(Editor’s note: the following is an open letter to the Government of Saskatchewan)
Members of the Communist Party in Saskatchewan point out that you are questioning the entire
range of rights enjoyed by the labour movement and all workers, the majority of people. Too many workers have died in the struggle for the rights you are questioning for this matter to be ignored.
Do Saskatchewan’s labour laws need to improve? Yes, they do. Basic improvements include:
• shorten the work week to 32 hours, with no loss in take-home pay;
• ban compulsory overtime;
• significantly increase the minimum wage;
• extend labour rights and protections to foreign “guest” workers;
• strengthen job and pay equity legislation;
• strengthen the right to organize; stronger penalties for employer interference;
• ban scabbing.
But it is obvious that the intention of your review is to attack labour rights.
Your questions are a thinly-veiled effort to set the stage for a massive attack on unions and workers’ rights, just like the anti-worker attacks under the pretext of “austerity” by right-wing, pro-corporate governments across Europe and many jurisdictions in North America, such as Minnesota or Ohio. The only solution is for unions and other popular organizations to defeat these right-wing governments and their anti-labour, anti-people agendas.
Your questions are just a tactic to keep workers fighting defensive battles and prepare a corporate wish list where to weaken unions and boost profits. Your government has never campaigned for the expansion of laws that protect the working majority of Saskatchewan.
It is time to mobilize for a fight that will defeat your government and its corporate backers.
Saskatchewan unions will have the solidarity of workers across the land, and you will lose.
You cannot justify attacking rights used by working people to improve their lives, the lives of their families and their communities.
Attacking workers and their families only makes it clearer that capitalism is failing to provide hopeful or stable living conditions for the majority of people in Canada and around the world.
The wars Canada is helping start are another sign of crisis for global capitalism.
Your corporate backers would be astonished to hear you explain to the workers of Saskatchewan that the purpose of your review was to improve labour laws.
On the other hand, we believe the time is right to question the entire range of rights enjoyed by the big corporations and banks in Saskatchewan, including why they should exist at all. If you ask questions, everyone should ask questions. Your questions are limited by narrow, selfish corporate interests.
Broader questions can only help working people get out of the mess you are creating in an economy built on the strength of other countries (resources), injustice to Aboriginal peoples, lowering wages and impoverishing people, killing the family farm, limiting access to education, and catastrophic miscalculations about the environment.
You may not like this line of questioning, but the majority of people in Saskatchewan – Aboriginal peoples, workers, farmers and small businesses – will appreciate that such questions would be fair and even necessary.
Darrell Rankin, Trade Union Commission, Communist Party of Canada, MB.