Poaching in the health sector or the drift of a toxic corporatism

It's the 6 February 2015 has adopted the Amend the organization and governance of the health and social services such as the abolition of regional agencies, also called the Law 10, that would lead to major changes in the structure of the health sector and social services in Quebec. At that time, significant mobilization, made up of trade unions, citizens and even professional, challenged this drastic reform whose effects involve a major upheaval in the organizational structure of the sector.

This law, like so many others, was obviously adopted without any prior consultation with stakeholders. Its main effect is to abolish numerous administrative steps and merge a significant amount of previously autonomous institutions. Before, in the health network, there was 182 institutions. With the Law 10, we spend only 34, either in integrated health centers and social service centers and integrated university health and social services. This reorganization is clearly presented by the Quebec government as a measure "to optimize the resources allocated to the health system" by abolishing the regional health and social services. In the facts, we can especially see another manifestation of fiscal austerity as it will have served as an excuse for cuts of several hundred million dollars in the budget of the Ministry of Health.

But another effect, more obscure, the adoption of this law is the upheaval in the union cutting sector. According to the CSN, it would be "the most important period of union allegiance vote in health and social services ever known in Quebec"1. Concretely, it must be understood that with a monopoly of union representation, the entire health and social services is husked various bargaining units. For each of these units, a union association (usually affiliated to a trade union center) has the exclusive right to represent all the workers who compose (union certification). The current reform, by carrying out the melting of establishments, has the effect of reducing 800 at 100 the union certifications in the health sector. It goes without saying that this is then a focal point for unions because there will be a redefinition of "market share" to divide them. For institutions merged into whom were affiliated trade unions to more than one trade union center (CSN, APTS, FIQ, CSQ, SCFP, FTQ et CSD), a vote, supervised by the Administrative Labor Court, must take place to determine the affiliation of the new merged entity.

These are many of the votes that take place 30 January 24 February 2017, also called poaching of health care and social services.

1) poaching : a plot of the state and the bosses against union action?

poaching, either these periods when it is possible to change union certification, is a process that derives directly from the model of collective labor relations imposed by the Quebec government (inspired himself from the Wagner act American). Indeed, from the moment when a union has the monopoly of representation of all workers and all workers in a given workplace, it is logical to provide some mechanisms to enable them to change their organization as their collective will. It may be a necessary evil, if we think, for example some unions controlled by the company's bosses. However, we also see the deleterious effects.

Thus the Labor code provides for certain specific periods during which it is possible for a union to challenge rival union certification by getting a majority of members. The determination of the times when this is allowed is obviously of great complexity, leaving little room at the initiative of workers, usually dependent es expertise centrally rival, not to mention the appalling number of rules that also govern the conduct of the raid. As is the case in so many other aspects of the legalistic syndicalism, we can see in this technicization union action a phenomenon more harmful to internal democracy, autonomy and vitality of the local union.

In the raid is the manifestation of another distressing practice : inter-union competition. In this context, possibly we are seeing the most hideous expression of corporatist drift Quebec unions, not least because we can easily draw a parallel with the private sector where various competing companies compete for the same market. Rather than putting energy and resources in the service of defending the interests of members (and ultimately emancipation?), the focus is on the distribution of advertising campaigns, holding kiosks in workplaces, production of promotional material, etc. These periods are exceedingly well against-productive in the fight against the employers who plays in these circumstances, a role of mere spectator. Furthermore, in this context toxic, it is quite common that a union continue in the courts competitors. Once again, we are extremely far from the legitimate function of such an organization; is first solidarity among employees es who takes everything at once!

2) Criticism of the current situation : commodification of labor services?

The raiding of the health sector is the perfect illustration of the harmfulness of such a process. Already, as mentioned, one can assume that the money invested is the accumulation of several million. However, beyond simple budgetary concern, the speeches and arguments required by central to convince employees es to vote for their organization are of greatest concern.

To begin, quantitative and financial obsession is quite symptomatic of the hegemony of neoliberal ideology that has managed to contaminate unions. For most plants, it seems the best argument to "sell" their service is in the low cost of union dues. for example, CSQ has not hindered during the holidays to declare that a vote for this central "it's more money for Christmas next year! » (sic). On the side of CUPE, it provides potential members a virtual calculator to determine, depending on the position, category and region of residence, with which organization will in the most for his money. Sure, in light of the results, we see that it is more often than the union would be most advantageous. Short, all this gives the impression of vendors who claim to have "the lowest prices in town. »

Also, it is highly suggestive to note the predominance of theme group insurance in the arguments of all the contenders organizations. Each tries to demonstrate the superiority of the product they offer in comparison with its competitors. Comparative tables are well distributed in order to prove that one is better than the other. Of course, these are not the plants themselves that these insurance-plan autogèrent; their function is rather down to being brokers of their members to negotiate with insurance companies (usually private).

Special mention must be made to the CSN, which seems much less prompt its rivals to focus on the pecuniary benefits of a favorable vote. Effectively, his speech generally carries about its capacity for mobilization and political action. Once this is said, it does not mean that the Confederation is less obsessed with numbers : it seems that his communications specialists have decided that the "strength in numbers" should be the main argument in its favor, since the superiority of the union result from the preponderance of members in comparison with rivals.

All these examples help to establish a constant : the union is no longer presented as an organization by and for members. Rather than seeing the opportunity to unite to force, it seems to be in a paradigm where the union is only a common service provider must offer the cheapest product and the cheapest on the market. Short, one can question whether it would not be the manifestation of a commodification of union action.

That's not counting the corporatist drift that is included in the speech organization numbers. This institutional chauvinism, besides being strongly against-productive if we keep in mind the ultimate objective of the struggle against the employers, is all the more harmful it acts as a pitiful demobilization for the entire labor movement. So, several central and accuse each other of lying to the public or to falsify statistics to promote themselves. Just think of the CSN who accused the FIQ to "conduct a disinformation campaign" and of betraying its members during the last negotiations.

At the corporatism and the separation, emphasize the campaign FIQ which reached the union cynical shallows. His first advertising campaign emphasizes the uniformity of the composition of the membership of the organization which wants an inter-federation. So, with the FIQ, not about to rub vulgar attendants es beneficiaries, Workers kitchens, housekeeping, etc., car, "Unlike other unions, the FIQ, we are 100% Professional Care. "This speech is all the more deplorable that he has not only exacerbated the competition between organizations, but to foster contempt between employees who are called es-es to dissociate themselves by their profession, rather than a united front against the employer.

3) Another vision of unionism

There are certainly many differences between the various trade union organizations currently active in this raid, including issues related to political action, positioning in public debates, the cost of benefits, etc. However, we must also recognize a certain homogeneity as to the means used to play their role of defending workers. Effectively, all these organizations perform the same task in the final : or to negotiate "in good faith" of the collective agreements they co-administer, with employers, for the period during which they are in force. They bring arbitration grievances of their members, will sit on labor relations committees or occupational safety and health, BBQ and will hold, sometimes, participate in events.

However, be aware that another unionism is possible. We can advocate another way to do by and for employees es. Rather than seeing the union as an outside entitée that we do not control, it could be a constellation of workers who join together to conduct a collective struggle against our operators. So, our energies will be focused on the struggle against the employers, to empower us for good of wage exploitation.


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