The Operating Engineers will be putting together a national political action strategy in time for the next federal election in October 2015.
A resolution on the matter was passed at the 55th IUOE Canadian conference recently in Nanaimo, B.C. The resolution had been drafted and proposed by Local 793.
The executive board of the IUOE Canadian conference will be working with the IUOE Canadian regional office in Ottawa to develop an effective and properly funded action strategy.
The resolution said the federal Conservatives led by Stephen Harper have unfairly targeted trade unions and working families over the last few years and there’s no sign of it subsiding.
The resolution stated that the Conservatives have legislated away workers’ rights in labour disputes at Air Canada, CP Rail and Canada Post, and have implemented changes to EI that will make workers accept jobs at lower wages and travel extensively in order to qualify for benefits. The resolution also stated that the Conservatives have increased the age for collecting Old Age Security to 67 and are working to pass Bills C-377 and C-525.
“Without a co-ordinated strategy to fight back and say clearly that enough is enough, the federal Conservative attack will only continue and likely escalate,” the resolution states.
Local 793 business manager Mike Gallagher had spoken about the need for action in a speech at the conference.
“We have to change the way that we are operating,” he said in his remarks on the final day of the conference. “Our traditions are fine but the ground is moving underneath our feet right now and we’re not getting ahead of all of the challenges that we have coming.”
He said the Operating Engineers, along with other labour unions across Canada, need to step up to the plate and take action because the country is headed in the wrong direction.
“It’s way off on the wrong track and what we’ve done in the labour movement – including ourselves – is we’ve battened down the hatches and we’re trying to hold on to our traditions and we’re not having any kind of success, from what I can see, whatsoever.”
According to the resolution, the Conservatives are likely to continue their attacks on unions.
The resolution states that the only option to ensure that no government is allowed to dismantle all the Operating Engineers and other building trade unions have achieved in terms of improving worker and trade union rights is to develop an effective “fight-back” campaign.