While there is over helming evidence that massive changes in the economy, nationally as well as internationally, call for fresh thinking about labour-management relations and job creation, the recent convention of the Ontario of Labour decided to withdraw its representatives from the Ontario Quality of Working Life Centre because it fears that the Centre is “designed ultimately to weaken trade unions as effective workers’ organizations.”
The OFL declared that “the adversarial approach of industrial relations is not an outdated method of operation, but the only means by which we have been able to make important gains and improvements.” A United Auto Workers delegate thought that the real aim of Quality of Working Life is to make more profits. And thus the die-hard traditionalists, though opposed by a minority, scored another victory for confrontational labour-management relations. No doubt this attitude is also reflected in the decision of the OFL delegates to express their support for the striking British coal miners.
The delegates to the OFL convention also issued calls for a shorter work week, more government intervention, portable pensions, the right to strike for all workers, and control by workers over technological change. Most of these demands would only add to the rigidities of collective bargaining, and it is precisely these rigidities that stand in the way of a healthy economy and therefore of job creation. The majority of the OECD countries have acknowledged this to be true and are making attempts to rid themselves of these rigidities. But the OFL, or at least its leadership, seems oblivious to this reality.