undermined by replacement workers;
• Mandating an increase in vacation days in the Labour Code;
• Stopping the overbroad use of essential workers’ legislation to undermine bargaining;
• Improving health and safety regulations and ensuring workers have the absolute right to refuse dangerous work;
• Stopping contract flipping, which violates workers’ right of association.

Track Record & Campaign Promises

The Liberal party has not stated its goals for the coming election in relation to workers, and it will be important to press candidates to commit to strong protection of labour rights.
The Conservative party never explicitly states its intention on labour rights but continues to be the main party attacking workers and undermining labour rights. This is true at the provincial and federal levels. It will be important to expose the party’s destructive position on these issues during this election.
The NDP is very clear on its support for workers and labour rights. It is explicit about supporting anti-scab legislation, a $15 minimum wage, stronger health and safety legislation, etc. This clear and positive position is welcome and sets the NDP apart from all other parties on these issues.
Green Party
The Green Party has taken some favourable positions in relation to workers’ rights in the past, but overall it does not focus on the needs and challenges facing workers. While it is not explicitly anti-worker, it seems obvious that labour rights are not an election priority for the Green party. The notable exception is that the party is strong on the need for a ‘just transition’ to protect workers as we move from the fossil fuel based economy towards a green economy.