Have unions lost ground? Do they need to get tougher?

The union movement: The newly elected leader of the Canadian Labour Congress, Hassan Yussuff says unions have taken a beating in the recession and under Conservative governments, and labour must get more aggressive with both  governments and employers.

What do you think ...have unions lost ground? Do they need to get tougher?

Join host Rex Murphy, and his guest Hassan Yussuff

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Something happened two weeks ago that didn't get a lot of attention. The Canadian Labour Congress, Canada's largest labour organization boasting over 3.3 million members, elected a new leader for the first time in 15 years. It was a hard fought campaign that the previous and longtime president Ken Georgetti lost by only 40 votes.

The victor was Hassan Yussuff. He won with an appeal for a new get-tough approach with employers and governments. While not everybody in the labour movement agrees completely, there is a broad consensus that something has to be done to energize the movement. Union membership in Canada has stagnated, even declined slightly over the past 15 years. As the recession bit into employment, it too put pressure on unions to ease up and settle for less in labour disputes.

Hassan Yussuff says it is time to fight back, quoted on his website he said, "There is a desire and a demand to return to the offensive for rights and progress for workers after decades of retreat and decline." He went on to say, "An entire generation is being offered lower wages, fewer benefits, and a less stable future than their parents before them."

Mr Yussuff will join me in the studio for the first half of the program.

We'd like to hear your views and you can take the opportunity to speak to Hassan Yussuff too.

Do you agree that labour has been on the ropes and it is time to fight back? Should labour get more political in its battle to win rights and better conditions for workers? Or, should they focus on workplace issues? What do you think of some of the legislative measures being proposed by the federal government and other provincial governments designed to trim the powers of unions?

Should unions trim their expectations when the economy is not strong? What about the relationship between public sector workers and those in the private sector ...who should set the standards for wages and benefits?

Unions have an illustrious history in this country of winning battles for rights, safety and decent wages and conditions. Is that a fight that is onging ... or have the main battles already been won? What worklace issues have you faced? Or perhaps are dealing with now? And how did unions help or hinder?

Our topic today: "Have unions lost ground? Do they need to get tougher"

I'm Rex Murphy ...on CBC Radio One ...and on Sirius XM, satellite radio channel 169 ...this is Cross Country Checkup.


  • Hassan Yussuff
    President of the Canadian Labour Congress
    Twitter: @CanadianLabour

  • Linda Silas
    National President, Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions
    Twitter: @CFNUPresident

  • Ian Lee
    Professor at the Sprott School of Business, Carleton University



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