Thursday, December 20, 2012

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Thomas Walkom discusses the meaning of the Ontario Libs' attempt to take collective bargaining rights away from teachers in the context of the wider labour movement:
The union movement is one of the last remnants of the great postwar pact between labour, capital and government.

That pact provided Canadians with things they still value, from medicare to public pension plans. Good wages in union shops kept pay high, even in workplaces that weren’t organized. Unions agitated for and won better health and safety laws that covered all.

True, union rules made it more difficult for employers to axe slackers. But they also ensured that when someone lost his job, it was for real cause — not because he or she had refused to sleep with the boss.

Some employers were content with all of this. Many were not and, as their profits came under pressure, demanded what they called greater flexibility — in wages, work practices and hiring.
Over the past 30 years, most Canadian governments have devoted themselves to eliminating anything that interferes with this flexibility.

So think of this latest foray against teachers as part of a package...

How can employees be encouraged to accept the discipline of this new world when they see some, such as teachers and other public sector workers, still making good wages?

The former Tory government of Mike Harris certainly tried to solve this problem and bring the teachers’ unions to heel. At one point it outlawed work-to-rule tactics and made it mandatory for teachers to coach sports after school. But in the end the Tories backed down.

Now it’s the Liberals’ turn. This government has given itself the power to set teachers’ wages and working conditions arbitrarily. It calculates that most voters will be envious enough of teachers that they will support its plans. It may be right.
- It's long past time for Stephen Harper's contempt for the provinces and social institutions alike to lead to some sustained backlash. And Robert Ghiz' comment about Harper sabotaging health-care talks looks like an important step in that direction.

- Meanwhile, Craig McInnes picks up on an obvious problem with the Cons' CPP obfuscation and delay tactics - as the longer we wait to implement a system which actually provides for a secure retirement, the higher the cost will be for the people working once a policy change is implemented.

- pogge notes that the rest of the world is well aware of Canada's turn for the worse under the Harper Cons - with a failing grade on human rights from Amnesty International serving as the most recent example.

- Finally, Andrew Potter's distinction between naive and cynical politics is well worth a read. But I'm not sure the proposed division actually represents much of a change from at least some conceptions of left/right politics: is there any meaningful difference between Potter's terminology and, say, George Lakoff's "nurturant/strict parent" model which includes more clear ideological content?

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