The Attack On a Decent
Living Wage Continues
October 12 2003 the Canadian Federation of Independent Business
(CFIB) released a report to the major media outlets titled: New
CFIB research findings on government hirings and wages:
An examination of this report reveals that the CFIB ignored basic facts
in their press release. Mainly that wages and benefits paid to public
sector employees by government pale in comparison to both upper level
management salaries, and the major expense incurred when governments
pay huge salaries to private consultants to do work that could be done
at lower cost by professional civil servants.
Don't let the name fool you, they represent "independent business" not
"small business" and there is a difference in the chosen
terminology. These are not small mom and pop operations banded
together to seek a more cost effective way of running their corner
store. The introductory statement on the CFIB website says it all:
“CFIB works on behalf of more than 100,000 independent business owners
in every sector and region in Canada”. The membership numbers,
coast-to-coast and north to south, across this vast land, indicate that
the CFIB has only slightly more than 100,000 members, and that rather
than voicing the concerns of small business, the CFIB champions the
interests of corporations. Corporations that are perfectly willing to
sacrifice employee health, safety and general well being in order to
generate increased profit margins. They are the beneficiaries of plans
like the "training wage", elimination of overtime and the
elimination of benefit packages.
The CFIB seeks to perpetuate a mythology that public employees are lazy
and overpaid. Yet in reality many of these same public service workers
spend every work day on the front lines, working with the poor, with
crime and violence, and with emergency services. They maintain our
health services, operate the court system, defend our country and
perform many other vital services that we Canadians often take for
granted, at least until they are decreased or eliminated by the
ideologically driven policies of the right wing.
The CFIB membership solely represents the desires of corporate
management. These CEOs and upper level executives already enjoy better
wages, superior benefits and job security than their employees can only
dream of. The rationale of cutting wages and benefits will in the long
term serve few, as fewer people can afford to purchase products, more
small business will go bankrupt. The reality will move closer of
the capitalist dream of a wealthy few who are able to benefit from a
vast pool of semi-skilled labour desperate to take any employment offer
dangled before them
Wake up to this reality and fight back. We need to know the history of
the labour movement and how the wealthy elites treated their workers
during the Industrial Age. We need to know why corporations came into
existence and why workers have been driven to fight for safe working
conditions and a living wage back at the start of the 20th century and
now the 21st century. We need to seek truth.
Take up the fight any way we can. Get active in your union or if you
are not a union shop, contact a union business agent and learn how your
workplace can be organized. We will lose rights and benefits that so
many fought and died for if we do not fight back.
- Dennis O’Brian
A month ago , the Council of Senior Citizens’ Organizations of BC
(COSCO) finished the largest seniors’ conference ever held in the
history of British Columbia. The successful conference dealt with the
issues of Health, Housing and Income. Over 400 seniors coming from all
parts of the Province debated these topics and reached a broad
consensus on a legislative agenda for seniors. The delegates to the
conference were united in their position that the Provincial Liberal
Government has broken the social contract with seniors, and is,
therefore, unworthy of seniors’ political support. The conference heard
report after report from the so-called “heartland” of seniors’ services
being cut back, and closures of hospitals and hospital beds becoming a
daily occurrence. Delegates from Delta reported further closures of
hospital beds in the Ladner Hospital.
The delegates demanded the resignation of Katherine Whittred, the
Minister of State responsible for seniors, for having failed seniors
miserably. In addition, seniors undertook to go back to their
communities and mobilize greater opposition to actions harmful to
seniors. Rudy Lawrence, President of COSCO, said, “Seniors are justly
angry about the unfair treatment they have received from this
government; this government is not only barbaric in how it treats its
seniors and the disabled, but it is also economically incompetent when
it comes to running the Province.
The conference, under the COSCO banner, was organized by retired
academics, health professionals, journalists and community organizers.
The cities of Vancouver, Richmond, Port Coquitlam and Burnaby issued
civic proclamations declaring October 1 2003 the International Day of
the Elder Person and congratulated COSCO for organizing this important
“This conference will have either a therapeutic effect upon how this
Provincial Liberal Government treats seniors, or, if that fails,
seniors might be the straw that will break the Provincial Liberal
Government’s back in the next provincial election,” said Dr. Alexander
Lockhart, one of the conference speakers.
In October's Columbia Journal, you misspelled, and incompletely, my
So, could you please publish a correction –
i.e., Frank G. Sterle, Jr. --
in the next (or following that issue) Columbia Journal.
It would mean a lot to my father and me.
- Frank G. Sterle, Jr.