CALGARY, Oct. 31, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - Anti-union measures in a new
omnibus budget bill and a series of anti-democratic policy proposals at
the Conservative Party convention in Calgary this weekend will have
serious consequences for Canadians should they ever become federal law.
Elected leaders of the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers
(UCCO-SACC-CSN) and its union affiliation, the Confédération des
syndicats nationaux (CSN), made the warning at a press conference this
morning while appealing to delegates to use common sense and reject the
Clearly intended as a theme for the next federal election, they said,
the resolutions represent a frontal attack on the foundations of
democracy: the right to freedom of speech and freedom of association.
The budget-implementation legislation in Bill C-4, meanwhile,
unilaterally changes labour-relations rules in the federal public
service in a massive power grab by the Conservative government.
"Stephen Harper wants to gag our right to free speech, then campaign
against us for re-election while we are muzzled," commented CSN
Secretary-General Jean Lortie. "But the CSN will not roll over. We will
be there, from coast to coast, to loudly oppose these attacks on the
middle class and on our fundamental human rights."
For example, the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers built a
life-size prison cell for use in its public interactions at Calgary's
Marriott Hotel this weekend so that delegates and the public at large
could better understand the dangers of double-bunking in federal
"The public, our members and inmates are clearly at risk from
double-bunking, but these proposals seek to stop us from speaking out
about this practice," said UCCO-SACC-CSN National President Kevin
Grabowsky. "We need an open and honest public debate about this and
many other issues, but Stephen Harper only wants us to shut up."
No less than eight separate policy resolutions at the Conservative
convention seek to strictly restrain union activity. According to one
resolution, "worker contributions to unions should be limited to the
costs of collective bargaining and union-administered benefits."
If this had been the law when UCCO-SACC-CSN was founded in 2001, noted
Mr. Grabowsky, the union would have been unable to successfully
campaign for stab-proof vests, or to use handcuffs, or to be armed
while conducting public escorts of dangerous inmates who are often
members of powerful criminal organizations.
"These important safety battles clearly benefit the public, but they are
not governed by our collective agreement," said Mr. Grabowsky.
"According to this logic, we should be able to withhold the part of our
taxes that go toward government programs we don't support."
For his part, Jean Lortie said this brutal assault on the Canadian union
movement would impoverish the middle class and add to an already
growing income gap between rich and poor. He pointed to a long list of
crucial public programs that were won or improved by union political
activity: health care, pensions, accessible education and employment
insurance, to name but a few.
Previous Conservative government initiatives under bills C-377 and C-525
are resurfacing, added Mr. Lortie. These laws would reveal intricate
details of almost all union spending and create obstacles to the
certification of new unions.
"These efforts clearly seek to create an uneven playing field in favour
of employers at the negotiating table," he said. "What we don't see are
equivalent measures on the other side. What are employers paying their
high-priced legal help? What about their spending on misleading
In the end, Mr. Lortie warned, the Harper government is seeking to
destroy any independent public base of opposition to their campaign to
remake Canada in a way that only a minority of Canadians support.
"This is why they are using the almost unlimited power of government to
silence the voices of the majority: it's the only way to lower the
living standards of the middle class and to destroy our social safety
net. We will never accept this, and we call on democratic voices in the
Conservative Party to oppose these initiatives."
Finally, Mr. Lortie said a national movement is building to oppose the
destructive policies of the Harper government. He invited Canadians of
all backgrounds to get involved in preparations for and to attend the
Peoples' Social Forum now being planned for Ottawa in August 2014.
SOURCE: UNION OF CANADIAN CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS (UCCO-SACC-CSN)
For further information:
Lyle Stewart, CSN communications service, 514 796-2066