Friday, June 17, 2011

The Postal Workers and the War on Pensions

I visited a postal worker's picket line yesterday morning. And in the evening Sébastien dropped by and took this great picture after the Cons announced they intend to force them back to work.

The Conservative government is vowing to legislate an end to the Canada Post lockout even if it means extending the Parliamentary session and overriding the strong objections from labour and the opposition.

NDP Leader Jack Layton and interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae both accused Prime Minister Stephen Harper of ignoring the larger issue behind the disputes – the trend of employers moving away from defined benefit – or guaranteed – pension plans for new hires.

We both had the same message for the workers, the nicest bunch of people you can imagine. We are against this war on pensions, this assault on young and old Canadians, and we support their union one-hundred percent.

We felt we had to say that eh? After hearing so many people muttering that they don't have a pension so why should the postal workers? As if a race to the bottom is what this country needs. Instead of a decent pension system for everyone, so old people can live out their lives in dignity instead of misery.

And the young aren't treated like slave labour. And condemned to a future of low wages and exploitation.

But of course that's exactly where Stephen Harper and his Con ideologues would take us, to please their masters in Big Business...

Today on the CBC the despicable capitalist shark Kevin O'Leary said, if he was Prime Minister, he'd declare unions illegal. So you know what those porkers are thinking eh?

The good news? If they try to turn this country into a jungle they'll have a hell of a fight on their hands. I was delighted to see how many ordinary Canadians honked their car horns in support as they drove by the CUPW picket line.

They know, as Seb and I know, that unions are some of the greatest defenders of our precious Canadian values, champions of human rights, that without them we would ALL be slaves.

And of course that, see you in the streets brothers and sisters. Say it again Billy.

There is power in a UNION...


  1. I posted Billy Bragg's "Power in the Union" on my facebook wall last night, dedicating it to our brothers and sisters on the picket line. Within seconds, someone who considered themselves progressive came and shat all over the posties' generous pension plans.

    Why are so many people willing to make it a race to the bottom? How does that help their or the lives of their children be better?

    This person lamented about probably having to work well past 65. This is how I responded:

    I too am on the Freedom 85 plan given what little CPP and my "bloated" government pension will provide. I don't blame the unions for this sad state of affairs. I blame the shift in our economic priorities where diminishing workers' benefits has been the trend for the past decade or two. What Nortel did with their pension plan is a crime. I hold my contempt for that 1% of the wealthiest who get obscene bonuses and pension packages that could feed a freaking village.

  2. We're not objecting to their pensions, but their growing greed about it. They already make more than most Canadians and they can't put anything aside for themselves? Come on. They want raises, higher starting salaries and bigger pensions for jobs that should be automated by now. And frankly, the service is so poor that I'm amazed they can claim Canada Post has been profitable up to now.

    Just ridiculous. I'm all for unions and pensions, but having both and a government salary? That's our tax dollars getting siphoned out of the system right there.

  3. And really, the reason so many lefties are against this crap is because these unions aren't protecting hard-to-do workers anymore. They're protecting the upper middle class. Who has sympathy for the upper middle class when the majority of us will never reach that?

  4. Hi Simon another great post.
    This is nothing short of class warfare and if it's a war Harper and his corporate masters want then I say we give em one hell of a fight

  5. hi Beijing...As I said in my post I do not understand this race to the bottom. Do people really think that making other poorer will help them live in a better and safer society? It's just absolute selfishness, and it makes me sick.
    And of course as you point out, the
    outrageous part is that the people behind this assault on working people are the porkers from big business to keep on pocketing huge bonuses, despite the fact that many of them are either incompetent or crooks.
    The good news is that this porkyness is becoming more and more obvious, and if we are ever going to beat them we will have to unite...

  6. hi Prin...I'm afraid I can't agree with you. Remember those workers make a lot of money for the post office. I talked to them on the picket line and I found out some interesting things. One that they are mostly women, and that although they say they have made many suggestions to management about how to improve productivity, management doesn't listen to them, and screws things up all the time.
    Like bringing in a huge machine, with software that doesn't work.
    But as I said in my post I wish everyone would concentrate on providing pensions for everyone, rather than attacking those who have one.
    Because that's the only way we are going to end up with a kinder, gentler society.
    Maybe as you say unions should do a better job of reaching out to more workers, but right-wingers and Big Business have been waging war on them for years, and they are still the best defenders of working class people...

  7. One more thing prin...don't take my word for it. Go and talk to the workers on a picket line near you, and trust me you won't find any fat cats there. Just ordinary people like you and me...

  8. hi you have written about so eloquently it is becoming more of a class struggle. In the U.S. and Britain they are stripping workers of their rights in the most brutal way possible. Here in Canada they are more subtle, so far. But if we don't fight back the end result will be the same.
    BTW I did tell the workers that when they hold a demonstration I'll be there with my video camera ...and my drum... ;)