Collective Bargaining in Canada: Human Rights or Canadian Illusion, Second Edition

Article excerpt

D. Fudge, Collective Bargaining in Canada: Human Rights or Canadian Illusion, second edition (Black Point: Fernwood Publishing, 2006), viii + 135pp. Paper. $17.95. ISBN 1-5526-6214-4.

Canada's labour movement has been on the defensive for a generation. Over the past twentyfive years, the federal government alone has passed thirteen pieces of back-to-work legislation while the provinces have enacted seventy-two back-to-work laws. In the pages of Collective Bargaining in Canada, readers will find a comprehensive overview of some of the nastiest pieces of anti-labour legislation produced in Canada. The book is a testament to the ultimate obstacle facing workers today: the labour movement itself.

Collective Bargaining in Canada is written for activists and the general public as part of a campaign led by the National Union of Public and General Employees and the United Food and Commercial Workers to encourage people to conceive of workers' rights as human rights. As an introduction to the conflict between the state and the labour movement, and a call-to-arms for workers and activists, the book is ideal. Derek Fudge begins with a brief history of the labour movement and collective bargaining in Canada. He then proceeds to list various legislative schemes, passed by each level of government since the 1980s, which have constrained workers' ability to strike and negotiate salaries, such as Bill 142 in Quebec, which imposed a settlement in 2003 on 500,000 public sector workers.

The booklet is laudably free of jargon and draws together several themes in the history of the labour movement. However, there are numerous omissions in the historical overview, including any references to socialism, general strikes or mass mobilisation as core tactics of the labour movement. …