February 7, 1956 (22nd Parliament, 3rd Session)


Angus MacInnis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Angus Maclnnis (Vancouver-Kingsway):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to say a few words on the subject raised by the hon. member for Regina City (Mr. Ellis). I have had occasion before to speak in regard to this matter for certain civil servants. I think the time is long past when any branch of the government of Canada should adhere to the old method of asking workers to work overtime for the privilege of taking time off a little later. As far as the post office employees are concerned they are glad to do this and are ready to work overtime at a time of the year when most people like to have time with their families. But when they do this they are asked to take time off at a period in the year when there is not much else they can do except to sit at home. Surely this government is advanced enough to get away from that old way of treating employees.
I am not going to say much more in this connection. I think all that needs to be done is to draw to the attention of the government how obsolete this sort of treatment is and to ask the government to treat the civil service on the same basis as the employees of private industry are treated. Times have changed in the last few years as far as the relations of workers and employers in industry are concerned. The workers are no longer standing in daily fear of what may happen to them in their employment. They have developed organizations and are thus able to demand consideration from their employers which they never would get without such organizations.
I have not the press clipping with me but since coming down here I read an article in a paper published in Quebec-I think the incident occurred in that province-dealing with the prosecution of some employers in the lumbering industry for cruelty to the horses used in their operations. The judge was quite scathing in his remarks and he said something like this: The workers in industry have organized and can demand proper working conditions, but the horses are not in a position where they can organize, and when cases of this kind are brought before them the courts should see that animals are treated properly. I intended to bring that clipping down with me and I probably should have it, but I left it on my desk.
That brought home to me the fact that only a few years ago the workers in this industry had just as little to say about the conditions under which they had to work as the horses had. But things have changed. I suggest
Post Office Department-Labour Relations to the Postmaster General (Mr. Lapointe) that he discuss this matter with his administrative staff and I think they will soon realize how old-fashioned it is to say to an employee, "The circumstances are such that we want you to work overtime for the next two or three weeks and then a few weeks later you can take time off as we will not need your services then".
A worker should be paid for his services. If he works overtime he should receive a higher income. When he receives that higher income he should be able to do with it what he likes and in his own time and not be at the beck and call of his employer, whether that employer be the government of Canada or private industry.

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