This text is part of the special Syndicalism booklet
On the Quebec calendar, since the 1970s, the 1er May is about celebrating activism and the collective strength of the national workforce. Unlike Labor Day, which originated in workers’ rallies at the end of the 19and century, will International Workers Day still have the same meaning in 2022?
According to Luc Vachon, president of the Central Democratic Unions (CSD), that is more the case than ever, for a very simple reason: to “improve society as a whole”.
“Union centers need to bring about social change,” he explains. It goes beyond just the people who represent our unions. Yes, union struggles start with our members, but unions must open up and fight for the betterment of society as a whole. That’s what the 1 is for.er May, to remind us of the importance of living together. †
The “big end of the stick” mirage
One of the recurring themes in the labor market in recent months has been labor shortages in various industries. With the pandemic dragging on for two years, management discourse suggests that workers “have the big end of the stick now,” a view that Luc Vachon does not share.
“If you look at salary increases, you see big numbers, sometimes around 20%. But these impressive percentages are too often linked to entry-level salaries, upon hiring, to attract new employees,” explains Luc Vachon. As for the higher levels, “mainly we see increases of around 3%, well below the inflation rate”, which reached 6.7% in Canada in March, which was unheard of in the country in 31 years.
How can a citizen earn a decent income earning just $14.25 an hour? The amount of $15 per hour was already required 5 years ago.
By doing so, the critical mass of workers in Quebec does not improve purchasing power, and retaining talent presents a new challenge for employers. “Because it is not the case that the price increase is only due to the increase in wages,” recalls Luc Vachon.
On the issue of the minimum wage, “an issue we always come back to because it relates to what we live in,” he believes wages for workers at all levels should rise significantly.
“How can a citizen earn a decent income earning just $14.25 an hour? The amount of $15 per hour was already required 5 years ago. With inflation rates like we’re seeing this year, you should be claiming a minimum of $18 per hour. In his opinion, a precise amount is not necessarily the path to follow, but the claim should be combined with the consumption index, so that the salary automatically increases with the years, “as the cost of the basket increases. The consumption of a family .
The tax challenge
If salary remains a perennial question, social protection issues will become a priority, says Luc Vachon. Especially those related to a fairer distribution of wealth.
“Every crisis has a side effect on the concentration of wealth, he illustrates. The pandemic has also had that impact, allowing some industries to get rich while others took a beating. There is no magic recipe for this: it takes a different tax system to ensure that wealth is better distributed in society. †
The fight against tax evasion and corporate tax increases are projects that need to be tackled quickly to enable everyone to get their fair share, emphasizes Luc Vachon. Certainly if we look at an element that is emerging as a result of the pandemic, namely the working conditions of vulnerable people.
“Servants and home help were briefly seen as essential jobs,” he says. Despite everything, their working conditions remain indecent. People who work in this field are often marginalized workers who live in insecurity. They must not be abandoned. †
As the population ages and this type of trade is destined to take up more space in the Quebec labor pool, the working conditions of all workers in the province remain a major concern, “to be borne in mind with the 1er can “.