Report: Labour Council Meets —

On June 12 the Windsor and District Labour Council held its final membership meeting before breaking for the months of July and August. Labour councils are part of the Canadian Labour Congress, the national organization representing unions across Canada. Labour councils are made up of delegates from affiliated unions. They are a venue where the unions not only report on their activities but exchange information and views on matters of concern as well as coordinate their efforts.

On the minds of delegates at the June 12 meeting was the provincial election and how to prepare for the upcoming municipal election. Some delegates expressed frustration with how, despite the working people’s opposition to cuts to social programs and privatization and their experiences with governments like those of Mulroney and Harper federally and Harris provincially, the Ford government was still elected.

A teacher highlighted the fact that an elementary teacher had run in the election as a teacher who stands for the rights of all. This was significant he said, given that when governments unleash attacks on workers, especially in the public sector, they often start with teachers in the hopes that they can rally the public against them. Having a teacher run as an independent and receive the second highest number of votes of all independents across the province is itself a statement that teachers are capable of standing up for themselves. This was met with applause from delegates.

A public servant informed that it is important to ensure that the Ford government is put on notice that it will not be permitted to destroy the labour-run Workers’ Health and Safety Centre that receives funding from the province. He noted that Premier-elect Doug Ford’s own business has a reputation for harassing health and safety inspectors who have been called to the company’s facilities over complaints, which gives an indication of what he thinks about workers’ health and safety. The delegate also noted that privatization of Ministry of Labour inspection services and what that would mean for inspectors’ role to uphold health and safety is also something that should be opposed.

Referencing comments Ford made in Peterborough during the election where he reportedly indicated he would implement much of his agenda through municipalities, a health and safety activist said squeezing municipalities and downloading responsibilities to them was one of the ways in which the Harris government had imposed its agenda of cuts and privatization. He raised this in the context of discussing the importance of participation in the municipal elections to be held on October 22.

A postal workers’ union representative spoke about the results of an arbitration case on pay equity that was recently decided. The Canadian Union of Postal Workers has been fighting for pay equity for all workers irrespective of whether they work in a rural or urban environment and job classifications. The representative said pay equity has been a major issue for a long time at Canada Post. She also informed that there would be a rally on July 16 at the Tecumseh Post Office to support postal workers who are facing a reorganization by the company there.

The Labour Council’s next big event will be Labour Day, September 4, followed by its first meeting after the summer break on Tuesday, September 11.