Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Towards Permanent Exceptionalism: Coercion and Consent in Canadian Industrial Relations

By Leo Panitch and Donald Swartz
Labour /Le Travail
Autumn, 1984

Note by NYC: Although this article is dated, its anaylsis remains timely given what we are encountering with federal and provincial legislation that restricts the right to strike. A more updated version can be found in Panitch`s and Swartz`s 2003 book From Consent to Coercion : The Assault on Trade Union Freedoms: Third Edition available from UofT Books and at ABE used books. Also read today`s Bullet from the Socialist Project - The Assault on Public Services: Will Unions Lament the Attacks or Lead a Fightback?

WE ARE WITNESSING TODAY the end of the era of free collective bargaining in Canada. The era being closed is one in which the state and capital relied, more than before World War II, on obtaining the consent of workers generally, and unions in particular, to participate as subordinate actors in Canada's capitalist democracy.

The era ahead marks a return, albeit in quite different conditions, to the state and capital relying more openly on coercion — on force and on fear — to secure that subordination. This is not to suggest that coercion was in any sense absent from the post-war era or that coercion is about to become the only or even always the dominant factor in labour relations. But there is a changing conjuncture in the Canadian political economy, and it marks a change in the form in which coercion and consent are related to one another, a change significant enough to demarcate a new era.

Read more HERE (pdf).

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