Weep not for 'unrepresented' business interests

So here’s my question. Who speaks for workers in the 82 per cent of businesses in Nova Scotia whose employees are not represented by a union?

I ask this in light of the recent foofarah over Bill 100, the innocuous-sounding Act to Establish a Unified Labour Board.


The Dexter government claimed it was merely tinkering—merging a bunch of labour boards, creating a labour-management review committee to advise on legislation, clarifying long-standing policy regarding union successor rights when government operations are privatized, making the act’s preamble conform to what’s been in the Canada Labour Code since 1972…


Nova Scotia’s non-union employers, on the other hand, saw socialist Armageddon writ large in invisible ink behind the bill’s bland but—cue-the-ominous-music—“complicated legal wording.”

They were so concerned, in fact, 19 of our most powerful, best-heeled business organizations banded together to fight the power. They wrote an open letter to the premier demanding sections of the bill be scrapped. They cozied up to the opposition, encouraging their filibuster. They even wangled an hour-long face-to-face with Labour Minister Marilyn More to plead their case.

In the end, they got most of what they’d demanded, including the right to be consulted in discussions on changes to labour legislation.

We probably don’t need to lose sleep over whether deep-pocketed business groups will be able to make their voices heard—with or without these amendments.

But what about minimum wage workers? Contract employees? Shop clerks? Telemarketers? Apple pickers? The least powerful among the 70 per cent of workers not represented by unions. Their interests—a living wage, reasonable hours, jobs with benefits, protection from arbitrary employer action—sure as hell won’t get represented by some bleeding-wallet private sector employer.

The opposition parties? “If business is happy,” Liberal leader Stephen McNeil summed up during last week’s legislative dust-up, “we’ll help move this bill forward.” No comfort there.

Trade unions, once the vanguard of championing all workers’ rights, are under siege and in retreat. Too often, they seem more concerned with hanging on to existing entitlements than in extending benefits to the unorganized.

So who will speak for the interests of workers not in unions? That’s still my question.





  1. The answer to your question is, nobody!

    Now let’s look at just what the real landscape looks like:

    Starting Jan 1st 2011 250 new Senior Boomers turn age 65 each day for the next years (based on the Canadian rate of 32% of our population of Baby Boomers.

    About 50% of Canadians have an active RRSP and the average amount saved is a little over $40,000. The other half have no retirement plan, which is the pits, since 70% of all Canadians will quit working without a pension.

    Add to this most to all non union jobs have no medical plan they can take into retirement to cover costs above MSI.

    It gets worst, those working will have to support Senior Boomers CCP/OAS all couched in much higher Provincial Health Costs.

    Our present day Federal Government is running the largest deficit in this countries history after 36% of voting public tossed a government out on it’s sad ears for putting multi billions in our bank and producing several years of balanced/surplus budgets. (They really did)

    It is safe to predict taxpayers and provincial governments will suffer the wraph of the King in Ottawa come budget time. The food chain is as it always has been, big fish eat little fish and non union personal are just appetizers as more unionized personal are served up to the greedy as a appetizer by bigger catfish.


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