August 30, 1950

MAINTENANCE OF RAILWAY OPERATION ACT

PROVISION FOR RESUMPTION OF RAILWAY OPERATIONS AND SETTLEMENT OF LABOUR DISPUTE


The house resumed, from Tuesday, August 29, consideration of the motion of Mr. St. Laurent for the second reading of Bill No. 1, to provide for the resumption of operations of railways and for the settlement of the existing dispute with respect to terms and conditions of employment between railway companies and their employees.


PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. George A. Drew (Leader of the Opposition):

Mr. Speaker, there is a very real consciousness in every part of this house, as I believe there is in every part of Canada, that we are met here to deal with the most serious situation of its particular kind that has ever confronted the parliament of Canada. It is a problem which must be tackled with speed, frankness and good will. As has already been said, it will not be solved by a display of heat. It should also be said that it will not be solved satisfactorily unless there is the most complete frankness in the discussion of the problem and in the examination of the legal effect and implications of the bill we are asked to adopt.

I am certain that every member of the house is equally anxious to take such just and proper steps as are necessary to assure the resumption of rail services throughout Canada at the earliest possible moment. On the other hand, we must examine the bill with a full sense of our great responsibility to the people of Canada, and with a very keen appreciation of the danger which inevitably exists that, in the most earnest desire to act with speed in the face of an emergency, faulty legislation may sometimes be adopted because of general agreement as to the purpose of the measure. I hope that in our discussion no member who fulfils his bounden duty as a representative of his own constituency and of the people of Canada will be exposed at any time to the suggestion that in so doing he indicates any desire to delay the earliest possible solution of this most urgent problem.

Any attempt-and I am not suggesting that any would be made-to restrain the frankest and fullest discussion of the bill, and the circumstances which make it necessary, by indicating that criticism is based upon a desire to delay a solution, would in itself be a challenge to that parliamentary freedom which we should most jealously protect at this particular time. I think it is impossible to overemphasize the gravity of the situation. From the Atlantic to the Pacific the normal movement of our natural products, our goods, machinery, industrial production and the daily requirements of the people in all the homes of this country, is at a standstill. In British Columbia, Vancouver island is almost completely isolated from the mainland, except for the airlift which has been established. Fruit growers, farmers, workers in the forests, fishermen and all others are being seriously affected, and those effects become more extensive every day. So it is on the mainland of that great province. Mines, factories and other operations upon which the employment of thousands of people depend have been forced to close.

The prairie provinces face a very special problem. There they see the danger of not being able to deal with their great wheat crop unless this problem is settled immediately. Nor is that the only special problem they have there, where distances make communication and transport by bus and car more difficult than in the more concentrated centres of population. In Alberta hundreds of oil wells already have been closed, causing not only a loss of fuel supplies but also of employment. In Ontario many of the largest industries are shut down, with resulting loss of employment to thousands of men and women. Farmers are unable to ship their products, and some of the finest crops in the history of this province are going to waste. In Quebec the same situation exists. As in Ontario, the great pulp and paper .mills are having immense difficulty in carrying on that business upon which so much of the economy of this country depends, as well as the employment of thousands of people.

In the maritimes there is severe disruption of normal activities because of the substantial dependence of so many places in those provinces upon rail service. Prince Edward

Maintenance of Railway Operation Act those railway organizations that same good will and co-operation which has existed in the past.

I am sure that the people of Canada want the railway workers 'to be adequately rewarded for the work they do, and to work under satisfactory conditions and with satisfactory working hours. As has already been said, no country in the world is more dependent upon its railways for its very existence than is Canada. We would not today be sitting here as representatives of one great nation occupying a subcontinent were it not for the promise of the construction of the intercolonial railway, for the assurance of railway connection with Prince Edward Island, and for all the services that were incidental to the main lines of the railways themselves. Neither would that original concept of confederation have been extended across this land from Newfoundland to the most remote part of British Columbia, had it not been for those great transcontinental railways which were extended to the west. They are the vital arteries which carry the lifeblood of our nation. Not only must those arteries be protected; not only must they continue at all times to function, but at the same time they must be in a healthy condition to undertake the task they perform.

Without attempting in any way to assess the merits of issues which must be decided elsewhere, I am sure that the view shared by the railway workers as well as by the people of Canada generally is that this must not happen again. I am perfectly sure that the railway workers have no more desire to find themselves affected by a situation of this kind than have other Canadians. Certainly all Canadians wish to see those steps taken which will mean that we shall not again be confronted with this procedure in the face of a crisis.

The bill before us is one which as yet we have had but little time to consider.' It reflects the very way in which the bill was drawn that it was seen for the first time by the members of the house only last night at eight o'clock. That did not give the members an opportunity to deal with the bill in a way that might have been desirable. On the other hand, we all recognize that consideration of the measure must proceed as rapidly as possible. The legislation before us reflects the fact that amendments were still being made to the bill as 'recently as yesterday. We must therefore carefully examine its contents.

The bill itself does provide a way in which work on the railways can be resumed. That is the main desire of everyone here. After the recitals and the name given to the bill,

there is the important provision that the railways shall resume operation and the workers shall return to their duties within forty-eight hours of this bill becoming effective. Then in section 3 the bill goes on to deal at least partly with one of the points in issue. Section 4 simply provides certain legal assurances that the agreements will continue in effect. Section 5 is one which I am sure must have caused surprise to most members of this house when they read it. Section 5 definitely and without any reservation provides for compulsory arbitration. There are many who believe in that procedure, and it is a view that everyone has a right to share and to express. But compulsory arbitration, which is a principle that has not been regarded as acceptable in labour legislation in this country, is not something which, it seems to me, should be suddenly introduced in dealing with an emergency of this kind. It can be said, and it has been said, that this is not compulsory arbitration in the ordinary meaning of those words. I must confess that I do not understand the reservation.

The arbitrator is to be appointed by the government unless there has been settlement by the parties to the dispute within fifteen days or an arbitrator has been appointed by agreement within that time. Then that arbitrator is to have authority to examine the issue in dispute and to make his findings. Those findings are not only to be binding upon the parties, but the parties are ordered by the bill itself to conclude a new collective bargaining agreement in accordance with the findings of the arbitrator.

There is no time limit on the length of the agreement. It may well be that the government knows that some additional terms have been agreed upon. If they have been, then I think they should be indicated to this house. But if this legislation is simply a statutory interpretation of a conditional agreement which is to be implemented by this bill, I think we should know that as well; because if it is not, then it is difficult to understand the inclusion of some provisions and the exclusion of others.

After examining this bill very carefully it does seem to me that it is drafted on the assumption that the arbitration provisions of section 5 are not going to be invoked. I cannot imagine anything more likely to create the very kind of situation that none of us would desire than to find that it had become necessary for the government to appoint an arbitrator to act under the wide, unlimited and unrestrained powers contained in section 5. It is not enough to say that no arbitrator would do certain things. Under that section an arbitrator can say that the

the majority of the members. The government must bear a grave measure of responsibility for this strike. There is a reason why this is the first general strike of this kind in Canada's history. The reason was indicated during the recital of events given to the house last night by the Minister of Labour (Mr. Gregg). This is not the first time that the railway workers have failed to accept the decision of a conciliation board. It is not the first time that the workers and management have failed to reach agreement in the negotiations which have taken place prior to the date set for a strike.

The reason why there has been no previous strike of this kind, and of this extent, is quite clear. It is clear from the pattern which has been established throughout the years. The reason, is that at a certain point in the negotiations the government intervened to find a solution; that is what happened in 1948 and on other occasions. The workers and the people of Canada have all come to expect government action to avoid a strike in a situation of this kind. Last night the Prime Minister said that no one expected this strike. I submit, Mr. Speaker, that it was the duty of the government to act with recognition of the fact that there might be a strike. It no more indicates the early expectation of a strike to prepare for one than it indicates the early expectation of death to take the precaution of making a will in plenty of time before you die. This would have been a sound and wise act on the part of the government.

There was an indication that at least one department did take the sound course, because the Postmaster General (Mr. Rinfret) took steps that were appropriate to prepare the Post Office Department for a strike, and as a result the Post Office Department since the strike was called has taken extraordinary measures to maintain its service. I am glad that hon. members on the other side of the house applaud that statement, because it would have been a commendable thing if the rest of the government had followed precisely the same course. Whether or not this system of settling such disputes is wise; whether or not the past record of settlement is one which the government as at present constituted approves, the fact remains that the public generally, and apparently the government as well, expected a solution right up to the last moment. After all, practice establishes precedents. If the government did not intend to intervene as it did on earlier occasions, it should have indicated that to the parties to this dispute, and to the people of Canada so that they would have been prepared for this situation.

Maintenance of Railway Operation Act

What is more, if the government held the view that it now holds, that it is not possible to contemplate paralysis of this kind in the nation's economy, then the time to take the appropriate steps to prevent that paralysis was well in advance of any possibility of a strike, so that the workers, management, and the people of Canada would know what the situation would be. After all, this strike did not suddenly emerge as a surprise to the people of Canada beyond the fact that the strike actually took place. The government well knew, as all Canadians who carefully followed the press knew, that strike ballots had gone out early in June. This house was sitting in June, and sat for three weeks after it was known that the strike ballots had gone out. If it was the intention of the government to depart from the practice which it had established, then at that time we could have given this matter careful consideration and sat as long as was necessary to deal with it in a quiet, cool and orderly way. To suggest that there was no occasion to consider such a possibility simply means that the government was assuming this problem could be settled in a different manner from that in which it had been settled in the past, unless the government was prepared to intervene.

The people of Canada as a whole are those to whom we owe our first responsibility. But let us also remember this. We are not dealing with a situation created by people who have any desire to wreck or destroy the economy of the country in which they live. There is no Canadian who does not recall the loyal and magnificent service given to this country by the railway workers during the years of war. There is no Canadian who is not aware of the co-operation and good will that has existed within the great railway organizations of this country, which have been held before the people of Canada as a model of what labour-management relations should be. In this case we are not dealing with all the railway workers of Canada. This strike does not involve the running trades. It does involve the other workers in the railways who are in a different category. These people love their country; they are loyal to it and will serve it in any way, as much as any one of us in this house will do. Recognizing our paramount duty to the people of Canada, and making it perfectly clear that the daily home life of our people must not be undermined by a dislocation of vital services and the paralysis of transportation throughout the country, I submit that in finding a solution it will be in the best interests of every Canadian if we do so in a way that will, in the years ahead, maintain within

28 HOUSE OF

Maintenance of Railway Operation Act Island is almost isolated from the mainland because the great railway ferry can only operate by permission of those representing the unions. Special hardships also are being felt in Newfoundland. Everywhere throughout Canada the people face mounting difficulties and realize that if this disruption of service continues much longer we face a disaster almost beyond imagination.

It is essential that for the very security of the home life of our people action be taken without delay. Every member of this house can multiply many times the instances to which I have referred, from his own experience in that part of the country in which he lives. Just to emphasize how serious this is, may I point out that at this very time the special United Nations force has been divided into three different groups, which for a time could not be brought together by rail and for which much of the heavy equipment required could not be supplied. That is a situation we cannot regard with equanimity at a time like this, when the very survival of our way of life is threatened throughout the world.

Our first duty, which should be discharged without delay, is to take such steps as are necessary to restore these vital services to the people of Canada, with justice to all Canadians-and I repeat, to all Canadians. It is not possible for us, meeting hastily as we have done, to pass judgment upon the issues which have precipitated this disastrous situation. What the people of Canada want us to do is get the railways working as quickly as possible. I believe that is the spirit of every member of this house. Collectively those who sit here represent all the people of Canada. It makes no difference what party we support in our own community; we represent all the people. Therefore we here have the great and proud and heavy responsibility of speaking for all Canadians. The well-being and security of the whole Canadian community is our supreme responsibility. When the wellbeing of the people of Canada is threatened in this or any other way, parliament, and the government, which is its executive branch, must take those steps which will preserve the national economy and the security of the home life of all our people.

In meeting that obligation, however, it is imperative that we should protect the general welfare of the nation without destroying the established and fundamental rights of any part of the community. Admittedly that is a difficult task. If it were not a difficult task we should not be meeting here today. The very urgency of the situation, the gravity of the problem we are called upon to face, require careful and at the same time prompt action by this house. It need hardly be

repeated that this is the highest court of the land. It is the supreme authority of the Canadian people, supported by the democratic vote and decision of those people. Denunciation here of one side or the other in this dispute would only contribute to the difficulty of settling it. It is extremely important that we all remember that adoption of the legislation we are called upon to pass in this special session will not settle the dispute. That is merely a preliminary step. Its one vitally important result will be to start the railways operating again. We must all bear in mind, however, that in taking steps to have the railways operate again we must do nothing that will make it more difficult to settle this dispute and establish that measure of cooperation and good will within the railway organizations themselves upon which the efficiency of that vast service depends.

It seems to me that recognition of this factor is essential in considering the legislation with which we must deal. Our first consideration is clear; that is our responsibility to the people of Canada. However, we also have the responsibility of making sure that those traditional rights upon which our society has grown and become strong are not impaired, regardless of the urgency of the situation, by any hasty action on our part, no matter how necessary haste may be in dealing with the matter. As we consider legislation to bring to an end this disastrous situation, I believe it would be very unwise and seriously prejudicial to the best interests of all our people if we attempted to pass judgment upon issues which must still be settled after that legislation is passed. So this matter should be dealt with in a way that will facilitate the settlement of these issues, not only in the interests of those directly concerned but in the interests of the whole nation. I believe that the welfare of Canadians generally will be best served if, no matter what our opinions may be, we reserve expressed judgment until those who have the responsibility of making further decisions are able to reach those decisions coolly and calmly after this first step has been taken. I think it is desirable that all of us bear this in mind. I hope that the people whom we represent will also bear in mind the obvious and important reason why we here in this house do not seek today to pass judgment at a time when we shall be called upon to refer the responsibility of settlement to others.

Having Said that, I think it is appropriate to make certain comments about the legislation itself, and also about the responsibility of the government, which after all is merely the executive branch of this house and under our principles of responsible government must at all times act in accordance with the advice of

agreement would be for twenty-five years; under it the arbitrator can fix any hours of work; under it he can fix any hourly wage; he can fix any working conditions he sees fit, and there is nothing to define his responsibility in that respect; management and the workers must accept the decision, and it is binding. Compulsory arbitration! That is a moderate term. I do not believe that any legislative body in this country, federal or provincial, would ever in its cool and calm senses consider for a moment the introduction of compulsory arbitration of this kind with no definition of the terms under which it was to be carried out.

This bill is far from complete. I heard a description of the bill over the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation network at eight o'clock this morning. In that description the broadcaster said: "The emergency bill does not contain penalties for failure to obey its provisions."

Topic:   MAINTENANCE OF RAILWAY OPERATION ACT
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR RESUMPTION OF RAILWAY OPERATIONS AND SETTLEMENT OF LABOUR DISPUTE
Permalink
?

An hon. Member:

That is to laugh.

Topic:   MAINTENANCE OF RAILWAY OPERATION ACT
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR RESUMPTION OF RAILWAY OPERATIONS AND SETTLEMENT OF LABOUR DISPUTE
Permalink
PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

That was a logical conclusion for the broadcaster to draw, but it is not correct, because there are powerful penalties which are automatic, without being written into the bill. I hope that everyone who is called upon to consider this bill will recognize that when a bill passed by this parliament or by any legislature of Canada calls upon anyone to do a particular thing, there is a section of the Criminal Code which imposes penalties if the bill itself does not do so. Let me read section 164 of the Criminal Code:

Every one is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to one year's imprisonment who. without lawful excuse, disobeys any act of the parliament of Canada or of any legislature in Canada by wilfully doing any act which it forbids, or omitting to do any act which it requires to be done, unless some penalty or other mode of punishment is expressly provided by law.

That is an unwritten but effective part of this bill. Also the question would arise as to what would happen if the arbitrator brought in findings that were not acceptable to either side in the dispute. Would there be any opportunity to deal with this problem? Would the men be denied the right to strike? Would management be precluded from dealing in any way with the matter? It would appear that they would be, unless they simply decided that they would take action anyway. That is something, too, that we should very carefully consider.

There is another point that should be borne in mind. Section 2 of the bill calls for the resumption of operation by the railways within forty-eight hours, and the return of the workers to work within forty-eight hours. Once the movement is resumed, once the men

30, 1950 29

Maintenance of Railway Operation Act have returned to work, section 2 has been complied with. It contains no continuing authority; therefore the people of Canada, the workers and others, must simply rely upon the hope that everyone will observe the agreements which have been made as a result of the arbitration, whether they are acceptable or not.

It is almost unthinkable, Mr. Speaker, that this bill would have been presented to the house in its present form unless it is known now to a considerable extent what will be done under it. But the fact that there may be a feeling of confidence that certain things will be done is no reason why we should blind ourselves to the consequences of what may happen if such an agreement is not carried into effect.

This is not the only way that this subject could have been dealt with. It could have been dealt with in many other ways. We all recognize that whatever method is adopted now must be for the purpose of meeting the emergency itself. But this bill must be examined on its face and not on what the government expects to happen without the knowledge of the house and the people of Canada. I am not saying that there is such knowledge. I am only saying that if there is any such knowledge, then we must examine this bill on its face and examine it in that way.

The draftsmanship reflects the haste. When the house met yesterday afternoon and first reading was given to the bill, it was stated that I, as leader of the opposition, and the leaders of the other parties in the house, would receive a copy of the bill. I received mine just before six o'clock, and I feel sure that the others received theirs at the same time.

Hon. members generally received it at eight o'clock when we met. That was not the result of any technical difficulty in printing; it was due to the fact that the government was still making up its mind what it was going to do. It was a good thing that it tried to make up its mind before we actually dealt with the bill. But it does indicate that we should examine it very carefully now, and that we should not submit to any suggestion that just because we want this strike settled at the earliest possible moment we must vote for any piece of legislation, no matter how bad it is. This is part of a problem very much larger than the one immediately before us. This is part and parcel of the whole problem of the supervision of our railways by the government. AH that it is necessary to do is to go back through the chronology of

Maintenance of Railway Operation Act disputes of this kina and of the various arguments that have taken place before the board *of transport commissioners throughout the past few years.

An application is made for an increase in wages. After conciliation boards have made their findings, one side or the other objects, the government finally makes a decision and a new agreement is completed, then the railways immediately apply for an increase in freight rates so that they may be able to carry on their operations in such a way as to reflect the increased wages. The moment those increases in freight rates are effective, in the very nature of things requests are made for further increases in wages-all a perfectly natural and human course of events.

These two things are closely associated; there can be no one here who is not fully aware of the fact that freight rates and wages are directly related, and that confusion in dealing with freight rates creates confusion in dealing with wages as well. What we do now is not going to provide a permanent solution; but a permanent solution must be found. As the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) said last night, we must not again find ourselves in a position where the economy of the country is paralysed, nor must we find ourselves in a position where the government is paralysed, for lack of adequate legislation. We could have had that legislation last June. The government saw fit to let this situation arise, and then to call parliament after the event had occurred. Now that we have met together, let us recognize the fact that if the proposal put forward by the Prime Minister is accepted by this House of Commons-that some solution must be found without a situation of this kind occurring, a solution which is just to the people of Canada and just to the workers-then this or any other bill we might introduce and consider here would not adequately deal with the situation with which we are confronted. It is our duty to find that wider and more effective solution.

I said that this was not the only way the situation could have been dealt with. The government of course is well aware of that, because it has dealt with problems of this kind, although not on this scale, in another way. Therefore I intend to move, and do move, seconded by the hon. member for Hamilton West (Mrs. Fairclough):

That Bill No. 1 be not now read the second time but that in the opinion of this house consideration should be given to a measure which would provide for the appointment of a national administrator to ensure immediate operation of the railways pending final solution of the dispute by the free process of collective bargaining.

I hope no one will make the suggestion that this would delay consideration of the

problem. I do not believe for one moment that the law officers of the crown have not given consideration to this particular procedure. I do not believe for one moment that they have not given consideration to employing this method instead of the method of compulsory arbitration. It would be unreasonable to believe that they have not, for the simple reason that they have employed it cn other occasions; and certainly this government would be the last to argue that a method which it supported with such strong arguments in the past is not a method which would be acceptable in dealing with a problem of this kind.

I am not proposing this as any long-term solution; I am proposing it as a means only of dealing with this particular problem-just as the bill now before us deals only with this particular problem. I am proposing that the provisions in regard to returning to work, and the other effective provisions of the bill, should be retained.

Hon. members know perfectly well that in the debate on second reading it is not possible to move an amendment deleting or varying certain sections. I wish to make it clear that we support that part of the bill which calls for the resumption of work within forty-eight hours both by the railways and by the men. And we support those other provisions which are not inimical to a long-term solution of this great problem in the best interests of the people of Canada.

It would be very simple for the government to strike out section 5 of the bill and to insert in lieu thereof a section which I have no doubt their law officers could produce in half an hour or an hour-and not drafted within that time, but produced from their files -and that we could then proceed to deal with this matter.

May I add that I and those associated with me want this matter dealt with at the earliest possible moment. I am proposing what I believe to be a method that would deal with this particular situation effectively and in the interests of the people of Canada, and also in a way that would make it possible to retain and preserve good will within a great organization vital to the welfare of the whole of Canada.

I am not suggesting-and I hope no one will say that the amendment produces this result-that the appointment of a national administrator is for any indefinite period. I am merely proposing that a national administrator be appointed until such time as the ordinary established processes can operate. The Prime Minister said last night that was what he wanted. The Minister of Labour (Mr. Gregg) said that was what he wanted. If they want that, then I urge that they adopt

this suggestion because it will preserve those methods and principles which are certainly not preserved by the measure now under consideration.

We could be dealing with this bill very shortly if the Prime Minister were to indicate his willingness to make that change, which merely constitutes an amendment. It may be said, and quite properly, that on second reading we deal with the principle of the bill. If the principle of the bill were only the resumption of the services of the railways, then I am certain every member of the house would vote for it without a moment's delay. If the principle were merely the restoration of those services which are so necessary to the home life of our people and the work of our whole country, then there would be no thought in anybody's mind of even raising any question, and I should think the bill would probably have been adopted by now. I sincerely hope that the Prime Minister will consider the seriousness of going ahead with the bill now before us. I hope he will accept the suggestion I have made, or, if he has a better one, make another suggestion; but I suggest that we sit continuously until the bill has become law. The matter is urgent, but nothing can ever be so urgent that in solving one problem we create grave problems of another kind, not only for the moment but for years to come.

This is a serious moment in the history of Canada. Because of the fact that we had no legislation to deal with such a situation; because of the fact that workers, management and the public were encouraged to believe, by statements emanating from Ottawa, that there would be a last minute solution, we find ourselves in a position in which the Prime Minister himself has said he did not expect we would find ourselves. Let us not take any chance of finding ourselves in that position again. The Prime Minister has enunciated the proposition that the economy of Canada must not be paralysed by events of this kind. When we have dealt with the bill, let us then proceed to deal with a method which will carry out that proposition coolly, calmly, and with consideration of the measure we have in mind. In the meantime the rights of every Canadian would be protected under the amendment I have moved. There would be no interference with the rights of any Canadian to the services of the railways. There would be no interference with the rights of the railway organizations and there would be no interference with those long established rights of the workers which have had a very considerable bearing on the measure of harmony that has existed in this country between management and labour throughout past years.

Maintenance of Railway Operation Act

We are sometimes inclined to exaggerate the number of disputes. If there is a strike, naturally it is noticed by everyone. What is often ignored is the vastly greater number of friendly and co-operative solutions that are reached by the system of collective bargaining that has been worked out through long years of trial and error. In finding a solution for this problem, let us not cxeate equally great problems for another day.

In a spirit of good will, and with a desire to bring into operation these vital arteries of the life of Canada as soon as possible, we can solve this problem in a way that will protect the rights of all our people, the rights of every part of our community, will continue the efficient operation of our great railways, and will be to the best advantage of the nation that we love.

Topic:   MAINTENANCE OF RAILWAY OPERATION ACT
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR RESUMPTION OF RAILWAY OPERATIONS AND SETTLEMENT OF LABOUR DISPUTE
Permalink
CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. M. J. Coldwell (Roseiown-Biggar):

Mr. Speaker, I am certain that every member of the house, regardless of where he sits, is anxious to see the immediate resumption of railway transportation services in Canada. The leader of the opposition (Mr. Drew) outlined the difficulties under which various producers are suffering at the present moment. Let me remark that not only the producers and every consumer in Canada are suffering from the great strike now in progress, but also every railroad employee involved in the strike. The loss of earnings to that great group of Canadian citizens is a serious one to every one of them. From what I know I am certain that the employees of the railroad system would be glad indeed to resume work tomorrow and operate our transportation services if they were assured that they would receive consideration at this time of what they regard as their just claims.

The situation in the house illustrates what we feared might happen if this matter were brought to the floor of parliament. We have a bill before us and we have an amendment moved by the leader of the opposition (Mr. Drew), both of which have to be carefully scrutinized in order to understand their implications. These two proposals, the bill and the amendment, mean that we are to be involved in a fairly prolonged debate. While we are debating in the house, the railway transportation system of Canada is not running. Producers, consumers and workers are alike denied the usual facilities, earnings and means of life which the railway transportation system brings to them.

A week ago today, the hon. member for Vancouver East (Mr. Maclnnis), who is sitting beside me, telephoned me from Vancouver and drew this very fact to my attention. He made the suggestion that I should get in touch with the Prime Minister (Mr. St.

32 HOUSE OF

Maintenance of Railway Operation Act Laurent), even though I always hesitate to do such a thing. We suggested to the Prime Minister last Wednesday that every attempt should be made to settle the strike before parliament met, because we expected that both the management of the railways and the workers would wait until the house had come to a decision before either resuming negotiations or attempting to come to an understanding regarding the resumption of traffic on our railroad system. As a matter of fact I suggested to the Prime Minister a procedure he subsequently followed, that of calling together the union heads in an attempt to get their minimum demands, calling together the management in order to get their maximum concessions, and then endeavouring to bridge the gap. The two groups were called together on Friday, but apparently an attempt to bridge the gap was not made. Negotiations were resumed, and when that was done, concessions were made by the negotiating committee on behalf of the unions. At 4.30 on Saturday afternoon there seemed to be considerable optimism, at least among the union representatives; and it was unpardonable that at 7.30 that evening, when they met after taking recess to clarify their positions, the president of the Canadian National Railways should have abruptly brought the negotiations to an end and prevented any possibility of arriving at an understanding before this house met. I say emphatically that no matter how much we thought Mr. Donald Gordon might contribute to the welfare of the Canadian National Railways and the Canadian people, as I did, by his earlier statement to the union leaders of a final offer and by his action last Saturday evening he has lost the confidence of the men, and I believe he will never regain it. I regret to say, in other words, that I believe his period of usefulness as president of the Canadian National Railways has come to an end.

I have given this brief recital because it is with a great deal of misgiving that I enter into this debate. I do not like this bill. When I read the preamble it led me to believe that, the railway companies and the bargaining agents of the employees having appeared to agree that existing wage rates should be increased and the forty-hour week introduced, the legislation would involve a settlement along those lines. Had I stopped at the preamble, or had the preamble of this bill constituted the law, I should say there was much to be said for what is contained in the preamble. As the leader of the opposition says, however, when you examine the bill itself it contains much more than appears on the surface. The rules that have been negotiated by the men over a long period of years, and which in no way enter into this wages and hours dispute, under this bill may be thrown

into the discussion. All matters which the railways or the men care to bring before an arbitrator, if one is appointed, may be the subject of new negotiations. Even a layman who knows very little about railway rules appreciates the fact that those rules have been agreed upon, having regard to the differing circumstances within the various railway systems, over long periods of years. An attempt was made by the railway management to introduce the rules as a bargaining point but, as I understand it, as late as last Friday that feature of the discussion was eliminated by the railway companies. They recognized the impossibility of reaching a speedy agreement in relation to the railway problem if those rules-and I give this only as an example-were thrown into this discussion.

As members of this house we must bear in mind that this bill, if adopted by parliament, of course will be very carefully scrutinized by the legal advisers of both sides. I have no doubt the legal advisers of the railway companies will take full advantage of every point in their favour contained in the bill now before us. Consequently it seems to me that instead of having before us a bill which will assist in bringing about the resumption of railway transportation services, and which will promote a better feeling in the industry so that we may not face interruptions of this kind again, in reality the bill will throw the fat in the fire, whatever the outcome of the strike, and we shall be plagued with difficulties all along the line for months and perhaps years to come.

Then, of course, there is the feature of compulsory arbitration, which has been emphasized by the leader of the opposition. In this democratic country we have built up a labour code, a way of doing things, which in the past has worked well. I believe that if more conciliation and a less dictatorial attitude had been shown by the railway managements,, collective bargaining would have achieved results and this strike would have been avoided weeks ago. But we are faced with this situation, and I must say that I believe the policy of the government ever since the end of the war, supported by a large majority in this house, is responsible for these disputes. The beneficial controls over our economy, which during the war worked well and prevented disputes of this kind, were hurriedly dispensed with. In the beginning when that was done the Minister of Finance told this house that he hoped and believed the cost of living would level off somewhere between 140 and 150; I think 145 was the figure he used at the time. Where is the cost of living now? It is over 167 as compared with the

base period, and still going up. Two groups of people are suffering primarily from this condition, both as producers and as consumers -the workers in industry and the producers on the land. The producers are paying more for their machinery, more for their supplies, more for their repairs. The workers are paying higher rents and higher prices for food and other supplies. They are the groups among the consumers who are most vitally interested in this transportation problem. Let me say that just as we fought and will continue to fight discriminatory freight rates, so also we fight substandard conditions for any of our workers in our transportation industry. We have no more right to ask producers in the maritime provinces, in British Columbia or in the prairie provinces to bear an undue share of the cost of transportation than we have to ask the lower paid men in the railway unions to bear an undue share of the cost of transportation.

There is a wide misunderstanding in the country-and I know this from my correspondence-regarding this strike. Many people are under the impression that the strikers are the more highly paid operating personnel of the railway; that is not so. The unions involved in this strike are the non-operating unions, covering the men who sweep out the cars, the men who handle the freight and express-what you might call the little people in our railway system. These are the peoole who are striking for a better standard*of living. When you compare their wages with those of employees doing comparable work in the same towns and cities, you find they are lower.

I believe this whole matter, Mr. Speaker, stems from the failure of the government to safeguard the Canadian people during this post-war period, and particularly do I say this in relation to the rapid inflationary increase in the cost of living. We cannot expect that any group of people will long suffer the disadvantages that the present situation has brought upon the groups I have mentioned. If we look at this bill we find that all it does, as I have said, is to provoke further discontent, and to provoke a fear that this compulsory feature will be taken as a precedent in the future. If these objectionable features of the bill were eliminated I believe the government would find that there would be substantial support for the resumption of railway services, and the reopening of negotiations from the basis which was reached last Saturday.

The bill does not contain any deadline for the commencement of the forty-hour week. As a matter of fact I believe it is generally known -I think the Prime Minister or the Minister of Labour (Mr. Gregg) mentioned it yesterday 69262-3

Maintenance of Railway Operation Act -that in that particular the difference between the negotiating parties last week was only a few months. We should remember that the railway men had come down many months from their original position as to when the forty-hour week should go into effect. The date the men wanted was June 1, 1951, and the railways suggested September 1, 1951. The bill does not say that the forty-hour week should go into effect at a date on or before September 1, 1951, the date furthest away. There is nothing in the bill to that effect, and it may mean nothing to the arbitrator. I believe the leader of the opposition is quite right in saying that clause 3 of the bill contains no real guarantee, except of a temporary nature, with regard to wages.

Again, with regard to the forty-hour week, the understanding is and was that if the forty-hour week came into effect-the railway management did not disagree with this-then the take-home pay should be the same. The bill now before the house 'contains no guarantee of that. Consequently no matter how much one may want to see the railways resume operations, every member of the house should scrutinize the bill and understand its implications. I suggest to the government that, having regard to the debate and the objections or suggestions that are made, it should give an undertaking that the objectionable features will be eliminated in the committee stage to enable hon. members to support what purports to be the purpose of the bill, namely, the resumption of railway transportation in this country. May I also repeat what I have said before: if we pass a bill for the resumption of railway transportation, if we do all the other things that will be expected of us to get the railways running, we shall not have solved the transportation problem in this country.

I believe that out of this meeting of parliament must come a consideration of the whole Canadian transportation problem. What we require in this country is a national transportation policy and a national transportation system, not necessarily entirely publicly owned. It should at least be a system which will integrate every form of transportation, and which will give fair and reasonable service at fair and reasonable rates to all parts of this country. At the same time it would enable the transportation system generally to earn a sufficient amount so that it would not have to pay substandard wages or charge any class of its customers in any area the discriminatory rates that we now see.

I am disappointed in this bill. On Monday night I thought we were going to get something from it. I thought that perhaps the Prime Minister, since he said in the house yesterday he had received a lot of advice,

Maintenance of Railway Operation Act had received good advice from people who would know what was in the minds not only of the public in Canada but of the workers generally. I was hoping that if that advice were given the effect of it might have been seen in this bill. Upon looking over the bill it seems that, if the advice was given, it was not taken, because I am quite sure that the provisions of this bill would not be approved by anyone in close touch with labour thinking in this country.

I do not want to delay the discussion of this measure. I want to conclude with this thought. This matter is of supreme importance to all the people of Canada. Some of us from the outset were most anxious that the matter should be settled in the traditional way, and speedily. Neither the railways nor the employees should have to wait for parliament to meet and discuss it. But once parliament was called, it was perhaps inevitable that railway management and workers would look to this parliament to find some solution of the problem. Consequently I think the solution has been delayed by this method of dealing with it.

I want to say again that I think the government must bear the responsibility for what has occurred and is occurring. Their whole economic policy has promoted the kind of atmosphere in which workers on the one hand and industry on the other are engaged in a struggle, the one to make its profits or to enhance them, and the other to maintain or to improve its standard of living. As long as that struggle continues, we are in something of a vicious circle, one price chasing the other all the way up.

I am not going to prolong the discussion further. Mr. Speaker, I think the house must give consideration to every feature of this bill and to what has been suggested by the official opposition, and must try to come to a decision which will bring about resumption of our railway services immediately and at the same time ensure that free collective bargaining and social justice will remain fundamental parts of our Canadian way of life.

Topic:   MAINTENANCE OF RAILWAY OPERATION ACT
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR RESUMPTION OF RAILWAY OPERATIONS AND SETTLEMENT OF LABOUR DISPUTE
Permalink

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

SITTING WITHOUT INTERMISSION UNTIL BILL NO. 1 DISPOSED OF

LIB

Louis Stephen St-Laurent (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Right Hon. L. S. St. Laurent (Prime Minister):

Mr. Speaker, before the hon. member for Peace River (Mr. Low) speaks, may I endeavour to get the sense of the house on the suggestion which has been made by the leader of the opposition (Mr. Drew) and the leader of the C.C.F. group (Mr. Coldwell) that there be no interruption of the session at one o'clock or at six o'clock today until this matter has been disposed of?

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   SITTING WITHOUT INTERMISSION UNTIL BILL NO. 1 DISPOSED OF
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   SITTING WITHOUT INTERMISSION UNTIL BILL NO. 1 DISPOSED OF
Permalink
LIB

Louis Stephen St-Laurent (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. St. Laurent:

If that is the desire of hon. members, I may say that I asked the Clerk to prepare the form of a motion which it would be necessary to pass in that regard; it is as follows:

That until Bill No. 1, an act to provide for the resumption of operations of railways and for the settlement of the existing dispute with respect to terms and conditions of employment between railway companies and their employees, has been disposed of, there shall be no interruption of the house this day at one o'clock or six o'clock p.m., notwithstanding the terms of any previous order of this house.

I do not think that hon. members would wish to commit themselves for more than this day, or be committed to a non-interruption if we get through by six o'clock; and that is covered by the terms of this motion. As this seems to represent the general desire of hon. members, I ask the unanimous consent of the house to put this motion, seconded by the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Howe).

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   SITTING WITHOUT INTERMISSION UNTIL BILL NO. 1 DISPOSED OF
Permalink
PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

May I ask if that implies that the Prime Minister accepts my amendment?

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   SITTING WITHOUT INTERMISSION UNTIL BILL NO. 1 DISPOSED OF
Permalink
LIB

Louis Stephen St-Laurent (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. St. Laurent:

No. I think it implies that there can be no serious consideration given by the government to the acceptance of the hon. member's amendment.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   SITTING WITHOUT INTERMISSION UNTIL BILL NO. 1 DISPOSED OF
Permalink

Motion agreed to.


MAINTENANCE OF RAILWAY OPERATION ACT

PROVISION FOR RESUMPTION OF RAILWAY OPERATIONS AND SETTLEMENT OF LABOUR DISPUTE


The house resumed consideration of the motion of Mr. St. Laurent for the second reading of Bill No. 1, to provide for the resumption of operations of railways and for the settlement of the existing dispute with respect to terms and conditions of employment between railway companies and their employees.


SC

Solon Earl Low

Social Credit

Mr. Solon E. Low (Peace River):

Maintenance of Railway Operation Act the greatest weakness of the bill that is now before us is that it does not give assurance that the government will immediately tackle and find a solution of this root problem that has caused so many strikes throughout the world and is now causing this one in Canada. We think that this is no time for recriminations, and we do not intend to follow that course in this debate, no matter how long it goes on. But we do feel that this is a time for serious and sober reflection. If this strike serves to open the eyes of the members of parliament and of the people of Canada to what is really happening, it will serve at least one good purpose.

One fact stands out above all others. The striking unions have not the sympathy of the consuming public generally, although it is recognized by all fair-minded people that .many or most of the employees concerned are underpaid in comparison to those in similar .employment elsewhere, and with that we must have sympathy. I think we all must admit ;that they have a good cause. Why, then, the widespread lack of sympathy for the workers' cause? Well, Mr. Speaker, one of the .outstanding reasons is that the consumers of Canada know from sad experience in the past that if the demands of the striking union are met it will immediately aggravate and increase what the strikers themselves declare to be the direct cause of the strike, namely, the increasing cost of living. This need not necessarily be the result, but it has been in the past, and there appears at this time to be no provision for preventing it in future-and I might say, too, no disposition on the part of officialdom to see that that result does not ensue.

What has really happened, of course, is that the purchasing power of the Canadian dollar has been allowed to decrease in a most alarming and largely unnecessary way. The blame for this serious shrinkage in the value of the dollar must be placed squarely upon the government of Canada; for they, under the constitution, carry the sole responsibility for national financial policy. As a matter of policy this government has allowed the value of Canadian money to decrease until men and women in all walks of life find it well-nigh impossible to buy the necessities of life and build for themselves a modicum of security for the future. In sheer desperation, then, workers who are organized often turn to strikes to secure increased pay and better conditions of labour. They are forced to do it. That seems to be their only recourse. But those workers who are not organized, and in fact all consumers, find themselves in the Squeeze between the upper and nether millstones.

If this terrible situation, which is the root cause of labour unrest and general fear and frustration over the whole nation, is to be remedied, it will require much more action than is provided for in this bill. The government and this parliament must find and apply an effective and just solution of the problem of the ever-increasing cost of living and the shrinking dollar. To reach such an objective, though, will require that we leave what have come to be the all-too-well trodden paths of financial and economic policies. It will take the best brains and the boldest efforts of both houses of parliament to devise the new policies. As soon as the emergency legislation has become law and our railways are operating again, we must give assurance to the railway employees and all Canadian consumers that action will be taken by the government to make the value of the Canadian dollar stable as the value of production itself in the sustenance of life. Nothing will go so far to dispense social justice to all men, or to satisfy and settle the minds of union labour, as putting a stop to the soaring cost of living.

I predict that if we do not apply a scientific stabilizer on prices and costs, this country will face ever-increasing labour management troubles; the future will hold an unbroken chain of disruptions, strikes and civil strife. We do not want that. There is, sir, right at our hands, a remedy for pyramiding living costs and inflated prices. At the proper time in this session-not now-and when the railway emergency has been settled, my group will outline in some detail the compensated price discount method of restoring the full value of our dollar, and at the same time of stabilizing the cost of living at a reasonable level. We will show how those urgent and most necessary things can be done without bureaucratic wage and arbitrary price controls that no worker and no Canadian consumer wants.

The time is late. This whole problem of railway labour disputes should have been considered by the government and the house weeks ago. But even at this late date I appeal to hon. members to bend all their efforts not only to ending the present impasse between railway management and labour, but also to finding a permanent remedy for the root causes of labour troubles, one that will give justice and fair treatment to all Canadians, regardless of their occupations. To accomplish less than this will be dereliction of duty on our part.

There are two alternatives open to the Canadian people to accomplish what I have suggested. One is to rise up in united demand that their government, the present government, find and apply an effective solution to

the consumer price problem-or put us into office and we will do the job. The people have their choice; and I have not heard from the official opposition today any solution of this great problem which lies at the very root of all our labour unrest and our strike difficulties.

Just a word about the amendment. I have not yet had time to give it consideration. In fact I have not yet even had a copy of it. I do not know why in the world the official opposition does not see to it that enough copies are made of their amendments so that we may have something to look at. I am not therefore in a position to say what we will do about it. But I heard it read, and it did strike me that it does not offer a solution at all. It seems to me the railways and the workers concerned have had free collective bargaining over a period of fourteen months, and that they have not come to any satisfactory conclusions. Furthermore, if the amendment were to carry, the workers would have no assurance whatever of any increase in pay to help them meet the increased cost of living at the present time. The bill certainly does provide at least a beginning of a solution in its provision for an increase of four cents an hour, as set out in one of its sections. Therefore I cannot say whether we shall be in a position to support the amendment until I have had a chance to study the matter further.

Topic:   MAINTENANCE OF RAILWAY OPERATION ACT
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR RESUMPTION OF RAILWAY OPERATIONS AND SETTLEMENT OF LABOUR DISPUTE
Permalink
CCF

Angus MacInnis

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

Mr. Angus Maclnnis (Vancouver East):

Mr. Speaker, in the few remarks I shall make at this time-and because of the urgency of the situation before us they will be few-I hope I can be clear. Certainly I shall endeavour to be brief.

We have before us a bill the purpose of which is to end the present stoppage of work on the railway transportation systems in Canada. With that purpose we are all agreed. As a matter of fact part of what I shall have to say will be in criticism of the government for its apparent lack of concern while the situation that led up to the strike was brewing, and of the lack of concern shown when the strike actually took place. The strike came into effect a week ago last Tuesday morning. So far as I have been able to learn from the radio and the press-the only means we had of knowing what the government intended to do-it was the government's intention not to do anything until parliament should meet a week later, and then, in the leisurely way parliament deals with these matters, to make provision for the ending of the strike.

I felt that that was not what was required in the circumstances. I felt also that, because

Maintenance of Railway Operation Act the government would be compelled to inject' itself into the dispute at some time, surely it should not let a week go by without doing anything. I could not get in touch with Ottawa by telegraph, which is the cheapest way and the one which appeals to me, so I took the next best means and by telephone got in touch with the leader of this group,-the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell). Before calling him I put my views in writing so that I could state them clearly and in the shortest possible time. I suggested to him that he should get in touch with the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) at once and ask him to call in the representatives of the labour unions and of the railway companies and put the matter before the labour unions in this way: "What are your minimum demands?" and then ask the employing companies: "What is' the maximum you will concede?" ->

Two days after the time I called, suggesting that the Prime Minister be communicated? with, he did call them in. But in my opinion he did not approach them with that sense of urgency the situation required. He told them,' "Now, try to get together to settle this matter." It seems to me he should have found out immediately what separated them, and then should have indicated what could be done to bridge the gap between them, if there was a gap. If that had been done 1 am satisfied that there would be no reason for this; bill; that the gap would have been bridged, because it was not very great, and when both parties were before the Prime Minister I am almost certain that they would be on theid best behaviour and it would be less.

There is another factor entering into this, matter which I must touch upon. The former minister of labour died. I should like to, have said something yesterday to express my own regrets at his passing, because,, though we sat on opposite sides of the house; for the greater part of the time he was here, we had a very close association and, may I say, friendship. The job of minister of labour is not an easy one; the portfolio is not one a person would ordinarily seek, because he is bound to be criticized, no matter what he does. There was one thing about the Hon. Humphrey Mitchell, the former minister of labour, which was of great importance: he knew labour matters, he knew labour men; he knew what was in their minds, and he also knew how to meet employers.

I have certainly nothing to say about the present Minister of Labour (Mr. Gregg), except that he is one of the finest men I know and did an excellent job in the portfolio he held prior to his present one. But surely

Maintenance of Railway Operation Act the government have among their ranks-I am sure they have, because I know them- men who know the labour movement, and who, holding the labour portfolio, could be effective in the present situation in a way that the present minister for obvious reasons cannot be. I say again that I hope he will not misunderstand me, because I have nothing but the very highest respect for him. It seems to me that on every score the government allowed this situation to drift when they should have known that sooner or later they would have to come into the picture. They have now come into it at the most difficult point for themselves and the country.

Let me review the facts leading up to the stoppage of work. The agreement under which the labour unions were working expired on the 16th of June, 1949. About that time they opened negotiations with the employing companies. I do not believe anyone can say that the labour unions did not make every effort to reach an agreement. It seems to me that there was a lot of quibbling on the part of the companies. I have had some experience in negotiating labour agreements. I have toeen a member of a union that has always worked under an agreement, and my experience has been that if a collective agreement expires on a certain date-let us say June 16, 1949

the new agreement comes into effect as from that date. There should be no question about the date on which certain parts of it should come into operation. There might be some question about when the five-day forty-hour week should come into operation, but surely there should be no question about the date on which any increase in wages granted under a new agreement should come into effect. It should come into effect on the day the old agreement expires and the new agreement begins. It is either that or the workers are working part of the time undpr an agreement and part of the time without an agreement at all.

Therefore I believe that the companies did not negotiate in good faith. If I had any doubts on that score, they were eliminated by the action of the companies when they ipet in this building after the dinner adjournment last Saturday. I was having dinner at the Lord Elgin hotel, and I met a number *of the employees' representatives there, not by design but they also happened to be dining there. They seemed to be very optimistic that an agreement was in sight. They hoped to be able to obviate any differences they had and to complete an agreement when they resumed their meeting at 7.30 that evening. When they met at 7.30 the discussions and negotiations that had been going on when they adjourned at 4.30 were

[Mr. MacInnisJ

not continued. They were met with a statement by the chairman of the Canadian National Railways that there was no reason for continuing in session any longer, as the companies had come to the conclusion that an agreement could not be arrived at. Not only that; but Mr. Gordon also had a typewritten statement prepared for the press. Therefore between 4.30 and 7.30, instead of discussing with the representatives of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company how near they could come to meeting the demands of the employees, he was discussing with them a statement to give to the press terminating negotiations. In- my opinion that amounts to double-crossing not only the workers but also the government of Canada. As a matter of fact it seems clear that the chairman of the Canadian National Railways did not bargain in good faith, but intended to place this matter in the lap of the government so that an arbitrator would be appointed.

I agree with everything my leader said about Mr. Gordon. I mix with workers. I have been at meetings of strike committees in my own city of Vancouver, and I have never known workers to be so incensed at the actions and attitude of their employers as the railway workers in my province are at Mr. Gordon. One of the things they cannot forgive is that when he came to speak to them he did not come in a conciliatory frame of mind and talk to them as man to man. He came and spoke to them as a man to children. He said, "You go on strike and you will live to regret it." The workers of this country, the members of the trade union movement of Canada, have got beyond the stage where any employer can come to them and tell them where their best interests lie and that if they differ with him they will live to regret it. I am satisfied that it will take a generation of good labour relations to undo the harm that has been done by the chairman of the Canadian National Railways in the short time that he has occupied that position.

Let us consider the bill. It definitely does two things. It orders the men back to work, and provides for the appointment of an arbitrator to arbitrate, as has already been mentioned, not only the question of wages and hours but everything in dispute. These definite provisions in the bill are of a coercive character. They are contrary to past government policy in the matter of labour relations policy which was reiterated as recently as June of this year at the conference of the international labour organization in Geneva; and they also put into effect a policy that is repugnant to free labour everywhere. The point has been made that this bill deals only with a particular situation and does not affect

our industrial relations act. Nevertheless the workers are fearful-and I believe they have every reason to be-that if this bill passes, employers will take it as a precedent and that whenever workers make demands there will be no further bargaining in good faith because employers will expect the government to make the same provision for them; that is, an arbitrator will be appointed and then it will be left to one man to decide what the workers are entitled to.

There are in Canada some excellent men for arbitration work. There are also some men appointed as arbitrators who do not understand the needs of the workers, who think in terms of labour as a commodity. They forget or cannot understand that the commodity cannot be separated from the human beings who deliver it

human beings with aspirations, with hopes, with families to feed and educate. They do not understand those things; they do not think of labour as man, in all respects like themselves. They think only in terms of the least amount on which labour can continue to labour and reproduce its kind. It is with men of that kind, acting as arbitrators, that members of the trade unions are afraid they may have to deal.

I have not had much time to consider the amendment, but I will say that it would get our transportation system in operation quickly, and also that it has been tried before. Controllers have been appointed at various times, and so far as I know have done a very good job. What position I shall take when the amendment comes to a vote will be decided after I have had time to give it further study; but, as I have said, I believe it has much to commend it. If only for the sake of getting the roads operating at once and getting the principle of free collective bargaining into operation again I should be glad to go a long way indeed.

One could say much more, but let me conclude with this. As yet no one has said that the demands of the railway employees are unreasonable. Both the Canadian Pacific and Canadian National are now operating under the five-day forty-hour week on their lines in the United States; and those lines have not gone bankrupt. As a matter of fact their net profits this year are much greater than they were before those hours went into effect, and instead of being greatly increased the number of employees is somewhat less than before the forty-hour week went into operation. So there is not very much in the argument that they cannot meet the cost. But let us not forget that the railroads of Canada were given two, if not three, increases in freight rates recently, and that their financial position in 1950 is much better than it

Maintenance of Railway Operation Act was in 1949. I am not going to take the trouble to give the figures at the moment, but they are on record and may be seen by anyone who cares to look.

Let me repeat that the issue here is the question of compulsion, of putting into the hands of one man the power to determine the living conditions of hundreds of thousands of men; and to that I am opposed.

Topic:   MAINTENANCE OF RAILWAY OPERATION ACT
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR RESUMPTION OF RAILWAY OPERATIONS AND SETTLEMENT OF LABOUR DISPUTE
Permalink

August 30, 1950