FTLComm - Winnipeg
July 6, 1999

I have a keen dislike for labour disputes, perhaps because of my first hand experience as a child when my father went on strike for the five day work week but also
because a strike is a clear indication that peaceful resolution of a dispute has failed and the last resort, "force" has been implemented to settle the disagreement. That to me is uncivilised and it is always unsettling to see human beings resorting to force. Perhaps I view that as a sort of dehumanization of our species. Warfare, strikes and law suits all seem to stem from a degree of unreasonableness that should be resolved or sorted out prior to the end battle taking place. This conflict in Winnipeg seems to involve Manitoba Telephone people and their company which has taken the unusual step of locking out its employees.

We seen this tactic used by SaskPower when as a preemptive attack the company closed its doors to its employees then blamed them for unfair demands and the provincial government proceeded in impose a legislated wage agreement upon them. It is understandable to see a group of workers upset with their employer, so much so to refuse to work but for the employer to prevent the worker from working this truly is uncivilised behaviour.

If a group of workers ask for to much and the employer is unable to meet those demands or unwilling to meet the demands
surely there must be some other, more gentile way of resolving the difference. The one sided nature of conflicts of this type make us even more concerned. Companies such as MTS and SaskPower seem to be able to dictate the cost of their services or product at their whim so that it would seem that they are always in the driver's seat and there has to be something unfair about that situation.

One of the truly false conceptions about the wage component in the economy is that hire wages are necessarily inflationary and that is a bad thing. In actual fact high wages mean directly higher taxes paid by the individual worker and therefore it is a financial benefit to everyone if
significant numbers of workers get higher wages.

It is ironic to be seeing this situation and doing this article in Winnipeg, the site of the incredible general strike that rocked the black hearts of North American capitalists. Winnipeg's general strike was a major event in the political evolution of this country and it was from that event that Canada's political "left" took shape. Many people would suggest it was that strike and the developments from it that set Canada apart from the United States as a more civilised and progressive society. Unemployment insurance, welfare and universal medical care have been a part of Canadian society for decades and the reason they exist may have its roots in this windy prairie city.

In the mean time strikes across this country continue to demean the bargaining process and we are increasingly seeing government quick to take an active part in the process, circumventing the natural laws of supply and demand, and imposing legislated collective agreements, which are not collective agreements at all, but imposed governmental control of the labour situation. The next time one of these things happens, consider this, the whole concept of the "free market" economy is that things will self regulate, yet when the laws of the jungle butt up to the business world, it immediately wants government intervention, thus defying the concept of the "free market". Labour is a commodity and in North American today it is being treated as a controlled item. Essentially, what we see is the big time "capitalists" are truly socialists at heart when ever their profits are at risk.