5/31/11

Hudak PCPO promises to privatize, cut services, and restrict workers' rights.

Here is a list of the main items regarding labour in the Progressive Conservatives policy manual ("Changebook") released on Sunday:


Labour laws:

"We will make Ontario’s labour laws fairer for union members and taxpayers. We will change Ontario’s labour laws to give union members more flexibility and a greater voice. We will give all individuals the right to a secret ballot in certification votes. We will introduce paycheque protection so union members are not forced to pay fees towards political causes they don’t support. Unions will be required to be transparent and open with their financial information, just as businesses and charities are."




Goodness gracious, I hope they did not pay a lot of money to whoever wrote this. Except for the part about making it more difficult for construction workers (who have "card certification") to form a union, it's a model of vagueness.   Nevertheless, details be damned, it's clear enough that they intend to reduce the collective power of working people.  


Privatization. Special attention is meted out for support workers in the public sector:


"We will introduce initiatives requiring public sector unions to compete for government contracts, where appropriate. For example, if we can improve service delivery and get a better deal for taxpayers, in areas such as support services like food preparation or laundry in our public institutions, we will require public sector unions to compete for government contracts."


This is an old tactic.  Focus on attacking the lowest paid workers in the public sector in the hope that this group (who are mostly women) will be the easiest target.  CUPE represents many support workers and the public sector is one of the few areas where support workers have been able to win a modest, but reasonable living standard.  This is a very nasty attempt to end all that, by a party closely associated with the big private corporations that stand to make big profits from the policy.


The fact, however, that the Conservatives only flag groups like support workers, shows they are nervous about privatization.  The previous Mike Harris Conservative introduced the same compulsory contracting out model in home care --and that has proved disastrous for everyone involved (politicians included).


Bottom line: the Conservatives have a burning urge to privatize. This policy will open up new profit opportunities for the corporations that back the Conservatives and many CUPE members are specifically targeted by the policy.  We are on the front lines, once again!


Cutbacks to the public sector:


"We will reduce the size of the bureaucracy. This will be achieved primarily by not filling vacant positions. We will protect vital front line positions in health, education, and public safety." 
"Outside of our priority public services of health and education that will grow, we will find savings of two cents on the dollar, every year on government spending. Two percent – this is realistic and achievable."


As discussed in an earlier note, their idea of "growing" health care is to cut. So all other public service that don't even have that protection are in for more than a spot of trouble!


But note, their careful edging ("protect vital front line positions") suggests they are worried that this could get them dumped into the bin with Mike Harris.


Public sector bargaining:


"We will bring public sector paycheques in line with private sector standards. We will work with our public sector partners to develop a pay and benefits package that is fair, but that recognizes the enormous financial hole that Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals have dug. We must address this gap to protect Ontario’s long-term financial stability."


No surprise here -- they intend to reduce the wages and working conditions of public sector workers.  The fact that public sector wage settlements have fallen behind inflation is of no account.  Real wages are not falling fast enough.


Workers who have had their right to strike removed  and who have to settle contract disputes through interest arbitration (e.g. police, firefighters, hospital workers) are singled out for special punishment, however:


"In recent years, arbitrators have awarded unions excessive contracts, even as Ontario has been saddled  with record deficits and a struggling economy. Ontario families get stuck with the bill. We will fix this costly problem. We will require arbitrators to respect the ability of taxpayers to pay, and take into account local circumstances. We will make the system more transparent and accountable by requiring arbitrators to explain the reasons for their decisions. When arbitrators make decisions that cost Ontario families money, those families deserve to know why. We will require that clear and tight time frames be met by arbitrators so that the provincial and local governments can budget accordingly."


Most of this is pretty vague as well.  (For example, arbitrators already consider "ability to pay" - So what might the Conservatives mean when they say "We will require arbitrators to respect the ability of taxpayers to pay"?)  But the intent to go after workers stuck with interest arbitration is unmistakable.


This will go down just fine among the tiny percentage of Ontarians who sit around corporate board rooms.  The problem for the Conservatives is the policy will primarily hurt people they would like to win over: police officers,  firefighters, paramedics, and nurses.  And that's a lot of people.

2 comments:

  1. The global recession was hard on economies around the world. Ontario worked with people when others would have cut them loose. The economy is back on track. Ontario jobs are coming back and growth is returning. See the progress report here: http://bit.ly/k2ADga

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hudak cannot be trusted.

    ReplyDelete