Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has advice for union members at the bargaining table: take that pay cut and smile!
At a conference last weekend, Wynne said that:
“There are still too many people in this province and in this country who see labour relations as a battlefield. For them, labour relations is all about winners and losers…. I don’t think we can afford that any longer.”
Wynne praised unions and employers who are “more collaborative.” She pointed to the recent announcement of 1,000 new jobs at the Ford plant in Oakville as an example of job creation made possible by working together.
But “working together” in this case meant the union, Unifor, accepting big wage and benefit cuts and the provincial and federal governments giving Ford $140 million to expand the plant. I don’t fault the union or the government for fighting to keep jobs. But what exactly was the company’s contribution to this collaboration? As far as I can see, they agreed only to keep on making record profits from their North American workforce – and not much else. Great on Ford!
Kathleen Wynne calls this way of thinking “solution-oriented.” But it’s a solution that favours employers. Every time.
In the public sector, working people take pay cuts (after inflation) while the public sees big service cuts and big corporations enjoy billions a year in tax cuts.
And companies harvest even more tax dollars through contracting out of government services – even when it would be cheaper to do the same work in-house.
For all her talk about working together, Kathleen Wynne is presiding over a massive transfer of wealth from wages and public services to corporate profits. Her role, as she sees it, is to make the transfer happen smoothly.
We don’t have to help her. And we certainly don’t have to smile.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas
President, Ontario Public Service Employees Union