From the equality of rights springs identity of our highest interests; you cannot subvert your neighbor's rights without striking a dangerous blow at your own. Carl Schurz

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Time for Canadian unions to once again embrace civil disobedience

With the Conservative government of Stephen Harper once again interfering in the collective bargaining process in effect stripping Air Canada Flight Attendants of the right to strike,labour is left with but one possible response. Organised labour must unite and as one put the government on notice that the next time they interfere in this manner they will be unleashing a firestorm of resistance from not just the directly affected workers but all of labour even if that means breaking some rules and/or some laws for that matter.

This of course means that labour leaders will need to step up and risk personal consequences in order to lead their members in this struggle, much the way Jean-Claude Parrot did back in 1978 refusing to direct striking postal workers to return to work as ordered to by the government of the day resulting in his imprisonment for two months a couple years later.

For too long now organised labour has tried to play the game by the bosses rules,with disastrous results. When involved in a fight where you are the only one playing by the rules you either adapt and start breaking some of your own or you lose plain and simple.

Civil disobedience works, it has in the past and will again today,if we only have the courage to put some part of ourselves at risk. We need only to look to the Mexican Electrical Workers to see this. Faced with much greater repression and in spite of far greater risks to their safety they have won an important battle for their rights after a six month occupation of Zócalo, the main plaza in the heart of Mexico City.

The path to victory is clear but do we have what it takes to travel down that road? I certainly hope so because if we don't the consequences will be catastrophic for all Canadians not just those who belong to a union

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