March 28, 1945

LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

I think I should say that is the very thing they did not want.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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CCF
LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

Labour-a price ceiling clamped on to ability to pay. If you had a ceiling there, with ability to pay, the employees would not have a chance.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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CCF

Clarence Gillis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. GILLIS:

I am not talking about a price ceiling but wage rates.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

If it were based on ability to pay, I question very much whether the national board would have granted an increase in wmges to the miners as they have done.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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CCF

Clarence Gillis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. GILLIS:

If you want to open up that field-

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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LIB
CCF

Clarence Gillis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. GILLIS:

I understand that to-day, so far as industry is concerned-and it applies to practically every industry in Canada-wages have come out of the treasury of the country. Everyone who has something to sell in the country has been subsidized.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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LIB
CCF

Clarence Gillis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. GILLIS:

You can "oh, no," as much as you like, but when the minister Itries to make a comparison between this war and the last, saying that in the last war prices were so and so, did he ever look at the tax structure in the last war as compared with this war? That is not a criterion. Things that happened in the last war are in the past. Take the Dominion Steel and Coal company's figures released by themselves. I question them very much, and until there is an impartial analysis of their ability to pay, the minister does not know, and I do not know, whether we are doing right or wrong in subsidizing that industry. There is a commission now probing that question.

In the application of the wage order I think those tw,o words are being taken advantage of at the present time. The hon. member for Vancouver East and I have pointed out that in one or two of the decisions made the interpretation placed on the wording by the board was that there must be a flagrant discrepancy in the wages as compared with other industries. I know there have to be wage controls; I am not quarreling with that, and perhaps some will be necessary in the immediate post-war just as they were necessary during the war. I am not accepting every theory that I hear on inflation either, because the only time you hear the cry of inflation is when you start talking about raising the basic rates. Nobody squawks when you lift the ceiling on salaries. That is fine.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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LIB
CCF

Clarence Gillis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. GILLIS:

Nobody says very much

when profits of industries or earnings of banks show an increase from year to year. That is all fine. But any time you talk about putting five or ten cents on the wages of the average worker it is referred to as inflation; it is going to have inflationary effects. I know this is not the time to go into these theories.

Supply-Labour

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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LIB

James Lorimer Ilsley (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. ILSLEY:

The ceiling on salaries and

profits is much more severe than the ceiling on wages, deliberately made so.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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CCF

Clarence Gillis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. GILLIS:

You would not think so if

the figures that the government release from time to time are correct. I think the last figures that I saw showed that eighty per cent of the wage-earners across Canada were still in the income group of one thousand dollars. I am speaking of the average income. There should not be very much inflation there. You cannot buy very much on that kind of income.

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LIB
CCF

Clarence Gillis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. GILLIS:

Those are the government's

own figures. The hon. member had better look them up. The trouble with most government members is that they do not read the government's figures.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

Let me say to my hon. friends that those figures have to be broken down. The over-all figure of eighty per cent earning less than $1,000 a year includes everybody, apprentices and right down the line. When I make this observation I say to my hon. friend that I do not take second place to anyone in this country in the feeling that the workingman should get what is coming to him, but it is hardly fair to make a bald statement like that without breaking the figures down. I know something about the figures the hon. member is speaking about.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. GILLIS:

That is the way they were

put out. I am not breaking them down. That is the way I saw the figures. They were government figures. There should not be any danger of inflation with that kind of spending power. I merely suggest to the minister that the time has come to do something about it. I shall not take up the time of the committee to put on the record the opinions of labour organizations of the country. If they were investigated it would be found that they are demanding or clamouring for an opportunity to sit in with the government and revise this particular wage order. I could tell the minister quite a story about the last wage negotiations of the mine workers. The war labour board has usurped the bargaining rights of the unions. An appeal is made to them; they make a decision; there is no appeal from it and the union stops functioning. There should be some way of going back to conciliation, placing the board in the position of the employer and for it to make a decision that could stand up before an impartial referee. There are many changes that could be made which would be beneficial. I merely suggest that at some time or another the minister should

get together with those who are responsible to the labour organizations across Canada and try to have some adjustments.

The next thing that I am concerned about is P.C. 1003. When that order was passed the Prime Minister announced to the house that he was selecting an eminent person from the legal profession and placing in his hands the authority and responsibility of drafting labour jurisprudence for Canada, bring the rule of law within the trades union movement. We heard a lot about the rule of law in international affairs in the last few days. The board held meetings across the country, probed opinions from all directions and finally sat down and wrote two reports, a majority and a minority report. Then that eminent person resigned, went back to his profession and became one of the leaders of the Tory party. I hope he does not wind up in San Francisco.

When order in council P.C. 1003 was brought down it was a step in the right direction. When it was tabled in the house some of the hon. members of this group pointed out that there were two or three things wrong with it. First, it did not outlaw company unions, and I definitely believe it should have done so. Second, when union certification is arrived at, instead of the union being certified as the bargaining agency it is the representative of the union that is certified. In the application of the code unions have found themselves in this position. They had an agent who was working for them. Something happened; either he took sick or moved away, and according to the code the employer had the right to say that another representative from the same union should have the right to sit in and bargain for the employees in that particular organization. I think the wording there is ambiguous. It should definitely state union certification rather than the certification of a representative.

Within the last few weeks there has been a new trend in the application of the code. Unorganized people desiring to become members of a union make application to the board. The board has taken the attitude that before they will direct a vote to be taken in a plant to determine the bargaining agency the union must show a paid-up membership of at least fifty per cent of the employees in the plant. That is an impossibility, and it completely defeats the purpose for which the code was intended. I ask the minister to check that, because a test of any legislation is its application, the people who are administering it, the way it is to work, and so on. The personnel administering it has a lot to do with it. I do not think anybody who drafted it ever intended it to work in that way. I think it should be corrected. When application is made by

Supply-Labour

the employees of a plant the only fair way to determine the percentage of those desiring to become members of that union is to take a free vote properly supervised. When that vote is taken, if the majority in the plant favour union certification it should be gone ahead with. That is something that should be corrected immediately. One could take a long time on this aspect of P.C, 1003, but I believe these are two things that should be corrected. The whole purpose of P.C. 1003 was to provide for collective bargaining.

May I be permitted to say one word with respect to selective service. I am interested in selective service because I think it is going to be one of our most important peace-time organizations; the regulation of employment, the reversing of the machinery of induction into the service. There are well-trained personnel there. They have learned something about the job. There is one defect in the machinery. Selective service has the right to direct an employee to an employer, but there is no obligation on the part of the employer to accept that employee. I think that should be corrected. If the legal machinery provided by the government in the employment field has the right to tell me where I should go to work, then the employer should be obligated to accept me when I get there. I cannot refuse. If I refuse I am out. If I happen to be the recipient of unemployment insurance and I refuse employment I lose my unemployment insurance. But I have had case after case-and it is becoming tense in the mining districts, where there is no heavy employment-of employers not wanting to take men back from the service because they are not one hundred per cent fit. I think the machinery should be tightened up. Surely if you have the right to direct me, the employer should not have the right to refuse me. That is all I have to say, but I would suggest that the minister check up these two or three points, not because I have mentioned them, but because they 'are being said by those who are directly interested and employed by the labour movements.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

I thank my hon. friend for the suggestions he has made, particularly those with regard to selective service. That is an aspect which never occurred to me; but I hope I will live to see the day, in the not very distant future, when there will not be any direction at all.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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CCF

Clarence Gillis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. GILLIS:

I do not think you will ever see it.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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March 28, 1945