Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Railway Continuation Act vs. Labour rights

I am sure that there were a great deal of people watching CPAC last night due to the debate and voting on Bill C-46 (Railway Continuation Act, 2007). Unfortunately, the bill was passed by 195 votes, versus 71 against (please note that CTV recorded, on the internet, the second reading results versus the third reading; the latter really means more).

The bill was passed, of course, by the Liberals and Conservatives, while it was contended by the NDP and the Bloc Québecois. (If you would like to see who exactly voted which way, please see Hansard, and go to the vote near the bottom of the page.)

What really is the railway continuation act of 2007? Well, it is intended to end the strike/lock-out (different people see it differently; I like the latter) of the United Transportation Union workers at Canadian National railways. The reason that the Conservatives and Liberals cite for passing such legislation is that the 'non-working status quo' is hurting the economy and the farmers, financially. However, the reason of the Bloc and NDP for voting against the bill is that the conditions pre-'non-working' period were not at all good for the workers, especially concerning safety.

So my thoughts on this ordeal. While I am an associate member of the National Farmers Union, and thus on the farmers' side, I would have to stand with labour on this one. While the initial strike was started by the workers, they did have good cause: their safety while working was compromised by CN in favour of more money. So it was completely acceptable for the workers to strike. However, they are now locked out, not on strike; why should labour have to continue to suffer now at the benefit of CN? It makes no sense.

It would be nice for a change to have the Liberals and Conservatives on the side of labour and the people for once, instead of on the side of big business. But yet, they continue to claim that they are. It just doesn't make sense that if they are on the side of labour, that they'd vote for this bill (actually, they never even really mentioned labour at all in last nights events, they know they have the weak side). They may not get the message now, but we can sure show them next election.


Anonymous said...

Labour can't always come first. There are still other groups: economy, FOOD, and farmers. Is it fair to farmers to lose their farm and house over this strike? No.

Jon said...

Au contraire, anonymous. It's labour that keeps this country going.

Sure, what's happening to the farmers isn't good, but they are just experiencing financial loss. The labourers on the railway are not getting enough sleep, and the equipment is not safe; they are in risk of getting injured or dying. That's more serious.

Anonymous said...

Labour has never come first. CP workers continue to suffer from the Adams award of 95. CN workers were not striking over money, they were striking over some deplorable working conditions that it seems CN wants to only make worse. I believe CN themselves said they wanted 30% more work out already extremely fatigued workers, something like 7500 miles versus 4300 per month. Some of these workers are already away from home on the job for more than 100 hours per week. I don't think there are enough hours in a day or month or a lifetime to work that much. Maybe the pension funds needs boosting by shortening the lifespan of the retiring boomers?