Unifor president engages Selinger

Jan 27, 2014, 16:39 ET from Unifor

TORONTO, Jan. 27, 2014 /CNW/ - The national president of Canada's largest union in the private sector met today with Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger and urged him to do all he can for working people in the province, and across Canada.

"Working people across this country are being challenged like never before, and we need premiers like Greg Selinger to stand up for them - and that's exactly what I told him today," Unifor National President Jerry Dias said after the meeting.

At a time that the federal government and other provinces are attempting to weaken workers' rights, Dias emphasized to Selinger that he's in a unique position to reverse the trend by doing more for working people.

Dias is in Winnipeg in the first western stop in a series of meetings across Canada to prepare for a nationwide campaign to defend the rights of Canadians in the workplace.

"Unifor is standing up for the rights of Canadians to provide for their families in safe and stable workplaces," Dias said. "Unionized or not, we believe that's what all Canadian workers want."

Dias invited Selinger to be part of that effort, telling him that as an NDP premier he should be doing more to advance the rights of working people, including bringing in anti-scab legislation and union certification when more than half of employees in a workplace sign union cards.

Dias warned that efforts by Ontario conservatives to eliminate the Rand Formula will put pressure on other jurisdictions to do the same. That would be a huge step back for Manitoba, which in 1972 became the first province to implement the Rand Formula, making union dues a payroll deduction for everyone in a bargaining unit.

"Without unions and collective bargaining, it will be impossible for most Canadians to attain a decent, secure life," Dias said. "The current attack by governments across Canada on our basic labour rights will fundamentally damage our quality of life - and that's why we are determined to stop it."

At the federal level, the Harper government's Bill C525 would make it easier to decertify unions on the basis of biased voting rules. In Alberta, Conservatives have made it illegal for some unions to simply talk about striking.

Unifor was founded Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions merged. With more than 300,000 members, including 13,000 in Manitoba, Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector.