February 11, 2011

Regarding employment in British Columbia

February, 2011

In British Columbia, employment is dropping faster than anywhere in the country, save the Atlantic region. Official government figures indicate employment jumped to 8.2% in January, and actual unemployment may be as high as 12%. During the first month of 2011 most other provinces saw an increase in employment numbers over the last month, yet BC continues to slip.

Youth and workers in BC have been told for some time that the economy is in recovery mode. But no recovery has arrived for workers, youth, and students. This "jobless recovery" means a recovery for big business only in a province short on jobs, with the lowest minimum wages in the country, and continued attempts by government and employers to make workers pay for the economic crisis.

The provincial government has made no significant moves to fix the growing problem of unemployment. Unemployment levels of this magnitude or higher suit the political agenda of the BC Liberals, because competition keeps workers divided and facilitates a race to the bottom in terms of wages and working conditions. In BC corporate income taxes are being cut while working people are hit with increases in fares, tuition, and other fees, as well as the hated HST. This trend highlights the anti-worker stance of the BC Liberal government.

The cause of unemployment is fundamentally tied to the mode of production. That is to say, the economy is owned and controlled by private corporations whose interest is in profits, not the people. Furthermore, there is little recourse for working people to have democratic input in the economy. Thus, the economy reflects the interests of the few owners and bosses, not the mass of British Columbians. The BC Liberals are of owners, of big business, which seeks to further the exploitation of workers to the most extreme level.

To ensure total worth-while employment there must be enforced legislation for a living wage for all workers, and abolition of the $6 training wage. Work weeks must be shortened and a ban placed on mandatory overtime. Ban raw log exports, and open publicly run mills in British Columbia. Nationalize oil and gas, end and reverse privatization of BC Hydro, and increase funding to post-secondary education. All of these reforms would create good-paying, secure jobs and increase the standard of living for British Columbians.

Experience over the past ten years of Liberal rule have shown that only a broad, mass, and militant fightback led by labour and joined by, among others, the youth and students, can force change on a government that is unreceptive to the will of the people. The power of mass extra-parliamentary struggle should not be downplayed, as recent events in Egypt and Tunisia demonstrate. We also note that with the potential of a provincial election within the year, the opportunity now exists to ensure the defeat of the Liberal Party as well as to block the rise of new and resurgent forces on the right like the BC Conservatives and BC First Party. But this will only occur if the people of BC, fed up with years of the Liberal's big business policies, are mobilized around not only their discontents, but a progressive alternative.

Ultimately, we know that while the opportunity exists to win many progressive reforms which will improve the lives of working people, youth and students, the capitalist system with its periodic crisis, its need for war and plunder, and its environmental degradation, can only offer increasingly dismal long term prospects. The exploitative capitalist system which produces economic crisis, unemployment, and poverty, must be replaced by a new, socialist, system wherein working people hold all political and economic power and harness it for the benefit of society, not for the profits of a minority.

Build the Trade Unions!

Build the Students' Unions!

Build the Young Communist League!

Better Work, Better Wages!

BC Provincial Committee
Young Communist League of Canada

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