Our governments must act to stop our collective impoverishment

sans-titre

International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
Press release
For immediate distribution

Our governments must act to stop our collective impoverishment
 

The FTQ and its affiliates unanimously adopted two resolutions proposed by IAMAW to combat offshoring and abusive outsourcing practices with the goal of PROMPTING both levels of government to implement concrete measures that will protect jobs and defend the manufacturing sector.

Abrupt closures, offshoring and outsourcing are the result a lack of political commitment from our governments, who refuse to protect their citizens and promote a fairer and more equitable national economy. Working conditions and job stability for workers nationwide have been substantially affected by certain aspects of the various free-trade agreements and the absence of legislative measures to protect jobs. Every day, we see examples of this imbalance in the way our economy is managed.
To restore balance

AIMAW will present 6 demands addressed to both levels of government that attempt to restore balance and humanize economic evolution in Quebec and Canada.

1. We demand that our governments require job guarantees when granting tax credits, loans or grants to a multinational corporation.

2. We demand that laws be put into place so that businesses assume social and economic responsibility for the consequences of abrupt shutdowns, offshoring and abusive outsourcing practices.

3. We demand that measures be put into place requiring employers to disclose any relevant information to workers and their representative, or to grant them the time to negotiate in the event that a closure, offshoring or production outsourcing process is planned.

4. We would like institutions such as the Institut de la statistique du Québec and Statistics Canada to be given the mandate to compile clear and comprehensive data on the phenomena of offshoring and outsourcing, and their impact on workers and the national economy.

5. We believe that government contracts should promote high quality jobs. Employers who do not meet their commitments, who resort to offshoring or outsourcing to circumvent labour standards should be barred from government contracts.

6. We demand that our governments take an active stance internationally to respect fundamental social rights and social human rights, and that they denounce and sanction transnational organizations who relocate their operations to countries where these rights are not respected.
Statement from David Chartrand, Vice-President of the FTQ and AIMAW Quebec Coordinator:

“This is a DEVIOUS problem, because when you look at the phenomenon from the business’ point of view, you can see that requiring worker flexibility, outsourcing, offshoring and abrupt shutdowns can make businesses more productive and competitive, boosts profits and helps our economy grow overall.
Except that most of the time, our governments don’t look at the other side of this equation when rolling out the conditions that make these types of operations easier. They don’t see the impact that their economic policy has on workers, on people who work hard to earn a living, one paycheque at a time. People in the real economy, who physically create and consume wealth day after day. These people watch their job security disappear and their working conditions destabilize. Their pension funds grow more volatile, and their hopes for the future diminish. These workers are losing rights and liberties in the name of an economic growth that benefits them less and less.

I’m not against the idea of less-restricted trade, but it’s ridiculous to see governments implement free-trade agreements that threaten the autonomy of their citizens, that compromise their health, lessen their access to high-quality education and undermine their right to work in a healthy environment and earn their living with dignity.

In the name of opening up the markets, a handful of politicians and people in the 1% want to tell us, the vast majority of the population, “Sorry, but in the name of economic growth, we regret to inform you that you’ll have to give up your bright future.”  Multinational corporations have no social responsibilities to the counties that shelter them. The state’s ability to create an environment that promotes happiness, freedom and security for each citizen is compromised by this economic formula that relies first and foremost on corporate growth and heightened competition between workers around the world.

This economic neoliberalism has been a blight on the global economy since the 1980s and is now on its way to abolishing our democratic ambitions, our solidarity and our humanity.  Slowly, our survival instinct is asking us to have a portfolio instead of a heart, a calculator instead of a brain. We must find a balance and place limits on the growing power that the business world has over citizens’ lives. Workers and the Quebec government must work together to regain control of their economic destiny. After the departures of Humpty Dumpty, Electrolux and Mabe Canada, the announcement that the Mondelez plant in Montreal will be shut down is one more reason that we need to change how we do things. I would even say it’s one reason too many. We must stop writing blank cheques to businesses.  Multinational corporations use taxpayer money for their own development, through grants. They ask for discounted electricity rates, they have customized infrastructures built, they use our schools for research and development, they have access to a qualified workface, and after exploiting the benefits that helped them expand, they blackmail us for more – or they’ll leave, accountable to no one.

Right now, Quebec has its lowest employment rate in 40 years, at 6.2%.  However, I have serious doubts about the quality of the new jobs created. While unemployment has dropped, food assistance claims have gone up 5.4%. That means 100,000 new requests for help each month. 11% of the people asking for food assistance have a job.  More and more workers are living below the poverty line in Quebec. This is unacceptable. We need ways to improve the quality and quantity of jobs available, and protect them. A minimum wage of $15 and measures to manage outsourcing and offshoring would be excellent starting points to help Quebec’s workers.”