The Voice of Working People is the Most Valuable Asset to Address the Problems of the 21st Century

The Voice of Working People is the Most Valuable Asset to Address the Problems of the 21st Century

Time and time again governments of all stripes paint public sector workers as the problem in society. This, in fact, presents the workers as a drain on society rather than its most valuable resource. During the pandemic, this slander could not pass as the government needed public sector workers to hold the society together. So, they praised them as heroes and “essential”, while refusing to provide the conditions required so they could do their jobs with dignity, in a manner that does not wipe them out physically or emotionally. Now that the pandemic is declared over, the Ford government in Ontario is trying to go back to its insults, provocations, and threats against education workers as if the pandemic never happened. The public and education workers themselves know the value they produce for the society. They know that their labour is what keeps society going and permits the youth to contribute to the economy as workers, professionals, artists, etc. This is a very positive factor that shows that there is no going back to the days when workers’ rights could be negated with claims about “protecting the economy” or “protecting students”, in the case of education.

The government must once and for all be brought to its knees and made to accept and respect workers’ right to a say over their wages and working conditions. The Ford government does not want to come to a solution that is sustainable or acceptable for all parties. They operate as a government of police powers that rules through regulations while creating the impression they are spending en masse to hide the massive theft of public funds taking place being doled out to large private interests. All the most regressive changes in education – whether it be increasing class averages, mandatory online courses for students, etc. – have been done through ministerial orders, without negotiation or discussion with teachers and education workers, parents, or students. At its heart, a government of police powers such as this sees the workers and the citizenry as things that they can dispense of and force to do what they wish. How else can one explain that the government asserts that it will decide whether or not teachers provide voluntary extracurricular activities outside of their working day? Or legislate unacceptable contracts? This reveals that the main fight is the right of workers to be treated as human beings with rights to speak about their working conditions, put forward their proposals and solutions to the problems and negotiate with the government so that solutions can be found. Such a fight is not the fight of one group of workers, or one union. It is a fight of all workers and all human beings for their right to decide what their future and, in this case their education system, looks like.