Mr. ALISTAIR STEWART (Winnipeg North) :
I believe the workers of this
country are puzzled, dismayed and discouraged at the lack of a positive labour policy on the part of the government. We can remember that up to June 11 they had a policy-jobs, work for all, security for all. Where is that policy now? The workers at Windsor are without protection, and surely the most elementary protection for the workers in a democracy is the right to join the union of their own choice, the protection of union security, the closed shop, and the check-off. Yet these are being denied to them, and apparently the government does nothing about it. Well, I believe either the government's promises are going to be ful-
Ford Motor Plant Strike
filled, or their bluff is going to be called, because the insecurity of labour is becoming more and more obvious.
All across this country to-day men are being laid off; plants all over Canada are reducing their staffs. I draw to the attention of the house the fact that when a man is laid off or when he is on strike it is a very serious matter for that individual. There are few scourges worse than unemployment. When a man is unemployed he has no income. It is true that to-day he gets this miserly pittance of unemployment insurance, but that is far from adequate to pay his rent, it is far from adequate to provide food, including the dairy products which are so necessary to keep his children in health; it is far from adequate to provide medical services if they are needed; it is far from adequate in these days of approaching winter to see that the house is kept properly warm and that the children do not suffer. Always under strikes or mass unemployment it is the children who suffer most. Therefore I suggest that there is much validity to our case and to the union case that when the worker is being transferred from war-time to peace-time employment, during the period of transition he should be given a minimum of $25 a week. He and his family cannot expect to live on less.
Under capitalism as we have known it the lot of the worker has been unemployment, then work for a little time, then unemployment again. There is no security. In our lifetime we have gone through two wars and two major depressions, and the mass of the people have always suffered the worst. There are young men coming back to this country whose only chance in the nineteen thirties was the chance in 1939 to fight and die for Canada, These boys are coming back expecting something better than when they went away. They want a Canada wherein there is work for them, and some sort of union security, but apparently the government is unwilling to provide that type of security. In Winnipeg we have the case of MacDonald Brothers Aircraft plant, which at the peak of employment had 4,500 men employed. The number is now down to 400. What has happened to those 4,100 people? Some, though only a few, have got other jobs; some have left the province; the great majority are unemployed.
I want again to emphasize the fact that unemployment is a personal tragedy for those who suffer from it, and therefore, it is the duty of the government and this house to do everything within their power to ease con-
ditions for these people and see that the pledges are kept that there shall be work for all in Canada.
We are told that there are a million new jobs in sight. Where are they, and at what rates of pay? I believe that the "million new jobs" is a mirage. It does not delude the workers of this country. It is true that there may be a million new jobs, but if there are, they are at twenty-five cents an hour, and we are not going to take them at that wage.
The trade unions of Canada are far in advance of the government with plans for reconversion. The trades and labour congress have already presented their recommendations to this government. They have asked:
(1) That all citizens -who have been engaged in essential civilian industry be immediately allowed "reconversion pay" during this period of dislocation on a basis of one month's pay for each year's service up to three years;
(2) To spread available employment, a maximum forty-hour work week be put into effect, with no reduction in wages;
(3) To create confidence and maintain buying power, that general reductions of Pay be prohibited;
(4) That restrictions be lifted from building materials and that the construction of homes be carried on with the same effort, ingenuity and dispatch as was displayed in the production of urgently needed war materials;
(5) That necessary public works be immediately commenced; and
(6) That the reconversion of all war plants suitable to peace-time production be speeded to the utmost.
There, Mr. Speaker, is a programme. The workers of Canada have a programme. Where, then, is that of the government? In Winnipeg we have signs of another strike, a national strike, in the packing house industry. I was at a conference of packing house workers a few days ago. These men appreciate the problems of industry and the problems of the national economy; they only hope that the government appreciates them in exactly the same way. The question of income tax was discussed by these workers. They had no objection to high rates of income tax provided they were sure that their fellow workers were getting jobs. They discussed rationing. They had no objection to rationing; they encouraged it in order to feed the starving people of Europe, though they disagreed in many respects with the way the government was handling it, but that is another matter. If the government are to be sure of getting the support of the working people of this country, they have to support-
Subtopic: EXTERNAL AFFAIRS