Canada’s trade unions deepen corporatist alliance with government during NAFTA talks
15 September 2018
As Canada and the United States enter the final stages of bitter negotiations over a revised North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the role of Canada’s union bureaucracy as a key partner of Canada’s big business Liberal government is becoming ever clearer. While stoking reactionary Canadian nationalism and boasting of their role as official government advisers during the NAFTA talks, leading union bureaucrats are pulling out all the stops to prevent an eruption of the class struggle.
“I can’t think of any (previous) trade agreement, ever, where labour has played any sort of an active role,” blustered Unifor President Jerry Dias in a CBC interview last week in which he boasted about the unions’ high-level access to government officials, including Liberal ministers. “NAFTA has been a game-changer for the labour movement and how working class people are treated as it relates to trade.”
Apart from Dias’ thoroughly cynical invocation of the working class, upon whom he and his fellow union bureaucrats have for decades been imposing wage cuts and other givebacks at the behest of corporate management, the Unifor president’s comment contains a grain of truth. The “game changer” has been that the union bureaucracy’s long-standing corporatist alliance with the government and big business has dramatically expanded over the past year, with Dias and Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) head Hassan Yussuff accompanying the Liberal government’s negotiating team to Washington and Mexico City.
The CLC president is a member of the government’s blue-ribbon NAFTA Advisory Council, while Dias and other bureaucrats are acting as unofficial…