House of Commons Hansard #129 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was workers.

Topics

Restoring Rail Service Act
Government Orders

10:35 p.m.

NDP

Alain Giguère Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member from the Quebec City region said this was a difficult decision to make. If the decision were all that difficult, then it would not be made so often. This is the third time the government has introduced special legislation. Despite its so-called goodwill, it says it is difficult to come to an agreement.

How can the Conservatives hope to come to an agreement when they ask the workers to give up 40% of their pensions, to give up the chance to balance work and family life and to give up the chance to simply see their salary indexed to the rate of inflation?

After that, the government says it tried to come to an agreement where the employees sacrifice everything, where all the sacrifices were one-sided. The government says that it will come and make a decision, but as usual, it always decides against those who do the work and not those will come out $17 million ahead.

Restoring Rail Service Act
Government Orders

10:35 p.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, we were elected to make decisions in the interests of all Canadians. As I said in my speech, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service was established to provide dispute resolution and dispute prevention assistance to trade unions and employers under the jurisdiction of the Canada Labour Code.

The service offers employers and unionized employees tools for dispute resolution through the services of conciliation and mediation officers. These are third parties whose mandate is to assist both parties in reaching an agreement.

Restoring Rail Service Act
Government Orders

10:35 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, I do not think that the parliamentary secretary is going to win any Oscars tonight. We are going to have a little chat about important matters.

He wants to tell me about the economy. I want to tell him about fatigue and about safety. I am not saying that he tires me out; fatigue is just what I want to talk to him about. Let us consider an employee who is on call around the clock for seven days a week and who, with two hours notice, may be called on to work 36 hours in a row. But there is no way to deal with the situation because that bunch at Canadian Pacific does not want to hear a word about fatigue management.

If he is so close to those who elected him, would the parliamentary secretary be willing to explain to them that there might be a safety issue because Canadian Pacific was unwilling to follow up on what the employees want? Fatigue management looks simple to me. We will not talk about pension funds yet; we will talk about them later because the employees are being robbed. But fatigue management is directly related to the safety of Canadians.

Is the hon. member waiting for a derailment? He wants to pass his special legislation. What does he have to say about fatigue?

Restoring Rail Service Act
Government Orders

10:40 p.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, let me respond to the future mayor of Montreal, because I am sure he is tired of being here in this House.

Our government is responsible and we have been elected to make decisions in the interest of all Canadians.

We have made a commitment to them to promote job creation, growth and long-term prosperity in Canada. That is what Canadians are expecting from us. That is why we have to have the courage of our convictions.

Restoring Rail Service Act
Government Orders

10:40 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Is it relevant when someone is reading something that he does not understand and when he is not answering my question?

Restoring Rail Service Act
Government Orders

10:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

I am not sure that is a point of order.

The hon. parliamentary secretary.

Restoring Rail Service Act
Government Orders

10:40 p.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, this type of question, this type of comment in the House, does not deserve an answer.

Restoring Rail Service Act
Government Orders

10:40 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that I will probably be the last to speak to this before we have to see the reaction on the other side.

Over and over again tonight, we have heard varying comments. I think the member for Simcoe—Grey had one of the best ones that I heard tonight when she said, “We allowed them to come to an agreement”.

This is collective bargaining between an employer and the employees and she is trying to tell us that the government allowed them to try to come to an agreement. However, within 20 hours of a strike deadline, the government decided it would start talking to them about imposing back-to-work legislation, back-to-work legislation that favours the employer.

The government seems to forget who unionized workers are. Unionized workers are real people. They are not aliens or diseases, as the government would like people to believe they are. It is unbelievable what it tries to depict workers as.

Since the last election, we have witnessed over and over again the government abuse its powers to attack workers, workers' pensions and workers' wages by ramming back-to-work legislation through. We just have to think of Air Canada and Canada Post. Now it is after CP.

We cannot help but wonder who is next. The government just keeps favouring the big corporations over workers and it is trying to race to the bottom. One would think it was a Walmart.

All these workers want is a fair deal, a fair deal that they cannot get under a government that continues to stick its nose in collective bargaining. They want a fair deal so they can actually support their families and support their communities. These are who the real workers are. These are who unionized workers are. They are our brothers, fathers, neighbours and service providers. Their rights are being violated, rights that were recognized by the Supreme Court as being charter rights.

The government keeps talking about the economy. We are the ones who know the direction the economy has been taking. The government did not even believe we were going into an economic crisis until we were there. Now what is it doing? It is putting 19,000 federal workers out of work. Those are federal jobs that will be gone.

The government is attacking the workers' support network, EI. We heard the Minister of Labour talk about the fact that there are fewer people on employment insurance but what she is not telling us it that it is because people cannot access employment insurance.

Instead of putting in training dollars and ensuring there are proper support networks so people can actually get through the phone lines at employment insurance, the government is closing down offices that help support workers. It is laying off people. Then it is attacking seniors and their pensions. Why is it that the government keeps wanting to race to the bottom?

I do want to talk about the CP workers from Chapleau in my riding, people like Brian Ferguson, Michael MacDonald, Jason McKee and Robin Robitaille. They have sent me letters. I have a whole pile of letters here that I hope I will be allowed to table, such as the letter from Diane Tangie Labranche.

What they are talking about is the fact that the attack is basically on their pension and the government is allowing the employer to attack their pension and to reduce the type of pension they will have when they retire. Some of these people have 30 years of service.

Diane Tangie Labranche writes:

As our Member of Parliament we need your support to retain the pension plan that has been funded by our members for over 108 years since its existence at Canadian Pacific Railway.

It is 108 years that they have paid into this pension, a pension where the employer mismanaged the investments and now there is $1.6 billion deficit. In order for these workers to retire with enough pension to live they will need to pay for the next five years $107,000 or $21,000 annually during this five year period. It depends on how long they have been there. The more conservative alternative investment strategy considered by the company would have cost only $2,300 annually over a 15-year period, a far more desirable outcome for all parties and one that would negate the current pension concession demands.

Meanwhile, the outgoing CEO would now have a severance package of $18 million. Can we imagine that?

Meanwhile, instead of protecting the workers' pensions and instead of protecting the workers' wages, they are attacking the workers.

Here is something else that they tell us:

Many of the employees who would be affected by the pension demands made by our employer stand to have the pensions they have worked many years to achieve dramatically reduced, some of these potentially affected employees have worked for CP for 30 plus years. As a running trade employee I work long hours which frequently occupies 60 or more hours a week away from home working in this heavily regulated environment.

I do not know about other members, but I have seen these railroad workers, and I can tell members that not only do they work long hours but they also do very hard work.

They go on to say:

The nature of my employment requires me to base my work attendance on 2 hours notice to work, this places considerable demands on lifestyle and families. The existing negotiated pension benefits is one of the primary reasons that I have remained a committed CP railway employee.

What members should also know is that during their bargaining, these employees actually ensured that they were going to have good pensions. They decided that they would pay more for their pensions.

Brian Ferguson writes:

The company wants us to degrade our pensions to levels in place at CN. The 2 pension structures are totally different from each other.

They paid higher premiums and they gave a concession that they would work longer in order to ensure that they would keep a good collective agreement, which is about to disappear.

As I am terminating here, I would like consent to table all of these letters that I have received, because they show that these are real people, these unionized workers, and the letters show the government the concerns that they have and everything that they have done and worked so hard to get.

The people from Chapleau, the people from White River, the people from all over Canada who are working for CP are there because they want to make a living for their families, not because they are just unionized workers.

I would hope that we all vote down this legislation.

Restoring Rail Service Act
Government Orders

10:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

It being 10:48 p.m., pursuant to an order made earlier today, it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the second reading stage of the bill now before the House.

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Restoring Rail Service Act
Government Orders

10:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Restoring Rail Service Act
Government Orders

10:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Restoring Rail Service Act
Government Orders

10:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Restoring Rail Service Act
Government Orders

10:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

All those opposed will please say nay.

Restoring Rail Service Act
Government Orders

10:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Restoring Rail Service Act
Government Orders

10:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.