Imagine working for over 20 hours a day with no health benefits, workplace security, safety or any sort of assistance. You are working for a set wage that would not suffice the basic necessities of life for not only your family, but yourself as well. Labour law, also known as, employment law, are a body of laws, administrative judgments, and precedents which establish what the rights are for the labour force (Redgoldfish, 2010). Although these laws are enacted to uphold the rights for the working force, in many parts around the world labour laws are severely disregarded. In fact, in such places, workers are forced to work in harsh environments, under poor conditions and receive unfair compensation for their efforts. Issues in labour laws not only affect society, collective unions, and individuals, they even affect the nation as a whole. This is because in the end, it is the workforce that dictates the success of a nation’s economy.
Throughout history, conflicts between workers and employers have existed in many forms around the world. However, the first quarrel between both groups came from slavery, which dates back to 3000 BCE 1500 BCE (Glass, 2009). After the collapse of matriarchy, those of higher status introduced free slavery. During this time, owners would treat their slaves as a commodity where slaves were given the basic needs of survival, but not given their rights. Even though slaves had to be “maintained”, they were only given the minimal food, shelter and clothing to suffice the basic needs. Furthermore, between 1500 BCE to 1865, non-white individuals were enslaved and belonged to Caucasian masters (Glass, 2009). After many years of suppression, individuals began to rise up against slavery. In 1865, during the American civil war, a division formed between Northern and Southern U.S. states in regards to slavery (Glass, 2009). Eleven southern slave states wanted the succession of slavery and formed as the Confederate States of America (Glass, 2009). These states had to fight against Lincoln and the rest of the United States and lost the battle. This first rebellion against slavery took off and history was being made.
Between 1865 to the 1930s, the Masters and Servants Act was formed to control the relationship shared between employees and employers (Glass, 2009). During this period in time, employers were hiring workers and giving them low wages for jobs that deserved more money. Therefore, the Masters and Servants Act was enacted to protect employees from such injustice and unfairness. As a result, the Trade Unions Act formed so individuals could collectively stand by one another and negotiate their rights with employers (Dickenson, 655). However, “after unions formed, conflicts with employers started to escalate, and the state needed to intervene to regulate the relations was important to protect the nation’s economy” (Dickenson, 655). After a few decades, the golden age of economy formed where employers and employees lived in harmony. Between 1960 to the 1980s Section 15(2) was strongly enforced. Individuals who had been discriminated or suppressed in the past had the right to form as a collective association. Moreover, both, employers and employees were getting along, and businesses began to flourish (Dickenson, 655). From the 1980s to now, unions have begun facing problems. After Canada became a right-wing controlled country, more unions have been busted and have had their demands rejected by employers (Glas, 2009). It’s unfortunate to see that once again, individuals who have been working very hard aren’t able to have their demands met.
Canadian Charter of Rights & Freedoms
Trade Unions have become the ultimate mutual defence for collective employees. In 1867, the Supreme Court of Canada declared that the Canadian Charter guarantees the right of freedom of association from Section 2(d). According to this section, collective individuals have the right to unionize and form an association (Dickenson, 657). On the other hand, the CCRF also does not confirm any special status to be given to such organizations. For example, the freedom of association does not promise collective bargaining or the right to hold a strike. Therefore, the abilities to collective bargain or strike derive from any federal or provincial legislation, not the Canadian Charter (Dickenson, 657).
The Employment Standards Act lays out the minimum conditions of employment (Gorrie, 2009). According to this act, the minimum conditional requirements permit employees and employers to sustain a contract. For example, in the article, The Employment Standards Act states that employees and employers cannot disregard the legislation’s bare requirements by providing low wages and over working their workforce. Furthermore, unionized employees must be granted the bare minimum benefits that the Act provides (Gorrie, 2009). Overall, the Employment Standards Act is concerned with wage payments, maximum labour hours, distribution of equal pay and work, and lastly, termination of employment.
In Machtinger v. HOJ Industries Ltd., the plaintiff and Lefebvre received a wrongful dismissal and were not given enough time’s notice.
There world political spectrum illustrate various ideas, ideologies, mind sets, and values for many different people, countries and governments. The differences in such beliefs cause different governments and people to situate such beliefs throughout the political spectrum. Even within countries, many different political parties position themselves in different places on the political spectrum to represent their stance on certain issues. Located on the far left side of the political spectrum is communism, in the middle is socialism and on the far right side is capitalism.
Communists such as Karl Marx believed that “rights and freedoms were primarily illusions and were unconnected to society…exploitation of the working class by the dominant capitalist class (Woods, 2006)”. Consequently, in communist states, a government would run the states where things were equally distributed to all individuals. “Equality is much more important to society than liberty” (Woods, 2006). Economically, governments in communist countries would place a 100 % tax on all citizens for more social programs (Glass, 2009). The former USSR and Germany are examples of two countries that coincided with communism. In a communist country, the collective is more important than an individual.
Socialism is placed in the centre between Capitalism and Communism. In this political ideology, the government controls “all means of production” (Heilbroner, 2006). Socialism generated as a counter effect to capitalism in regards to economic malfunction and moral cruelty” (Heilbroner, 2006). Socialists believe that “wealth and power should be distributed only to those who have made the most impact on production (Heilbroner, 2006). There would be a 50% taxing on citizens (Glass, 2009).
Finally, Capitalism is located on the far right side of the political spectrum. Capitalism is an economic system where wealth and the production of wealth are privately owned (Ackerman, 2005). In capitalist countries, government interference in economic affairs and competition is discouraged, allowing only the forces of supply and demand take control (Glass, 2009). Some famous economists, who believed in capitalism and the free-market system, include Milton Friedman, Margret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan (Atkins, 2009).
In communist nations, wealth is something that is not equally distributed where the more money one possesses the more power he or she has over the rest of society. In fact, in such nations, there would be a higher degree of poverty for those of middle-class status. Economically, in capitalistic nations, there is a 0% taxation implemented in citizens where no money would be spent on social programs, only on the best interest of private businesses and corporations (Glass, 2009).
The Canadian political spectrum has three parties located on it: the NDP, Liberals and the Conservative party. The NDP is located closest to socialism where they have progressive economic views such as: Cutting military spending, dividing taxes towards social programs, increase minimum wage, and tax the rich and poor differently (Glass, 2009). The Liberal Party is located in the middle of the NDP party and the Conservative Party. This centrist party’s economic views consist of: Minimal military spending, taxes should be divided between social programs and individual and finally, tax the rich a little more than the poor (Glass, 2009). The Conservative Party of Canada is located on the far right side of the political spectrum. This party’s stance on economic views are: More military spending to protecting Canada, cut taxes and unnecessary social programs, and disregard labour unions from forming so businesses obtain maximum profit.
I strongly believe that labour laws needs to abide by corporations and businesses all over the world. The working-class individuals work under harsh conditions, and have the right to receive adequate compensation for their hard labour. Although Canada allows the workforce to unionize and be safeguarded against unjust businesses, these people deserve to have their needs provided to them. After many years of slavery and abuse, the working class deserve to have their rights given to them. Unlike developing countries where working conditions, wages and security is sceptical, countries such as Canada should intervene and show such nations how they can improve their economies.
- Ackerman, Frank; Lisa Heinzerling. “Priceless: On Knowing the Price of Everything and the Value of
Nothing”. New Press. pp. 277.
Atkins. Mike. “Class Lecture Notes” November, 2009.
Dickenson, Gregory ; Steven Talos, Michael Liepner. Understanding the Law. “Regulating
Employment”. pp. 665, 657. 1995. McGraw-Hill
Glass, Jamie. “Class Lecture Notes” January, 2010
Gorrie, Peter. “Grappling the Power in the workplace” Toronto Star. no date. 2010.
Heilbroner, Robert. “The Making of Economic Society” New York: Scholastic, 2006
Redgoldfish. Labour Law Definition. 2010. 2010.
Woods, Martin. “The Universal Political Spectrum”. New York: Random House Publishing Group,