Vote for Scumbag of the Year

Vote for Scumbag of the Year

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January 3 2023

Vote for Scumbag of the Year!

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Our annual contest of the worst employer in Canada continues! Based on nominations from Rankandfile.ca readers, the short-list of nominees is now available. We have four public sector and four private sector Scumbags to select.


What’s in store for 2023?

Rising inflation and a tight labour market led to an upturn in strikes through 2022, especially in the private sector logistics, manufacturing and food processing in the Windsor-Quebec corridor. The combativity carried on from hard-fought defensive strikes against employer counter-attacks in 2021.

Will the new combativity continue? And will organized labour begin to coordinate actions around the Cost-of-Living crisis and generate a greater challenge to the corporate austerity status quo?

In their August 2022 article, Ritch Whyman and Lee Gilchrist said that a set-piece battle against public sector unions could derail the recovery of militancy. The Ford government in Ontario tried to make this happen but ran up against 55,000 highly-organized and angry education workers (OSBCU-CUPE). Focused on major wage gains, the dispute ended in a bittersweet manner (look out for Rankandfile.ca’s long-form analysis coming this month).

While OSCBU wage demands fell short and mirrored BCGEU’s preceding wage settlement, Ontario education workers scored a stunning victory when they destroyed Ford’s Bill 28 “nuclear option”. This was a far cry from the Ontario public sector’s failure to strike against Bill 124, or past defeats like the Battle of Bill 115 or the Harris-era Battle of Bill 160. The tenacity of Ontario’s education workers means that 2022 ended without the kind of defeat that would throw off the real but fragile recovery of confidence and combativity.

The other major danger in 2023 is the recession being engineered by Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem’s pace-setting interest rate hikes. Baseless propaganda from Macklem and the Business Press has tried to play up the dangers of “wage-price spiral”. As prices and profits climb, the fact is wages are being decimated by inflation. On Macklem’s agenda, which is the common agenda of Canada’s business class, is the instigation of a recession to raise unemployment and break up the tight labour market that is helping workers begin to fight back.

Furthermore, there is no evidence that hiking interest rates is going to tame inflation. Rising inflation is rooted in deep-seated problems in the global economy, notably the pandemic’s shattering of supply chains and “essential” workforces made brittle by years of cuts to workforces and refusal to make infrastructure investments. Just ask a railway worker!

Bringing together organized labour into a confrontation with the Cost-of-Living Crisis is going to require a blend of old and new demands. Old-timers and students of labour history have pointed out that organized labour has largely lost COLA clauses in contracts - Cost of Living Adjustment language that protects wages from inflation. The question is, which union is going to achieve this breakthrough and what can be done to build the support needed to achieve it?

New tactics and demands are likely required to confront the healthcare crisis being allowed to deepen by provincial governments as well as the federal government’s inaction to enforce the public mandates in the Canada Health Act. It’s no secret the agenda of many provincial governments is the starvation of public hospitals, public clinics and EMS to facilitate the expansion of private for-profit delivery and services.

How can workers confront what is the worst healthcare crisis in Canada since the beginning of medicare in the 1960s? Long tamed by “essential service” laws and strike bans, organized labour has to find a way to break out of these legal traps through mass civil disobedience. If shutting down services is not an option, maybe it is time for unions to explore disruptive actions such as locking out management, shutting down for-profit clinics and r0

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