Government-run Unions?

Fri, 08 Nov 96 23:08:13 -0600


On Nov.7 and 8, Manitoba witnessed the death of democracy, at the hands of our Tory
government. Dispite mass public protest and outcry, our majority government rammed
through bill after rights-stripping bill. First, Union power has been limited by provisions
which call for mandatory contract votes at the request of the employer and Labour
Minister. Also, unions are now restricted in their political campaigns at election time.
Unions will now have to disclose all financial information to the public except the amount
in strike funds (but, of course, total revenue - non-strike fund monies = strike fund).
These provisions give the employer considerable power in the bargaining process - power
to see if a union can finance a strike, power to coerce employees not to certify a union,
and power to make sure business friendly Tories stay in the Legislature.
Its not just union members under attack: Bill 36 changes the welfare system to one
province-wide jurisdiction - a move one step closer to "work-for -welfare" (a.k.a. cheap
labour and union busting!!!!). Bill 32 has allowed universities to be run from an
appointed council - one with no student representation! Bill 49 has implemented
APPOINTED, NON-REPRESENTATIVE regional boards to oversee health care cuts
(for example: Northern Manitoba is at least 50% native. The board of eleven people for
that region has one woman, one native, three unelected Tory MLA candidates, and all are
card-carrying Tories.) Teachers are now unable to bargain their salaries due to a bill
which gives school districts the ability to pay "only what they can afford". Lastly, say
goodbye to our public owned telephone system - it being sold off.
Our current government has a terrible record for exceeding their mandate. They
promised during the election that health care would not be lost, but we have seen a
closing of major hospitals and emergency rooms. The government has no mandate for the
bills past this session - people did not elect them to strip the rights of working (and non-
working) people. They have set up a system where either themselves, or appointed
boards are running the fundamental needs in our lives - education, health and work.
We have fought hard, but to no avail. We have let democracy slip away from us,
and our only hope now (in a functional sense - no talking of the revolution today) is in the
NDP. Scary thought, eh?