Strikes: Tough Love.
Somebody pushed me very hard from behind and we both fell onto the side of the road. A huge shiny blade of a grader passed inches above my face tearing my sign which said: “legal Strike, Union local #” off the stick I still held in my hand and a rough voice shouted above the diesel motor noise. You guys stay out of the way or someone will get killed. The big tire came pretty close to my foot.
I was a new employee and didn’t even fully understand why we were on strike, but we were and I just about became a victim of it. It was my first and last strike. Not long after that, I became a low-level supervisor, and we were being trained on how to treat workers as a part of the organization and our services and industries flourished. I was able to work and complete a University degree paying $100 per semester. We had a good government in Edmonton. The province was booming and saving money for later.
The first time that I have heard about “The Crowsnest Pass” was In a history lecture at U of C where they played a little film about miners' strikes. Much later I viewed a similar film at “The Interpretive Centre” and recognized that here was a place with a history of people fighting for their rights. The years went by and lately, I see a rise in strikes and demonstrations. From my knowledge, I deduct that the world is on fire for many reasons.
Anti-government demonstrations in many places are happening and people are being killed. Hong Kong, Chile, England, France, and the Middle East are only a few. Now and then the strikes and demonstrations are turning into full-blown civil wars and strikes are vicious and long. GM strike last month was seven weeks.
Not long ago we had our postal workers' strike and lately, unrest in Ontario was alarming. The provincial government did a complete turnabout and is trying to rebrand itself. Student unrest is spreading all over the place mostly around ecological issues this far. I watch around and see the potential for the unrest to spread into economic issues. There is nothing new here. We travelled this road before many times.
Here in Alberta, the young people’s rights to minimum wages were rolled back. Next, the freeze on tuition fees was taken off coupled with a reduction of learning facilities budgets and then the big crunch. A reduction through attrition of all social services, hospitals, schools, and civic services. Today’s students will graduate with high student loans debts into an economy that is being rolled back and slowed down. The graduates will have to be underemployed or move back with their parents. Combine this with a shortage of affordable housing, and the fact that a lot of students expected jobs related to the diminishing oil industry, (25% of our local economy) and you got trouble. A waitress told me, “they created thousands of jobs and I got three of them. I still can’t afford the rent.”
I predict a much-heightened level of civil unrest in the near future. We live in a land of plenty but all of our efforts are being channeled towards supporting a single industry which is doomed, not immediately but soon. Every forest fire or hundred-year flood hastens its end. While our leaders are using political pressure in an attempt to resolve the fight against the oil industry, they ignore the people who demanded the action. Already millions of people are out in the streets pressuring us to change. They are environmentalists, first nations and lately our own kids. They don’t want to be consulted, they want action.
We will find out that foreigners are financing anti-pollution movements, but the environmentalists will discover that foreigners are owning our oil and are protecting their investments. We wouldn’t care but now we are being forced to pay for the shortfall in their revenues and protests and strikes will happen. We are being conscripted to fight against our fellow Canadians but in a short while when we hurt we will discover a mystery. People take a lot of abuse before they fight but eventually resentment finds its way to the surface.
The real problem always, historically, now and in the future is that all humans, like water, strive to be equal with all others. First comes safety, we all want to live, eat, drink, reproduce, and after that we demand equality. We demand to have our space on earth and equal rights with others. We like competition but only if we have a chance to win.
In the last half a century the gap between rich and poor, be it individuals or nations, has grown wide. Modern communication exposed the fact to almost all human beings and there is a sentiment to rebel. It will not go away unless addressed by the leaders. We don’t mind rewarding hard work and detest laziness as a rule. We hate slave owners and abusers.
Governments, industry leaders, bankers and all other people in a position of power please understand. The job became more complicated. Every time you win may hasten your demise. Today its demonstrations and strikes, tomorrow it may be worst. Humans are born with a preconditioned drive to selfishly dominate and equally a need to love and be on par with each other. It is important to keep the two in balance or we will destroy all that we achieved and face extinction. That is my opinion anyway.