Inequity is one of the greatest problems facing Canada today, and can only be addressed with a strong union movement, Unifor National President Jerry Dias told the union’s inaugural Prairie Regional Council recently.
“The trade union movement is about raising the standard of living for everyone,” Dias said February 28. “And that means getting out and working in the community.”
The inequity is all around us, Dias said, from young people forced to take unpaid internships, to families struggling to get by on minimum wage, to seniors with inadequate pensions.
Across Canada, he said, 100,000 seniors rely on food banks. The Canada Pension Plan provides a maximum of about $12,000 a year, well below the poverty line, and only 30 per cent have a workplace pension, Dias said.
“Let’s think about who those seniors are. They are our parents, our grandparents and our neighbours,” Dias said.
Unions are the best way to fight such inequity, Dias said, because they fight for the rights of all working people, not just their own members.
Dias urged delegates to be active in their communities, campaigning during elections, or even running for office, and speaking out on issues that affect the quality of life for the working class – whether members or not. Only by being active, he said, can change be made.
“We will never win justice with our silence,” Dias said.
As part of that effort, Dias said the delegates from Manitoba need to push NDP Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger in the next election to bring in card check for union organizing and anti-scab legislation.