Treasury Board President Tony Clement today announced that his government intends to get tough on public servants.
For starters, he wants to end the lavish 15 sick days per year that most public servants are contractually entitled to. According to Tony, work rules in the public service haven't changed since the 1970's.
That's a telling statement. Mr. Clement is acknowledging that they haven't improved since the 1970's.
Private sector workers have in the interim had the rug pulled out from under them, a process that began in the 1970's but was greatly hastened by the introduction of NAFTA. Workers of a certain age will remember the sales job.
In fact, "jobs jobs jobs" was Mulroney's mantra as he campaigned for "free trade." American money, Canadian resources, and Mexican labour would make a world-beating combo that would raise all boats in a veritable tsunami of prosperity!
Even the dullest shop-hand had misgivings about that. Not hard to see where it would be a bonanza for the American money and the Mexican labour, but what about the rest of us? That's where Mulroney expertly appealed to the worst instincts of the public; our inherent racism.
You see, the Mexicans were just getting the crap jobs. US and Canadian workers would flock to the coming wave of clean and lucrative high-tech jobs that the stupid brown people couldn't do if they wanted to.
The bosses got their free trade agreement and it didn't take long to see that the joke was on the workers. That's why private sector wages in North America have been going backwards for thirty years, and will continue to do so until we have wage parity with our Mexican free trade partners.
And the beauty of this reality is that it permits politicians like Tony Clement to argue that public sector wages and benefits have to be determined by prevailing private sector standards, which are in turn determined by what an impoverished Mexican is willing to work for!
It's a great system for the bosses and the owners and their politicians.
Not that great for the rest of us.