RE: Labour Day 2020
This year will be a very different Labour Day. Normally we would be joining other labour unions for a parade in our respective regions and connecting with each other in person at the annual barbeque. However, with the coronavirus pandemic, that is not possible.
COVID-19 has had a dramatic effect on all our lives and has fundamentally changed the way we live and work. Whether you had to move to working from home overnight, or are dealing with the coronavirus on a daily basis as you continue to go into your workplace, or somewhere in between, I am in awe of the courage and dedication that PSAC members have demonstrated over the past six and a half months.
For those who have unfortunately have seen their work diminish or disappear, we will continue to work with DCL and separate employer locals as they face layoffs and changes to their working conditions as an impact of COVID-19.
Amidst the rising COVID-19 cases and our unpredictable realities, the work of PSAC and the labour movement as a whole has not and will not stop. Each region across the Prairies continues to face many challenges for working people.
In Alberta, workers are under constant attack from Jason Kenney’s UCP government. From criminalizing dissent with Bill 1, to busting the door open for privatization of our public health care system with Bill 30, to driving away talented medical professionals in the midst of a global pandemic with their recent conduct, to the harmful changes to Employment Standards and the direct attack on labour unions’ political work with Bill 32, Premier Kenney is waging war on working people and Alberta’s valuable public services. PSAC is a part of the coalition of people fighting back.
In Saskatchewan, people are heading into a provincial election where the future of the province’s Crown corporations could be at risk. PSAC will be an active part of this election to defend our valued Crown corporations and make workers’ issues a priority at the ballot box in October.
In Manitoba, Premier Pallister is out of touch and asleep at the wheel. Instead of mobilizing the province’s resources to support those most affected by the pandemic, Mr. Pallister chose to consistently shame low-income and precarious workers with attacks on CERB – a critical program that PSAC members delivered in record time – waste public dollars on unnecessary benefit programs and threaten massive cuts to public services and public service workers.
When we fight back, we can win. In Manitoba, when the Pallister government wanted to circumvent collective bargaining rights with The Public Services Sustainability Act (Bill 28), a coalition of labour unions came together to challenge it in court as unconstitutional. We won. Same thing happened in Saskatchewan when the provincial government under Brad Wall aimed to eliminate public sector workers’ legal right to strike with the Public Service Essential Services Act (Bill 5).
We have some tough fights ahead of us but we will be fighting them together. Your union will always be there to defend our members’ rights and the rights of working people across the Prairies.
Regional Executive Vice-President
Public Service Alliance of Canada, Prairies