Labour council refutes anti-union comments

February 22, 1999
Letter to the editor
Dear Editor:

The North Okanagan Labour Council is concerned about the anti-union comments that continue to pour out from the Westbank First Nation office in regards to the attempt by band employees to join a union.

These comments by Chief Ron Derrickson at a minimum show a great misunderstanding of what unions are all about.

At worst, they smack of union-busting and an attempt to deny workers the basic rights to organize they are entitled to under provincial, federal and international laws and conventions.

Perhaps Chief Derrickson needs a little refresher course on what unions are all about.

Generally, workers will organize to provide themselves with a degree of security. This certainly appears to be the motive behind the organization drive at the WFN; the employees have stated they feel their jobs are threatened every time a new administration is elected.

This is an understandable concern, which the employees have attempted to address in a reasonable, time-honoured manner.

A union is not about taking over the functions of management. The job of management is no different in a unionized environment than a non-unionized environment. Management continues manage. The unionized employees continue to do their work.

A union is not about making unreasonable wage demands. Workers want fair wages, but they also have an interest in making sure their employers are financially sound footing.

The better off an employer is financially, the better it is for employees. A union is about putting legally-recognized procedures in place to ensure workers receive due process and cannot be unjustly treated.

Chief Derrickson has stated no workers are being unfairly treated under his administration. If that's the case, then he should have nothing to fear from a union.

Chief Derrickson has stated the WFN will be adopting its own labour code, and therefore a union will not be necessary.

A labour code does not eliminate the need and right of workers to organize. The provincial and federal governments also have labour codes, for example, but unions continue to exist and continue to be necessary.

We have written to Chief Derrickson urging him to tone down the rhetoric and to meet with the representatives his workers have chosen to work out a solution that will be reasonable and fair to both sides.

We think the chief will be pleasantly surprised when he finds out how reasonable and positive union people can be.

Marie Mentz,
North Okanagan Labour Council



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