Former CAW President says government has 'woke up' labour movement


The former national president of the Canadian Auto Workers union is speaking out against the provincial government and the use of the notwithstanding clause

Speaking on AM800's The Dan MacDonald Show, Ken Lewenza says he's been involved in negotiations for 40-years and has never entered talks without high expectations.

He says sometimes initial purposes are unobtainable but then you negotiate to come to some common ground.

"The government using the constitution against collective bargaining rights that are enshrined in our rights is suicidal for the government," he continued. "I mean what they have just done and I hope they have done, has woke up the labour movement."

Lewenza says what the government is currently doing is an assault on labour unions and collective bargaining.

"The reality is all unionized workers and workers more generally that get support as a result of free collective bargaining is at risk here. This is just an assault on labour unions, assault on collective bargaining," he said.

Lewenza says collective bargaining is at risk.

"This is not a slippery hill, this is steep hill down and workers all over, non union workers also are going to be affected so I just say to the listening audience, you do not want any government to screw around with your constitutional rights."  

The government is expected to pass a bill today that would impose a contract on Canadian Union of Public Employees workers.

It includes a four-year contract and would ban strikes, with steep fines if workers do not comply.

CUPE has said its workers, including educational assistants, custodians and administrative staff, will start a strike Friday "until further notice."


- with files from The Dan MacDonald Show