Labour still fighting for workers

NANAIMO – Labour Day (Sept. 7) has its roots in the labour movement and unions are still fighting the fight for workers.

Labour Day (Sept. 7) has its roots in the labour movement and unions are still fighting the fight for workers, says a Nanaimo Duncan District Labour Council executive.

Ellen Oxman, council president, said there are a lot of similar issues now as in the past.

“Obviously, we’re looking for good union jobs and what that means are jobs that support families with benefits, and unfortunately, what’s been created over the last few years really are very precarious jobs: part-time, low paying, minimum wage, no benefits,” said Oxman.

“So as a worker, it’s extremely important what the benefit package adds to a family and their quality of life is tremendous and we look to unionized jobs to provide that sort of thing,” she said.

More businesses are shuttering their doors and materials are still processed “offshore instead of doing it ourselves,” said Oxman. Good jobs could be created for the local economy by changing the ways in which business is done, but there doesn’t seem to be an interest for that at the moment.

There is a downturn in the resource sector, Canada is in a recession and green technology may be the way to go, she said.

“Labour has had a campaign for many years about what they call blue-green jobs, so those are good jobs that help to protect the environment, promote different sources of energy and would benefit everyone,” said Oxman.

She said the potential for a green job sector exists everywhere, including Nanaimo.

“The opportunity’s there, I think it’s just the will to sort of make that shift, that we certainly would be promoting,” Oxman said.

Oxman said the council is celebrating its 25th anniversary and has evolved.

“We, like a lot of places, have raised our awareness about issues again, but we have gender equity, which is something that unions have fought for and achieved through collective bargaining and we like to make sure that we represent the people of the community that we serve,” she said.