Monday, July 23, 2007
As other writers are beginning to say, there has to be a better way to settle labour disputes than to hold taxpayers hostage to political posturing.
For the time being, the scales seem to be tipped in favour of the strikers who not only said they would attend negotiating meetings, they actually rented a room for the purpose - to no avail. News reports indicate that City of Vancouver negotiators refused to meet over the weekend. So, here's a message for the Mayor:
You, Mr. Mayor, are not the employer; taxpayers are. Moreover, those same taxpayers hired you to do a job on their behalf - and part of that job is to negotiate in good faith when union contracts come up for renewal. 'Good faith' is not political posturing in front of TV cameras to state that you will "never" agree to a contract that will allow a strike during the 2010 Olympics. No-one to my knowledge ever said that was their intention.
You may think it's a good idea to take a page out of the Gordon Campbell Book of Political Behaviour, but I can tell you it doesn't wash with most taxpayers - no matter how they voted. Recent reports have shown that many are spending close to 70% of their income just to keep a roof over their heads and feed themselves. Yet you feel you can sit back and do nothing to avert a City-wide strike? Who do you think you are?
Citizens are royally fed up with paying multi-billions in taxes and still having little to no say as to how that money is to be spent, and on what. Recent news reports have been full of the Canada Line story, telling how that project alone is destroying business after business along Cambie Street - and now you want to drive away more tourist business with stinking piles of garbage and the rats that follow it?
It's high time taxpayers banded together and refused to put up with this kind of arrogant free-wheeling on the part of politicians...especially when it's accompanied by gold-plated pay increases.
What is needed is a system that requires both parties to strike a panel of three arbitrators - one for each side and one agreed upon by both sides. Those three, plus two or three people from each side of the dispute get thrown into a room, where they stay until an agreement is reached.
Until then - a caution to union negotiators: It will not take much for the tide of public opinion to turn far enough for taxpayers to call for a pox on both your houses.