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Considering the economic down-trend, most highly educated individuals struggle to find a job. The Canadian federal officiers have the above-average pay, above-average benefits, above average stability, with below-average working hours and intensity. Grown up in Canada, we recognize the profession of public servant as a first-class job, with household income close to the high middle class. Their strike, while benefiting themselves, disrupts normal public functions. They harmed the general public in this sense. For example, travel documents are delayed and family reunion is delayed or becomes more difficult.

For a quick Google search, multiple sources suggest that Canadian federal workers earn an average salary of $75,620 dollars per year (other sources say C$79,780), which is about 45% more than the Canadian average, and 85% percent more than the Canadian median. For reference:

Alberta offered the highest average and median income of $56,100 and $42,500.

The bottom 50% of Canadians earned a median annual income of only $17,800.

The last line is based on https://themeasureofaplan.com/high-income-canadians/ and is approximately similar to the data provided by statistical Canada.

Of course, they are free to feel unsatisfied with their job. However, we can image that most of those highly educated unemployed Canadians will be more than happy to have themselves placed into a position of federal worker. Furthermore, the fed workers are striking against us -- the common taxpayers -- not the capitalists.

So, my question is, provided that only 30% vote to support the strike of federal worker, why did none of the unemployed Canadians and common taxpayers 1. protest against the strike which disrupts public services, 2. offer themselves as replacement to those federal workers, 3. have a healthy degree of public media presence?

enter image description here

Canada public sector: The "median pay" data is hard to find so it is listed here only for reference. I am very open to more reliable data source. Hopefully it will include both the average data, median data, and the payroll data including benefits.

For now we have the following reliable sources, with limited data:

Salary for entry-level jobs

Personnel Expenditure Analysis: total personnel spending and its growth rate pre-strike.


Editorial note: tried to incorporate many sources and numbers from the comments. Tried to be as neutral as possible to equally include the evidences from both sides.

enter image description here

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    Google searches for average Canadian salary gives $59k and average federal worker salary at $45k so the opening premises seems flawed.
    – Jontia
    Sep 30 at 8:00
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    @dodo I didn't count anybody. I simply asked what the average salary was in the usual way. If you have a different number I suggest providing the source for people to judge the quality for themselves.
    – Jontia
    Sep 30 at 12:58
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    The premise is flawed as @Jontia suggests. Average government salary shouldn't be similar to overall average salary any more than average salary in any given industry should be. Government jobs are not broadly representative of the labor market. A fairer comparison would look at average salaries of nongovernment workers in similar jobs, and I imagine that would show a much closer comparison. In some sectors, private employees probably make more (lawyers, for example).
    – phoog
    Sep 30 at 13:14
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    Looking at the question, and particularly the edits made to the question, I've voted to close as an attempt to promote/discredit a particular cause.
    – James K
    Sep 30 at 15:20
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    And that is the feds paying workers, not you. It really sounds like you got an agenda with this question with trying to insist that the median income is only 18k and that tax payers directly pay the wages of federal employee instead of just funding the government.
    – Joe W
    Oct 1 at 21:02

4 Answers 4

8

You are analysing this from the wrong perspective - The public are never happy with strikes that affect their daily life. But the public are also smart enough to recognize that a strike is a political protest, and thus are willing to tolerate the inconvenience of it if they support the politics behind it or trust the government to handle it democratically.

Let's assume you are right that the striking Canadian Federal Officers are earning more than 45% of the average Canadian workers. Then the first question that most of the remaining 55% Canadian workers will obviously have is why do those with stable jobs, earning so much, have to strike?

Those striking have made clear demands:

  1. They want wage increases to keep pace with inflation.
  2. Better job security (protections against layoff, permanent employ instead of short-term contract hiring etc).
  3. Right to work remotely (from home or elsewhere).

For any worker, private or government, in low-paying or high-paying jobs, all these demands are quite reasonable as all workers desire the same too.

A wage increase that doesn't consider inflation can be practically meaningless as it won't improve your savings or quality of life. The increasing trend of hiring workers only on short-term contracts means both the government and private businesses can exploit workers by paying them lower wages - if anyone protests, they can be threatened that their contract won't be renewed. Those hired on contracts are also denied other benefits that regular workers are entitled to.

Diana, a striker in Mississauga, explained the challenges posed by the rising cost of living, commenting, “I don’t go out for dinner at all. I don’t go to movies any more. I literally don’t do anything any more. All I do is work, pay my bills, walk my dog in the park. There you go.”

... Asked what she thought of the government’s claim that it cannot afford to grant public servants a wage increase that keeps pace with inflation in light of its funnelling $650 billion to the banks, businesses and wealthy investors with no strings attached at the onset of the pandemic, Olivia replied, “Don’t we also deserve something? We served through the pandemic. We’re essential services. Everything from cradle to the grave. We’re asking for a humble raise.”

... “One thing the public doesn’t know is that our contracts expire and it takes years for them to get renegotiated. So we’re not negotiating our contracts before they expire any more like we did when I started 15 years ago. Now it’s four years before we’re renegotiating. So you can imagine the next one will be two or three years from now. This one expired in 2021,” he said.

"Right to work remotely" is a post-covid phenomena that has become quite popular. During the pandemic most of the world workforce was forced to work from homes. Canadian government officials were no exception. Thus, these Federal workers now claim that they have proved that it is very much possible to do their jobs from their home too, and hence should be allowed to work remotely too. For their own reasons, the government bureaucrats and private corporations are strongly against encouraging remote work. But it is very clear, around the world, that this is a very popular demand.

... Workers explained how their demand for the right to work remotely would help them achieve a better balance between their professional and family lives. They also pointed to the financial benefits under conditions in which their pay checks are stretched. “Thankfully we don’t have to drive if we’re working remotely. Otherwise you add another $500 for your car and $300 for gas,” stated Olivia. “That’s $800 just for transportation every month.”

... While refusing to make any concessions on the issue of remote work, the Trudeau government is cynically encouraging government workers to scab on the strike by working from home. According to a report in the Globe and Mail, government officials emphasized in press briefings that workers can continue to receive full pay during the strike by logging on to their work accounts remotely.

The average Canadian worker is smart enough to understand that if the government accommodates these demands, even partly or fully, it will have rippling effect in the private sector too. They can also see that the biggest objections against the unions, and their demands, come from the richer corporates. Unlike the Americans, Canadians don't have any delusions that governments should always prioritise corporate interests.

That brings us to the politics behind this strike.

The Trudeau government wanted to lay off many government staff, and replace them with fewer temporary contract workers as part of its austerity measures. If a government is allowed to do this with impunity, without any resistance, government workers rightly fear that this will lead to an erosion of their hard won rights. There are also questions if firing government workers is the best way to save some money.

Ordinary Canadian citizens thus recognise that the government is partly responsible for this mess and have poorly handled this issue. Political protests (like a strike) happen when the government doesn't democratically engage with all the stakeholders properly when implementing a policy. If the government gets carte blanche to lay off government workers, and hire fewer contract workers to replace them, this can become an entrenched norm in the private sector too. Which average Canadian worker will support less job security, more workload, less pay in their right mind?

Thus, from the above political perspective, it is easier to answer your doubts:

why did none of the unemployed Canadians and common taxpayers 1. protest against the strike which disrupts public services,

The citizens aren't against the strikes because they support the politics behind it and / or they don't like the current government's policy (i.e. they blame the government) or they trust the government to handle the issue, one way or the other.

  1. offer themselves as replacement to those federal workers,

In general, the legal system of most democratic nations don't allow the government to easily fire striking workers as it violates labour rights. So even if other jobless citizens offer themselves as replacement (assuming they are qualified), Canadian law may not allow the Trudeau government to hire them. Doing so also will negatively impact Trudeau's poll prospect in the future.

  1. have a healthy degree of public media presence?

Corporate backed media is already heavily critical of the strike and the unions. And it is in their interest to not give media presence to unemployed citizens as that can turn the political focus on unemployment. Then the debate may shift on to whether the current administration is favouring corporates.

Source: Strike by over 100,000 Canadian federal government workers continues for third day (21 April 2023)

(Note: I have deliberately chosen a "biased socialist" source that presents the striking workers side. If the Canadians are supporting, or not against, the strikers, it is obviously because they are swayed by their political arguments which only a "biased source" will detail).

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    Also don’t forget that people simply fail to understand Econ 101. They forget that caving in to the demands benefits a small group of people while harming the economy overall - but the benefits are visible and concentrated while the harms are abstract and hard to measure. Oct 1 at 15:45
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    Also, a cynic might note that the sectors picked for strike action were, perhaps not coincidentally, rather unlikely to provoke ire by the average Canadian citizen. Oct 1 at 19:38
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    @dodo are you really calling workers who make $75,000 a year rich? That level of salary is no where near high enough to call them rich.
    – Joe W
    Oct 1 at 20:47
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    @dodo making claims that people making 75k a year are rich and by using incorrect information about people only making 18k a year appears to be pushing an agenda. It seems to be shifting the focus from the people who are actually rich to average people who are trying to make a better living. Instead of focusing on the people who actually control the paychecks of the low income workers you are instead focusing on others. factcheck.afp.com/doc.afp.com.338N7F8
    – Joe W
    Oct 1 at 21:06
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    This is a great answer, but I'd also add with the point about offering themselves as replacements to those federal workers - if the unemployed do "scab" (By taking the positions another federal employee had when striking and taking their position away - see definition 3. b.).), they're not going to get better conditions than the striking workers - they're going to get worse conditions (i.e. Less stability, less benefits, less pay, etc.). And when things get too bad for them... Oct 1 at 23:13
3

Frame Challenge: People normally don't protest when someone who makes more then them goes on strike.

You don't see protests over pro athletes going on strike asking for more money. You don't see protests over actors/writers going on strike asking for more money. You don't see protests over highly paid union workers going on strike asking for more money.

Just because they are striking doesn't mean that people will protest it even if they disagree with what is being asked for.

-2

When you say it "causes public harm", it doesn't cause harm to the working public, since the working public benefit from strikes and general increases in the market level of pay. So that assumption is flawed to begin with.

For other workers to attack the strike by attempting to break it has a name: scabbing. There's two reasons why workers may not do this.

Firstly, they may support the strike and support the challenging of employer power. Unemployment exists only because of state policy to attack workers, so the unemployed man does not necessarily align with the employers and against other workers, because he potentially recognises that he's being played as a pawn when urged to scab.

Indeed, the unemployed, having little or nothing to lose personally, may join in to promote mayhem against scabs - and the broader working community will approve.

Secondly, such scabbing often provokes an escalation in violence and retaliation, so that the scab risks being physically beaten and any of their property smashed, including potentially long after the strike. So even the scab not controlled by ideological sympathy, will be controlled by self-interest.

From the employer's point of view, firstly they risk having their machines and property smashed in an escalation to prevent scabbing, and despite hiring scab workers they risk not getting work done because of picket lines and other kinds of interruptions.

It's not always an option to simply send in police or army, since they are public workers whose own pay and conditions may be under attack by the employers, and they may either sympathise with the strikers anyway, or will come to sympathise through the process of confrontation.

Secondly for the employer, scab workers are often untrained and inefficient, they may risk damaging things or personal injury, and may have to be paid large premiums in wages (which is what the employer is trying to oppose for the strikers), so it isn't necessarily a better solution to keeping the operation going than just accepting the pay demands of the strikers.

There are also wider political effects from constantly attacking workers, that can take decades to mature, but is manifest currently by the sense that nothing seems to work anymore and the authorities are losing control of people in every respect.

Those are largely the circumstances in which the right to strike was won. Originally, strikes were always illegal, but what the authorities representing employers eventually found was that strikes occurred anyway, sympathies became widespread, and many lawmen sympathised with strikers.

Each atrocity the authorities committed to try and cow workers, was simply followed by more extreme violence and more destruction of employer property and public infrastructure, including continuing in disorganised and autonomous ways whenever labour leaders were eliminated, and the work still didn't get done on the terms the employers wanted it done.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Virginia_coal_wars

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    If you live in Canada, you will know, for general public, how difficult it was to get things done during the strike.
    – dodo
    Sep 30 at 10:53
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    You are giving too much negative connotations for federal workers who is scabbing. They are the ones keep the public system functioning during the strike: this is doing the public good, not the other way around.
    – dodo
    Sep 30 at 10:56
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    @dodo, but no less difficult for the strikers I'll bet. The level of hardship is immaterial. People in WW2 put up with bombs through the ceiling. It's who is blamed for the hardship - if the public blame intransigent employers for causing the strike by attacking pay, then it's the employers who will bear all public ire.
    – Steve
    Sep 30 at 10:57
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    @dodo, the poor wouldn't need to be fed if they were paid properly in work. People understand that the paymaster is the federal government, but it's the boss-interests who control politics who actually determine the behaviour of the federal government as an employer. Moreover, there is nothing to stop the government shifting taxation to the rich - current taxation may be personal, but it does not have to be. If the boss-interests controlling politics could increase taxes on workers, they already would have, and would have reduced taxes on the rich with the proceeds.
    – Steve
    Sep 30 at 13:38
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    Moreover, they cannot explicitly reference these connections. They cannot warn workers "we'll put your taxes up if these unionised workers win", because that will just provoke the rhetorical question in response: why aren't the rich having only their taxes increased, to pay for better wages? They don't want to have the argument on those grounds, that there is some connection between who is taxed and what wages are paid.
    – Steve
    Sep 30 at 13:40
-7

This answer constitutes no formal advice or opinion pieces. It does not focus on justifying a cause, but stick to answer the question.

I'd say more than 50% of individuals in my narrow circles are unhappy with the federal strike. Their feelings are like "Jes, the rulers are striking against we lower-class" (the logics are not necessarily factual). In fact, there are actually 30% of federal workers who voted. However, they are not standing-up against the union due to the following three reasons:

  1. For workers, they don't want to be "hunted" by the union. Although going against the union is legal, few will do in public as the union is trying to everything they can to "hunt" and punish people against them. If they fight, they will fight anonymously.
  2. For common taxpayers, their voice are suppressed because "going against the union" is politically incorrect for the mainstream media.
  3. Comparing to the unions, the unhappy don't have an organization or a leader.

More reasons are also possible. I am open for more ideas.


Comments and Rebuttals:

We cannot deny that there are some people who is unsatisfied with the strike.

One answer mistakenly suggest that the strike will help the poorest by accelerating taxing the rich. In fact, increasing "rich-tax" is never an agenda of the union of federal workers. The union aims for wage-increase only.

That answer also mistakenly suggest that the "bosses" or the "capitalists" are paying the federal workers. In fact, they are paid with mostly personal income tax and sales taxes (>51%), which could otherwise be used to feed the poorest.

It is a common misconception that union is always against the "rich" or the "capitalist", making the discussion off-topic. While I think a union against the rich is fine, but a union against the common taxpayers like you and me is very different. Careful conceptualization and clarification is needed. It is the everyone who is paying the federal workers, not the capitalists.

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  • Opinion based answers should be avoided
    – Joe W
    Sep 30 at 20:02
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    If the question and its comments didn't prove this is purely about pushing a position, this answer must seal the deal.
    – Nij
    Oct 1 at 10:20
  • "More reasons are also possible. I am open for discussion." This is not a discussion forum, you should know this by now.
    – F1Krazy
    Oct 1 at 14:44
  • @Nij Which point I made in this answer is not fact or off-topic?
    – dodo
    Oct 1 at 15:39
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    As I stated above, this is a rather good question (from both my experience living in France and Canada, where striking government workers are frequent). But it would be hard to answer factually, unless subject-specific opinion polls were carried out. But to ask such a question and to answer it with a rather "opinionated" answer within a few hours? That looks less like question-asking and more opinion-pushing. Oct 1 at 17:37

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