Sunday, January 25th4.7°C
24779
24277

Labour movement redefining role as face of Canada's workforce changes

Labour Day celebrations across Canada this year come at a time when organized labour is in the midst of redefining its role in the workforce as a decline in the manufacturing industry and the rise of contract and part-time workers has challenged its traditional focus.

Nelson Wiseman, director of Canadian studies at the University of Toronto, said that the significance of the holiday fails to resonate with many people outside the labour movement.

"Once upon a time, people were marching in the streets because they wanted to cut down the (workday) and a lot of people were involved in industry that was there, like manufacturing, but now it's not the case," says Wiseman.

"People don't perceive that (unionized) workers are underpaid or unduly exploited, even though many of them may not be making huge amounts," he adds. "People have more sympathy for you if you're flipping burgers at McDonald's."

The principle aims of the first-wave labour movement — universal health care, welfare, the public education system — are now well-established in Canadian society. Outside of their collective bargaining obligations, Wiseman says, unions have been relegated to serving the role of watchdog.

The types of jobs new to the economy fall out of the traditional purview of unions: temporary service industry jobs and knowledge sector jobs and, in particular, the high-tech sector with a highly mobile workforce that has largely has evaded unionization.

Economic headwinds have forced unions to re-evaluate their brand and their purpose in an economy where steady employment is precarious.

"We recognize that are there are some challenges and we have to grow the labour movement because the economy itself is not the economy of the 50s, the 60s, and the 70s," says Hassan Yussuff, president of the Canadian Labour Congress.

"In that regard we have to orient ourselves to the new workforce," adds Yussuff, who says that the union's effectiveness in negotiating pensions and better wages has been tested in recent years by governments and private sector employers.

"Nevertheless, I think we have a lot to celebrate. All of those good salaries and wages that our members make are spent in their communities and contribute to a successful and growing economy."

In its first year of existence, Unifor — formed on Labour Day weekend 2013 by the merger of the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union — introduced new ways to bring workers from traditionally non-unionized jobs into the fold.

Notably among them, was the Canadian Freelance Union, which represents self-employed media professionals.

It's also moved to solidify its community chapters program for unemployed former Unifor members, providing access to similar health insurance plans.

"We've had to do things differently as it relates to outreach," said Unifor president Jerry Dias. "Our union very much plays a huge role in the community."

The Canadian Press


Read more Business News

24667


Recent Trending




Today's Market
S&P TSX14779.35+15.369
S&P CDNX678.18-0.79
DJIA17672.60-141.38
Nasdaq4757.879+7.481
S&P 5002051.82-11.33
CDN Dollar0.8034-0.0016
Gold1292.60-2.00
Oil46.35-2.34
Lumber311.50+6.50
Natural Gas2.986+0.132

 
Okanagan Companies
Pacific Safety0.115-0.005
Knighthawk0.010.00
QHR Technologies Inc1.38+0.06
Cantex0.035+0.005
Anavex Life Sciences0.1810.00
Metalex Ventures0.040.00
Russel Metals24.48+0.32
Copper Mountain Mining1.10-0.02
Colorado Resources0.155+0.005
ReliaBrand Inc0.006+0.001
Sunrise Resources Ltd0.055+0.03
Mission Ready Services0.22+0.02

 



23015

FEATURED Property
2129605996 Manhattan
4 bedrooms 4 baths
$2,599,000
more details
image2image2image2
Click here to feature your property
Please wait... loading


How to price: workbook approach

In 2008 Self Counsel Press published my book - Pricing Strategies for Small Business. The book is now available in Europe, India, Russia and the United States. The purpose of the book was to make avai...


Ailing Parents: Tax Issues

If your parent has become ill, there can be several tax issues that come into play depending on the nature of their illness, their age and the role that family members are playing. For example, if you...


What do I pay ICBC for anyway?

If you have had ongoing dealings with ICBC as a result of a car accident than you have likely had the pleasure of dealing with at least two sides of ICBC. Initially the relationship starts off pleasan...

_



24465




Member of BC Press Council


24598