Friday, October 19, 2007

Canwest Preaches Competition

Today's Vancouver Sun editorial describes the new era of labour relations between Frank Stronach and the CAW and extols the virtues of competition. No argument from me there.

The irony is the Vancouver Sun, as well as, The Province, Courier, Metro, National Post and GlobalTV are owned by CANWEST GLOBAL Communications.

Hmmmm. The federal government should "Take Heed" and bring the current era of media monopolies to an end.

After all, where is the incentive to compete?


EXCERPT: Vancouver Sun - October 19, 2007

Take heed, Vancouver: A new era in labour relations is possible

After all, Vancouver has just endured one of the longest strikes by city workers in history and relations between the employer and the Canadian Union of Public Employees appear worse than when it began. Mayor Sam Sullivan predicts the next election will be a power struggle between his governing Non-Partisan Association Party and CUPE, rather than one of the opposition groups on council. The union, he says, hopes to install "a CUPE mayor."

The reason the common sense revolution that changed the dynamic between the CAW and Magna can't be repeated at the municipal level is that neither the city nor the union has to face competition.

There is nothing to temper union demands and only fear of a taxpayer revolt restrains the employer's willingness to accede to them.

There is no partnership between CUPE and the city. It is an antagonistic relationship in which the union is out to get as much as it can and local government's only concern is upsetting the citizenry to the point at which the governing authority is voted out of office. There is no discipline of profit, no goal of improving productivity, no expectation -- indeed, no intention -- of raising the quantity or quality of service.

Roughly 65 per cent of the city's budget is labour. As CUPE workers' pay goes up by nearly 19 per cent over the next five years (which is what the 17.5 per cent raise amounts to after compounding), citizens will provide the revenue to fund the increase through higher taxes. Taxpayers should not have to tolerate the withdrawal of services they have contracted and paid for.

It is time to reconsider the rules of public sector labour relations and ensure they also serve those who pay the bills.

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