So, if governments don’t need to interfere with collective bargaining to save costs, because they can just limit budgets accordingly, then why don’t they just do that? The problem, I think, is political.
The reality is that setting limited budgets, really means making cuts to the public sector. And I gather that is usually politically unpopular, or at least controversial. Oh no, your opponents will criticize you.
Good. It would mean that you would have to be honest with the public – we are in a financial crisis, and so we have to make cuts to the public services we provide. I realize that it will always make some people unhappy. Oh well. You’re a politician. You must be used to that. Besides, at least then the measures would affect the public generally, and it really would be “all hands on deck.” Oh, but selling it to the public takes work? Too bad.
If, on the other hand, you weren’t really in a financial crisis (cough, cough, Brian), then I expect, the savvy politician wouldn’t even bother trying. After all, you’d be saying – I’m cutting public services to save money even though we don’t need to. We just want to cut, cut, cut because we feel like it. Ok-a-a-y, but maybe you should have mentioned that before we elected you.
It’s even worse here, because once all the economic dust settled, we found out that the only reason that the Pallister Government wanted to cut labour costs was so that they could reduce taxes. They cut the PST, and they cut income taxes. So, they didn’t need to save money, they just wanted to, so that they could keep their campaign promises and be tax heroes.
Again, I’ve got no sympathy for you people. If you couldn’t fulfill your campaign promises without cutting public services, then, you should’ve told people that before they voted for you. And, once you got to power and realized what keeping those promises might mean, then, get your big boy and big girl pants on, and take responsibility. Tell people – hey, public services cost money, so if you want to save yours and pay less in taxes, then, we have to cut public sector services. After all, sacrifices have to be made.
Well, the Government of Manitoba did say that sacrifices had to be made. Problem is that the only ones who have to make them are public sector employees, and they have to make those sacrifices so that everyone else in Manitoba can benefit . Truly, then, the Pallister PC’s are cutting taxes on the backs of the public sector employees. I don’t care how you slice it, that kind of unfair burden is always going to be at least illegal, if not also always unconstitutional.
The whole “sustainability” aspect of the Public Services Sustainability Acts, both in Nova Scotia and in Manitoba, are merely sad attempts at magic tricks without any smoke or mirrors. Nova Scotia said – we want to maintain the level of public services that Nova Scotians can afford. Manitoba said – we want to sustain the level of public services that Manitobans have come to expect.
In both cases, what they are really saying is – we want to maintain the same level of public services that the province is currently providing, but we need (or rather want, for political reasons) them to cost less. Huh. Well, that’s interesting. Sounds like you are dreaming in an alternative reality, because at the present time in this dimension, if you want something to cost less, you kind of have to accept that you will get less. You know, that old “having your cake and eating it too” saying? Yeah, it’s meant to indicate an impossibility.
But you might think – well, I’m the government, I have the power, and so I can achieve – It’s just good policy, you know. Ok-a-a-y. Yes, you have the power to make laws. But, if all you are going to do is just make it law that your public services are going to cost you less, then, why don’t you apply that to all of your costs equally? Why, pray tell, are you only picking on your employees?
Congratulations, Big Telecommunications Company, you have the privilege of serving the Government of Manitoba, so, you are going give phone, internet, and yeah, let’s throw in TV services to everyone in the public sector at a low, fixed cost. We’ll pass on the savings to all Manitobans by reducing their taxes, but we will be sure to thank you. What? You don’t like your profits being slashed and transferred to Manitobans in the form of tax cuts? We don’t care. We don’t want people who don’t like it doing business in Manitoba anyway.
Yes, I’m echoing my comments in A No Compete Treat for the Labour Market. The point is that if you are going to start setting market prices by law, because the government wants to save money, picking on only one market – the labour market – doesn’t seem defensible.
Incidentally, if the Government of Manitoba did try this with any of the big telecommunications companies or anyone else in the private sector, I assure you that the Government would be in court defending a constitutional challenge faster than you can say P-S-S-Stupid-A. The objections would be for indirect taxation – which a provincial government cannot do, and for discriminatory taxation – we earn less than our competitors for providing the same services, just because our customer happens to be the Government of Manitoba who wants to cut taxes. They would be making the same argument that I suggested for the public sector in Indirect Taxing and Discriminatory Taxation, because, of course, it is exactly the same thing, just different markets.
Leaving taxation law aside (no one understands it anyway), if you were only going to single out one market to cut your costs in by fixing the price in your favour, it’s pretty dumb to do it in the labour market. Because, you know, we have all these labour laws, which protect people where they work. And, when you are attacking the people who work for you, you are attacking people with Charter rights. The labour market is not just any market, it’s a heavily regulated market, and crucial aspects of this market, like collective bargaining, are constitutionally protected.
We have labour laws because there is an inherent power imbalance – employers have more. And we, as a free and democratic society, decided long ago that it wasn’t acceptable for employers to use that advantage to beat up on their employees. Employers in the private sector have to put up with unions and labour laws that are there to prevent abuse. So, uh, governments? Why are you surprised that the law has stepped in to stop you from abusing your power over your employees too?