Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What is Lisa Raitt in for?

[Guest post from karenatcmg]

Has federal labour minister Lisa Raitt thought about what she may be in for as her government forces its way into the middle of collective bargaining in Canada?

The phrase "class warfare" entered the lexicon again this summer south of the border. Sure, it started out as conservative bluster but then the 99% set up camp on Wall Street. In the midst of all this, Air Canada flight attendants voted down not one, but two tentative agreements. Some of them created a great video to explain just why. Other observers have suggested Raitt sabotaged bargaining by interfering in two previous work stoppages since June and making it clear that any fair deal would only be granted by an arbitrator and not at the bargaining table.

So why is Raitt undermining a bargaining system that has brought relative peace to labour relations in Canada for several generations? Even management-side commentators (including George Smith, former VP of Industrial Relations at CBC) seem to be scratching their heads on that one. It is even more of a question for all of us who care about maintaining or improving working conditions, salaries and benefits. Raitt seems to be trying to take away our existing rights to bargain for ourselves and our interests. History has taught us that workers find other ways to go about it, and Raitt might not like those any better.

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