January 18, 2014

The Attack on Postal Workers, CETA, Privatization

By Sam Hammond   
Republished from 'People's Voice' Newspaper

Eight thousand jobs under the wrecking crew hammer of Canada Post. Eight thousand families deprived of a living wage, eight thousand victims of the neo‑liberal restructuring of social life. After earlier cuts eliminating home delivery in rural areas, millions of urban residents, including retirees and those with handicaps, will now be denied door‑to‑door delivery of letters and packages. The destruction of what was and should be again a non‑profit, state‑provided service, is the kick‑off attack of 2014. This is an immense assault on services, jobs and Canadian culture.

What is the purpose of this? Even in the corporate greed and self‑gratification of the Canada Post executive strata, how does it make sense to destroy the foundation to save the building? This conundrum only unravels and reveals itself when viewed as a component of the preparation for complete privatization demanded by "Free Trade Agreements", and the neo‑liberal agenda for the destruction of trade unions and collective bargaining.

The Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) has been described as NAFTA on steroids. This is justified, but not entirely accurate. CETA introduces changes which escalate previous giveaways, but adds new conditions of exploitation and penetration of global capital into the Canadian State. CETA is between the European Union and Canada, but the fine print in NAFTA includes automatic adjustments to give the USA all the new conditions negotiated away by the Harper government to European capital. Obviously the CETA negotiations are automatically then a NAFTA upgrade.

The "level playing field" imposed by the neoliberal agenda on workers is a race to the bottom, while U.S. and European capitalists enjoy a race to the top, gaining equal opportunity to plunder Canadian resources and labour power. But the danger to workers is not exclusively from European or U.S. capitalists, but from capital itself. Canadian capitalists are offering up our country and our people as a commodity for sale.

CETA's pervasive expansion of sub‑state procurement provisions make it the deepest and most dangerous penetration of foreign capital, perhaps the strongest blow yet to Canadian sovereignty. The term "sub‑state" describes all municipalities, schools, hospitals, libraries, power and water utilities, and virtually all other public sector bodies and institutions which under present proposals would also be subject to CETA procurement rules. This is the direct link to Canada Post, and to the termination of home delivery services as a preamble to privatization.

This marks a definite escalation of the neo‑liberal tactics of the Harper Tory government. But if this is the tactic, how horrible is the long‑term strategy we face, beyond the term of the Harperites and into the governance of their successors?

The Canadian capitalists have their historical roots as administrators of British Colonial interests, ravagers of indigenous people and environment, managers and purveyors for offshore interests, servants of imperialism. It was a short hop to junior partners of U.S. imperialism, and now to the desire to be global players.

In possession of the second largest geographical resource cache in the world, they claim their place at the planning table of militarism and exploitation of the third world. The membership in this barbaric corporate cabal is purchased with our resources, the privatization of our social programs, and the impoverishment of working people. While the European capitalists have launched wars to ensure their state interests, the section of the Canadian ruling class presently running the ship of state have positioned themselves as brokers of resources and the environment. There is a street level word for this and it starts with "P". The legal definition, viewed from the working class perspective, is treason.

Here's what Karl Marx had to say about the struggle between the old landowners and the new industrialists in England during the "Corn Law" free trade debates: "...what is free trade under the present condition of society? It is freedom of capital. When you have overthrown the few national barriers which still restrict the progress of capital, you will merely have given it complete freedom of action. So long as you let the relation of wage labor to capital exist, it does not matter how favourable the conditions under which the exchange of commodities takes place, there will always be a class which will exploit and a class which will be exploited. .... the only result will be that the antagonism of these two classes will stand out still more clearly."

"So long as you let the relation of wage labour to capital exist," poses the essential problem that must be addressed. Simply put, the destruction of the capitalist state and the creation of the socialist state is the strategy of the Communist Party and the revolutionary forces. That is historically recognized and objectively necessary.

Unfortunately for the non‑communist left, that is often where it ends: reformism or revolution, file closed. But this empirical cop‑out denies dialectical processes such as the propellant of antagonistic opposites, of quantitative and qualitative change, of defense and attack. It denies resistance and struggle as a culture forming‑process that includes our history, our present and our future. If the solutions to exploitation and need exist only in a utopian future, what can militant workers and our unions ‑ existing here and now in this time ‑ do today?

There are choices. First and foremost must be the mobilization of all defenders of public institutions and social justice organizations around the primary potential of the labour movement, the most organized section of the working class. The tactical concepts of unity and resistance are gaining ground, revealing the potential of labour as a catalyst. Take for example the convention decisions of the Ontario Federation of Labour to build a united front of labour, social justice organizations and First Nations to fight extra‑parliamentary struggles as well as preparing for the next Ontario elections.

But at the same time, "business union" forces within the labour movement want to thwart this development, fearing for their places within a tri‑partite collaboration with capital and the capitalist state. Why are the CLC and Ken Georgetti attempting to pre‑empt the Jan. 22 meeting of heads of unions scheduled by the OFL, by calling a hasty meeting earlier under the auspice of preparing for the Ontario elections? Who is representing whom, and in whose interest? We need to know.

We also need to clearly understand the dialectical connections between CETA, the proposed destruction of 8000 jobs at Canada Post, the decline of Canadian manufacturing, and the loss of 500,000 jobs under NAFTA, all related to domestic and global corporate plans, and to the stagnation of imperialism in its last stage. The Postal Workers union, one of the most militant in the country, has supplied part of this analysis, and has started to rally support.

We need to find ways of delivering this analysis, this mother of class consciousness, into the united front movements, into every place where people work, into their strikes and demonstrations, in spite of the blackout from the corporate controlled media. We must build the working class press as an essential part of delivering this analysis.

And immediately, without delay, we need to pitch in and rally to the fight‑back campaign developing under the leadership of CUPW.

(The above article is from the January 16-31, 2014, issue of People's Voice, Canada's leading socialist newspaper. Articles can be reprinted free if the source is credited. Subscription rates in Canada: $30/year, or $15 low income rate; for U.S. readers - $45 US per year; other overseas readers - $45 US or $50 CDN per year. Send to People's Voice, c/o PV Business Manager, 706 Clark Drive, Vancouver, BC, V5L 3J1.)

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