labour

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As we approach what would have been the 100th birthday of Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman, I am reminded of his common sense thinking. “There is no such thing as a free lunch,” he once famously remarked.  The same could be said of Premier Christy Clark’s Family Day, the statutory holiday that will come into effect just a few months before British Columbians go to the polls in 2013. Someone will have to foot bill. And unfortunately, it will be the very people the holiday is supposed to help: ordinary BC families.


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Imagine a world where your car insurance company charges everybody the same premium; the premium doesn’t depend on your driving record or the number of claims you make. Nor does the premium depend on your age or other characteristics that increase your risk of getting into an accident.

Such a system seems absurd because it benefits bad drivers at the expense of good drivers. But this is exactly how Canada’s employment insurance (EI) program operates.


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Like most striking workers, BC teachers tend to believe they are underpaid and overworked. And like most employers today, the BC government is facing tough economic times and can’t afford to be generous with its workers.

It’s a classic labour relations standoff that stems from attitudes deeply imbedded in human nature and driving the almost universal belief that one’s work is not valued properly.

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Now that the Labour Day celebrations are done, we should look beyond the picnics and parades, and reflect on the country’s labour laws and in particular, whether they actually serve the interests of workers. Unfortunately, such legislation restricts worker choice and gives disproportionate power to unions.

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With Labour Day just around the corner and British Columbia's unemployment rate at 7.3 per cent, Premier Christy Clark's promise of a jobs agenda is welcome news. Unfortunately, her actions haven't backed up her words.


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Given the current fiscal climate -- the BC government's significant deficit ($1.4 billion over the next two years) -- and comparisons with the income of average BC families, now is hardly the time for BC teachers to be asking for more. Rather than give to the demands of the BC Teachers Federation, Premier Christy Clark should ensure the next collective agreement ties teacher pay to performance.