The Afghan-Iranian Youth Network believes that one of the central means of improving the conditions of working people, whether they be Afghan, Iranian or any other nationality, is through building of labour unions in our workplaces. Having a union is a first step to providing a means for workers to fight, as a collective, against their employers.
It is self-evident to workers in all sectors of Canadian society that they are powerless in relation to their employers, that is, the terms of their employment are dictated by the bosses. The result is that workers are paid pennies in relation to the huge profits their employers take home. Harassment, underpayment, favoritism, workplace unsafety and intimidation are often the result of such a worker-owner relationship – as many of our readers can personally attest to.
Building a union, that is, an organization of workers for the purpose of fighting for the interest of workers is the central means through which you can improve your living standards. Unions allow workers to bargain with their employers as a collective and to engage in forms of labour action, such as strikes, to force their employers to offer better terms of employment. It is a known fact that unionized workers are paid significantly higher than their non-unionized counterparts. On top of that, unionized workers often enjoy benefits, more secure working hours as well as a means to fight workplace abuses by managers and the bosses.
In today’s economy crisis, it is even more important for us workers to fight for better living standards. The upper class (or capitalists) have been making billions of dollars over the past decades while tossing us working people crumbs from the table. As the world economy collapses, at the fault of bankers and big business, workers are being expected to give up their hard-won wages, working hours or to even accepts layoffs. At the same time, the pro-business politicians of the Liberal and Conservative party have taken over 100 billion dollars of our tax money, out of our pockets, to bail out these fat cats. What is clear is that unless we begin to organize ourselves, and begin to fight for our interests, we are going to see our living standards as a whole greatly reduced.
Building a union, here in Ontario, is quite straightforward but not necessarily easy. A union vote occurs once 40% of workers in a given workplace have signed union cards. This union vote, if a majority of workers vote in favor of a union, results in union certification. The Afghan-Iranian Youth Network is committed to helping workers unionize their workplaces, but the effort to win a union and to make it effective lies with workers themselves.