I am prepared to leave it at that. The first letter is as follows:
Ottawa Typographical Union No. 102
Ottawa, Nov. 5, 1951
Mr. J. F. Pouliot, M.P.,
House of Commons,
Hansard for October 30, 1951, on page 561, contains a statement by you, speaking to Mr. Stanley Knowles, M.P., to the effect that the wages in the printing bureau are established by statute, being subsection 3 of section 16 of the Public Printing and Stationery Act (R.S., Chap. 162.).
The act referred to establishes a maximum above which the wages in the bureau cannot be raised. It sets no minimum. Likewise, it sets no time period during which the wage rates in the bureau must be adjusted with the wage rates in Montreal and Toronto when new wage rates are negotiated in those cities. As a rule, the bureau is at least six months behind Montreal and Toronto in establishing new wage rates, and they are never made retroactive for any period of time approaching six months.
The act establishes a ceiling over the wages paid in the bureau, and nothing else. It does not set the rate of wages. In support of this statement, we enclose a copy of a letter from R. B. Bryce, assistant deputy minister of finance and secretary to the treasury board, clearly stating this fact. Such a clear statement from such a source should be acceptable, and we hope you will find it so and, perhaps, correct the statement attributed to you in Hansard.
You will note that Mr. Bryce states: "The rates
currently authorized for printing trades employees of the bureau have been based on rates prevailing in Ottawa." Yet Hansard quotes you as saying: "Just before the minister answers the hon. member" (Mr. Knowles) "may I say that he must know that the rate of wages is fixed by statute" and "my hon. friend" (Mr. Knowles) "knows, and he knows that the wages paid at the printing bureau are exactly the same $1.65 per hour."
We respectfully submit that the wages in the bureau are not fixed by statute. As stated above, they are only limited by a very ambiguous statute.
We also respectfully call your attention to the fact that the phrase "the same $1.65 per hour" betrays a surprising lack of information. The rate in
Toronto has been more than $1.65 for a long time. At the present time, the $1.65 rate of wages in Montreal has expired and negotiations are in progress, the employees asking for more than $2 per hour. In Toronto, the employees have refused to accept an offer of $1.87 per hour and the matter is in the hands of a board of conciliation.
The same Hansard also attributes to you the statement that a former union official was defeated in the last election because the members of the union did not support his policies in regard to the printing bureau. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In so far as the policies of the union are concerned in relation to the printing bureau, including the institution of the five-day week, the withdrawal of order in council P.C. 6190, etc., there has been no change whatever, neither on the part of the union officers nor the employees in the bureau.
The policy of the union regarding the five-day week, P.C. 6190, and working conditions in general in the bureau have been stated repeatedly by this union and is in line with the policy of allied printing trades throughout Ontario, a fact attested to by the two resolutions passed by the Ontario federation of printing trades, copies of which we enclose. The federation, and this union, have repeatedly called attention to the fact that the government's labour policy, as applied in the printing bureau, is undermining the working conditions of the entire industry throughout Ontario and western Quebec.
Inasmuch as this union's policy was made the subject of debate in the house, we are taking the liberty of forwarding copies of this letter and the enclosed exhibits to the other hon. members involved, Secretary of State Bradley and Mr. Stanley Knowles. We feel confident that, as a seasoned member of the house, you will concede that they should, in fairness, be informed of the union's actual stand as well as yourself.
We hope that this letter will serve the purpose of furnishing you with the true facts of the case. If it is agreeable to you, we would be glad to meet you and discuss this matter at your convenience.
J. A. LeBlanc
President Jack Fry
The letter from the hon. member for Temiscouata is as follows:
Ottawa, November 9, 1951
Mr. J. A. LeBlanc,
4651 St. Patrick street,
I acknowledge receipt of your letter of November 5 with reference to what I said in the house on October 30 about the prevailing rate of wages at the printing bureau.
The rate paid for similar work in the, cities of Montreal and Toronto shall be the ceiling for the rate of the printing bureau in virtue of a statutory provision the text of which I quoted in my remarks.
Mr. Knowles stated that the rates in Montreal and Toronto were higher than at the bureau; that statement was not correct, because, in the second page of your letter, you agree that the basic rate in Montreal is $1.65 and the same as it is at the printing bureau. You add that it has expired (in Montreal) and that negotiations are in progress, but I am sure that you will agree that $1.65 remains the prevailing basic rate in Montreal as long as the parties concerned have not entered into a new agreement. Therefore, as I said in the house, the
prevailing rate agreed to last spring for the printing bureau is the same as the prevailing rate in Montreal at the present time. The ceiling rate for the printing bureau and the Montreal rate were the same on October 30 ultimo, and they will remain such until new agreements are entered in due course.
To make sure about the Toronto rate, I called the treasury board who informed me that the prevailing rate in Toronto, at the time of the last revision in the printing bureau, was $1,671 or 21 cents more than the basic rate paid in Montreal. I am sure that you will agree that neither in virtue of the statute nor of P.C. 6190 is the treasury board bound to fix the maximum rate of Montreal or Toronto as the rate for the printing bureau. But, in your case, the treasury board has been very fair for the bureau. The printers may get 2J cents less than the Toronto rate, but they get as much as Montreal and 10 or 15 cents more than those engaged in other printing firms located in your own city of Ottawa.
I have read with care the letter from Mr. R. B. Bryce, assistant deputy minister of finance and secretary of the treasury board. I have noted that this letter was dated July 11, 1950, when the rates of the printing bureau were those prevailing in Ottawa. As it was sent to you before the last revision of wage rates which came in force in the printing bureau last spring, I am quite surprised that you sent it to me, because the Ottawa rates are now less than at the printing bureau.
You cannot expect any opinion about the labour week nor the withdrawal of P.C. 6190, because it is a matter of government policy.
On a question of privilege, may I say that I have the greatest respect for my colleagues in the house and that when I have a complaint to make about one of them, I notify him in advance in order that he may be here to reply. 1 had dinner in town, and afterwards I came here with a friend of mine who is in the gallery; then I went up to my office to read my correspondence. A colleague came to my office and said that the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre was attacking me in the chamber. I could not believe it; but I came down to the chamber and found that it was true. What was true? That he was attacking me. I do not complain about that. Opinions are free. But it would have been shorter if I had been here at the start.
What did I say when the hon. member started to complain about the wages of the printing staff at the printing bureau? I am not a member of any union and I do not boast that I am; but I know as much about printing as does the hon. member; and I have as much admiration as he has for the personnel of the printing bureau who are doing an excellent job.
There is a great difference between the personnel of the bureau and the union. I have never been terrorized by any union leaders for the very good reason that I have done their job most of the time when they were parading around with big gold chains and
Public Printing and Stationery Act smoking big cigars. That is my experience in my county where I have eight hundred railway men. During the railway strike I was called upon by the strikers to address them. The first thing I told them-and I do not know whether other members of parliament would use the same language-was this. I said: Gentlemen, I thank you for having honoured me with the invitation to address you. With regard to the strike, I will tell you that I have always fought for you and nearly always against the unions. They said: "You are right, Jean-Frangois." That does not mean that I gave the cold shoulder to the men in overalls because, during the war, I was one of the few who defended them and wanted the country to respect them because their work was essential to the war effort. They respected me also. The hon. gentleman would not have uttered the second sentence if he had delivered that speech in my county.
What is the story? It is obvious. I said one thing that I will not retract. The union men and the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre know that it is true. There was an agitator, by the name of Ford, who came out and cursed everybody. What happened to him was this. A week or two after he had been using such bad language in order to arouse the members of the union he was defeated by three to one. My hon. friend knows it. His name is Ford. He knows it. And he had to go. He was defeated!, poof.
said and I must dot my i's and cross my t's to make my hon. friend understand, although he is clever at everything else.
Now, sir, what is the second point? I said that the printers were receiving the maximum salary. Perhaps there was a shade of difference in the terms that I used. What they receive cannot be any more than the ceiling, and the ceiling is the maximum rates of pay paid to printers in Montreal and Toronto. That is the ceiling. And in order to be fair with the committee at the time, and in order that there should be no more discussion about it, I quoted the text of the provision of the statute establishing the rates of salaries at the printing bureau. My hon. friend said, and this is in the correspondence-my hon. friend who is always right when he is alone to expound his views-that the rate at Montreal and Toronto is higher than that of Ottawa. That was partly true and partly false, because I inquired from the treasury board. I wanted to tell the truth; I always do. Sometimes there may be a slight difference in the expression of views, but I do not want to
Don't get excited; keep quiet. I am going on. And then, sir, in April last, or in the spring, $1.65 was the maximum rate of the printers in Montreal. It is still the same thing. The unions have been asking for more, but until they have entered into a new agreement it is the basic rate of the spring that still counts. The $1.65 is the maximum at Montreal, and therefore I am right about that.