Mr. Speaker, first of all I wish to thank all members of the House and of the Senate for the opportunity to change the name of our beautiful riding from Sackville—Eastern Shore to Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore. On behalf of the 83,000 we thank the House and the other place very much for that.
It is interesting that we are debating today the concern of my question on February 16 about the blue collars workers of the PSAC union. It is unfortunate that in 1993 this Liberal government broke its promise to end regional rates of pay which in my riding of Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore are a very major bone of contention for these hardworking Atlantic Canadians who are not paid equitably for the work they do compared to other workers with the same union across the country.
Today in the House we saw crocodile tears from the House leader of the Liberal Party who said how upset and how ashamed he was that these workers can actually hold hostage the people of Canada or the farmers of Canada. In all my years of labour negotiations and all my years in the union never once have I ever met a picketer who loved to be on a picket line. Never once have I met a family that wanted its main earner to go on the picket line and lose income so it could end up losing the house, having to go further into debt, having to lose the car and so on. No one likes a picket line, especially farmers. No one likes a picket line, especially the workers who are on that picket line.
What they do want and what they have asked for time and time again is fair collective bargaining. In the event that bargaining process breaks down it is up to the two parties, in this case the government and PSAC, to bring in an arbitrator to make a ruling which is binding on both parties in this case. That arbitration was legislated out so the workers do not even have that opportunity.
I also wish to name two people, Mr. Howie West and Ms. Cathy Murphy, in Nova Scotia with the PSAC union who have done yeoman's work for their membership and for the citizens of Nova Scotia by bringing these issues to the forefront and displaying a very positive attitude as to how they can reach a settlement in this case.
The government refused to negotiate pay equity and now it is before the courts and they are appealing it one more time. Then it was regional rates of pay it refused to discuss. Now the government will go after its own workers' pension plan.
Three strikes and this government will be out. As my colleague for Winnipeg Centre said, the government is waking a sleeping giant it does not want to wake up. I can assure the House that from coast to coast to coast retired PSAC workers and current PSAC workers from all stripes will rise up in anger over the fact that this government is refusing to listen and has brought the morale of these workers to an all time low.
I have letter addressed to the President of the Treasury Board. It basically states if this government thinks it can legislate these workers back to work and replace the picket line outside and move the picket line inside, it is sadly mistaken because it is in for a lot of trouble it does not wish to have.