Odd Thoughts: Special day for labour education

Let’s look on the bright side. There won’t likely be a lot of kids having to slog through writing one of those “What I did for my summer vacation” essays next week.

Speaking of essays for the end of summer, B.C.’s Minister of Labour Shirley Bond got one of those out of the way early this week.

And very thoughtful of her, too.

To ensure that we were entirely aware of just how thoughtful she was being, she appended this note: “Exclusive early distribution to help meet community newspaper Labour Day publication deadlines.”

Every year, we receive the obligatory minister’s statement reminding us of the approach of Labour Day and congratulating the labour force on the great job it is doing at keeping the province’s economy running and being… well… all-round wonderful people, because, after all, that’s what Labour Day is for: to celebrate labour and the people who do it.

Right? (Or should I say “left?”)

“Observing Labour Day on the first Monday of September,” explains Minister Bond for those unaware of the significance of the one day a year set aside for labourers (interestingly, Moms only get one day, too), “provides us with an opportunity to give thanks to the hard-working British Columbians who built our great province and made it an even greater place to live, work, and raise our families.”

In her warm and fuzzy (and early) statement she waxes eloquent on the importance of a worker’s right to “come home safely at the end of the day,” and makes pointed reference to “the efforts by the labour movement and governments present and past” to improve working conditions and protect workers’ rights.

She doesn’t get into details – it’s just a happy-dance statement from the Labour Minister about Labour Day – so naturally there’s no mention of strikes and strike-breakers, riots and riot-police, court injunctions and fines, broken limbs and burned-out buildings that constitute the “collaboration” over the years between government and employers and unions that resulted in begrudging accessions “to make workplaces safer and improve worker safety.”

And yes, there were also a few collaborative deaths along the way.

Today’s teachers – latecomers to the union movement, after all – might have a bit of difficulty attaching the word “collaboration” to their current relationship with Christy Clark and Peter Fassbender and their magnanimous employers group, BCPSEA. But that’s only because most of them probably know what the word “collaboration” actually means.

If they’re not already throwing things at the wall, they need to read the part in Bond’s Happy Labour Day missive where she outlines the importance of a good education to ensuring a strong and viable workforce to take us into the future.

“By 2022,” the pro-education, pro-labour, pro-happy (and early) statements minister predicts, “there will be one million job openings in B.C., along with an increase in demand for more skills training and higher education.”

But because I love irony (and there’s no better irony than the irony found in politicians’ statements), here’s the line that draws a dry chuckle out of me every time I read it: “As part of our goal to maximize the potential of our existing workforce and prepare our young workforce of the future, we have developed the Skills for Jobs Blueprint, a plan that will provide today’s youth with a seamless path of education and training beginning in school…”

Uhmmm… starting in October, is my guess.

Bond. Shirley Bond. Licence to shill. Like her fellow cabinet ministers, she prefers her education stirred, but not shaken.

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