Going Beyond the Limits Imposed by Labour Relations

Going Beyond the Limits Imposed by Labour Relations – Enver Villamizar –

A serious issue facing Ontario teachers and education workers in the ongoing negotiations in K-12 education is how the Ford government is concentrating police powers in its hands. It demands that what it calls negotiations take place within the confines of labour relations but gives itself the right to dictate terms outside of the labour relations regime using its legislative majority and prerogative powers. When the workers recognize that they are deprived of power within the labour relations regime and make their fight a political fight which concerns the entire society, they win the support of their colleagues, parents and students. The government then tries to get them to give this up with promises that if only the workers stay within the labour relations regime they can make headway.

At this time, for example, the government is going after teachers and education workers’ pay and benefits at the negotiating table where it is the negotiators on both sides and lawyers who are informed and able to speak. Those who must live under the conditions decided or imposed and the public which is directly affected by the outcome do not have a role or voice. The government deliberately attacks wages and benefits at the negotiating table in order to try and put teachers, especially, and their unions on the defensive based on a disinformation campaign that education is a cost, and teachers and education workers are a drain on the system rather than its most vital component.

What is most important at this time is to not accept foregone conclusions or pessimism but to pay attention to the actual conditions in K-12 education and what is required. This is a matter of concern to the entire society, and includes the pay and benefits of those who provide education. By keeping teachers and education workers defensive about their wages and benefits the government is hoping to keep them within the confines of the labour relations regime where they hold the cards. However, when they can’t get the unions to accept what is unacceptable they will once again try to use their political power to dictate what must be accepted while keeping the workers constrained.

By not permitting themselves to be constrained by the very regime which does not restrain the government, the workers can make an advance, involving everyone in the fight for the right to education which has been shown to be where power lies.

(Photo: OSSTF D9)