Uncertainty is the expectation everyday in this COVID-19 world. However, returning to just as we were before the pandemic is not a recipe for success across a society that will eventually be fully adapted to living with COVID-19 or in a post COVID-19 world.
Kevin Smith, Grey Bruce Labour Council President, says “we only have to look at the billions of dollars that have been added to bank balances of the richest of the rich to know what a failure capitalism in its present form is. This obscene enrichment happened while millions lived without any form of financial, food, job or housing certainty. Decent work for everyone must be our collective goal if we are to make our future livable and sustainable”.
The Trade Union Movement and progressive partners see October 7th, World Day for Decent Work, as a day to push for and promote through activities such as lobby efforts and direct action the need for decent work. There could be many definitions of what decent work is, but in its simplest form some of the pillars are fair wages, safe and healthy workplaces, easy access to union organizing, robust pension plans, work life balance and benefits such as adequate sick days.
The World Day for Decent Work is not only about the workplace. It is also about sustainable communities. Michele MacDonald, President, Barrie and District Labour Council notes “it is time that the government takes action to provide substantial support to municipalities, so we don’t fall behind in our recovery. We have to be thoughtful in our recovery efforts. We don’t have to do things that same way we did prior to COVID-19. We need to consider sustainability of resources, the environment and people.”
On October 7th Labour Councils, Unions with their partners will, in a manner that puts health and safety first, undertake actions to amplify the need for decent work. Not just decent work in the short term as we recover, but in the long term to ensure that we do not backslide into the unsustainable world of recent years. The Doug Ford agenda softer because of his COVID-19 presence. The Ontario Conservative attacks on public services and workers are unaltered. Witness actions such as further cutting of healthcare funding and the public sector. In Grey Bruce, Bill Walker’s office and in Barrie people can expect to see some form of direct action.
Such actions will certainly draw attention to the need for decent work for everyone, but the Ford failures in a safe return to schools and the lack of initiative on ensuring proper taxation on the richest of the rich to make sure that workers are not burdened with having to pay back the money that has and will continue to see us through the pandemic.