Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Lower wages, no security and no benefits...signs of current economic imbalance

If you want to see what's happening to current conditions for workers in this economy, visist your local Loblaws store and learn about the changes happening there.
First, the name Loblaws is being removed from the store, after a long history, probably extending to at least 100 years; and this, so that any contracts with workers, and their unions will imediately become void. By a simple name change, the wages and the benefits that have been paid to workers in these stores for decades, through serious negotiations by both sides, are terminated, and this termination occurs without risk of a lawsuit because there is no more Loblaws.
Jobs will be offered to current employees, but at reduced wage rates and either no or certainly lower benefit packages.
And "the back story" is, of course the WalMart story, where unions are not and will never be tolerated, and where wages and benefits are barely above minimum if there even are benefits, and where a larger percentage of shoppers are purchasing the same products that have been offered by Loblaws since they began operating.
There is a conscientious campaign being conducted by corporate executives in the retail sector on the backs of their workers. There is a determined effort, blatant and with impunity, to emasculate the labour movement, not only in retail but also in other sectors. Job security, benefits, decent wages and a process for negotiating these hard-fought gains on behalf of workers are disappearing like the snow from the recent winter storms, never to re-appear.
So it is not only that there are fewer jobs, but those jobs that do exist, or are re-configured, are not the same as the jobs previously filled by loyal and hardworking employees.
This tragedy will not stop with Loblaws; it will move into other segments of the retail business, and eventually, like a storming microbe, take over the labour situation across North America, at our own peril.
Why is it that European countries continue to have both strong economies, in Germany, for instance, with significant benefit packages for workers, but here they are being stripped away?
All of this happens in a context in which CEO contracts demonstrate a difference of some 300 times that of the average worker, whereas, thirty or forty years ago, that discrepancy was in the teens. What's wrong with this picture? It simply stinks.

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