L'action politique des syndicats ouvriers est souvent mal comprise. L'auteur décrit les formes qu'elle peut prendre dans notre système démocratique et en admet deux: l'orientation et l'action directe non-partisane. Il rejette l'action directe partisane.
Politics has as object the settling of relations between the government and the governed in order to realize the common good. In democratic countries the citizens are the final authority in the State and they may as of right and in fact, elect the government of their choice and insist that it legislate and administrate in the way desired by the majority.
In order to play an enlightened role, the citizen must form an accurate opinion on society's problems. It is also necessary that he may, by appropriate ways, act on his government either to guide it or to control its actions. May the union enlighten the citizen on political problems? May it influence the government in favour of the workers and in what way? In order to reply to these questions, it is necessary to place the union in the life of the nation and analyze the merits of the techniques of the following political action:
Direct partisan action;
Direct non-partisan action.
THE NATURE OF UNIONISM AND ITS INTEREST IN POLITICS
A union has not only the right but also the duty to use all legitimate means that will allow it to ensure the study, defense and promotion of the professional, economic and social interests of its members as long as the resort to any means, even honest, does not divert it from its objective.
Traditionally, unions had devoted all their energies to the organization of the profession and to the negotiation of collective agreements, using occasionally their right to strike. These traditional means of action are still essential to the survival of unionism and to the promotion of the members' welfare. Hut they are not enough, if the predominant effect of politics on the life of the worker and of his union is taken into effect. Government action constantly affects unions and their members in matters beyond the scope of the collective agreement and which can only be studied on their true merits in the political sphere.
In a true democracy, a government could not keep in power if, by its actions it no longer represented the will of the majority. The role of government is to reconcile the interests of all individuals and all groups, and not to impose programmes which do not truly represent popular needs. In so far as individuals and movements will be ready to finally come to the necessary compromise in order to realize the common good, it is essential that they be at liberty to express their demands and even their dissatisfaction. It is then, in so far as each movement or individual does not try to restrict or hinder similar liberty of otheT movements or individuals, that our laws will truly reflect the popular will. There is, therefore, no valid principle which might prevent unions from influencing the government in a way that is in conformity to their real interests and to demand their just share in national politics.
First technique of political action : INDIRECT ACTIONOR POLITICAL ORIENTATION
A union carries out indirect political action, or political orientation, when it does not try to use the government or the machinery of government, to control or to influence relations of a political nature. If it limits itself to political orientation, the union only makes known to its members or to the public, its legislative demands and requests them either to take them into account when voting or to support them in regard to the government. It does not take any official position on the subject of candidates, parties or political programmes. It does not indicate how or for whom to vote. This technique has therefore no other aim than the civic education of members and citizens.
A labour movement that is really responsible must accept its true role in the life of the nation. It must b e integrated in the nation, establish its programme of action and make it known to all those who are affected by the labour movement: government, employers and others. All workers are certainly not union members, but it would be against the spirit of democracy to ignore the well-deserved demands of union leaders. One of the main functions of parties and governments is to reconcile the divergence of interests in the country. It is therefore not only useful but essential that individuals or groups make known their needs. Thus union political orientation cannot prove an obstacle in the real task of democratic parties or governments.
Union political orientation is necessary, as the unions must be heard by the government just the same as any other group of citizens. This is a fundamental right of unionism in the modern state. This right should be encouraged and developed, as otherwise the machinery of government, of which the task is precisely to reconcile different programmes or demands coming from different environments, in order to make its acts conform to the common good, may be put out of line.
Second technique : NON-PARTISAN DIRECT ACTION
A union carries out non-partisan direct action if it limits itself to influencing the government or the representatives of the people, by manoeuvering, controlling or influencing one or several elements in the government machinery, but without desiring to exercise power itself or take the responsibility for the administration. A non-partisan union expects to remain independent in spite of the support that it feels it must grant either to a programme or to candidates or to a party favourable to the union. In other words, by refusing to identify itself with political parties or candidates, it prevents them from interfering in its own business.
In taking sides for a candidate or a party, the union does not intend to suppress all opposition to the political programme that it proposes. It only wishes that government ac'ion encourage true harmony between employers and workers and not be influenced only by groups that are hostile or indifferent to the welfare of the workers. With this aim in view but without affiliating itself, the movement will support the candidates or the party which voluntarily accepts the legislation proposed as being in 'he best interests of the nation. But this political action does not in any way force a member to become affiliated to a party or even to vote one way or another.
No doubt non-partisan political action offers some danger for the worker's movement. In a country like ours where several organizations are preferred to a single labour movement, it would be possible to see various movements supporting candidates belonging to opposite sides. A lack of foresight and carefulness, untimely gestures could bring about serious devisions within a movement. No doub , more experience will permit the unions to get around the dangers inherent in all direct political action. It is normal for the unions to constantly inform their members, as much on the probable effect of the political programmes on unionism, as on the character, honesty and capaci'ies of those who desire to be in power, if the members decide that such a non-partisan political action is honest and appropriate to the desired aims of the union, and the union movement will not be diver'ed from its objectives, they must decide themselves on the risks of this action and its intensity.
Third technique : DIRECT PARTISAN ACTION
By direct and partisan union political action, is meant all political action of the union of which the aim would be to ultimately secure power and exercise it, either alone or with other powerful associations federated in a party. Here we are using the term partisan in its most restric'ed sense. A union is partisan not because it gives some kind of support to a party but because as a union, it identifies itself with a party and becomes a part of it and as such, tries to exercise the power.
The great majority of Canadian workers grouped in unions refuse to accept the formula of direct partisan action. Logically a union could then only exercise power by delegating members to the party itself. In parliamentary rule, where a strong party discipline is necessary, a union could not keep all its liberty of action without risking to break with the party itself. The effect would be a weakening if not the downfall of a government which must be stable for the length of its mandate. In a short time, it would be the ruin of democracy. By following partisan action, affiliating itself with a party, the union would rapidly become a pure and simple instrument of government. With the undoubtedly rapid interference of Candida'es or parties in the internal affairs of the union, there would be the danger that the political affiliation of the member becomes a condition of admittance to the union. This consequence would go against a condition of true unionism which is the admittance of a member without question as to his legitimate political affiliation. Otherwise, it would only be party considerations which would regulate the relations within a union.
Political nction, even if it remains at the political orientation s'age, is a necessity in any labour movement, in view of the complexity and the interdependence of modern life. Direct and non-partisan action is possible provided that the union remains truly independent of all political connections. The extent of this non-partisan action still remains a question for the members to decide, at the same time using much care in such a delicate and explosive matter.
We believe, however, that the policy of direct affiliation (direct partisan action), will not suit the true needs of unionism. In view of the present political situation in the country, the state of mind of the electors and the majority of union members, such a policy of direct partisan action would be, in our opinion, to the great disadvantage of our unions.
Comité théologique de Lyon
La nature des procédés modernes d'investigation de la personne humaine pose des problèmes d'ordre moral et social sur lesquels le Comité théologique de Lyon attire l'attention dans cet article. Une définition de la psychotechnique en soulignant les conditions actuelles de ses applications amène à l'examen des questions morales que cette nouvelle technique soulève, des droits et devoirs que possèdent le psychotechnicien, l'employeur et les travailleurs eux-mêmes dans ce domaine.
The main objective of psycho-technique takes its inspiration from principles that have long been admitted, among which "the right man at the right place" is one. What this new technique brings that is really new is the methods that it mobilizes in the service of this old ideal, methods of investigation of the human personality inspired by the recent acquisitions of psychological science. The nature of these modern procedures of which more and more use is being made in the labour world, cause problems of an ethical order to which we must give consideration.
I—What is Psycho-technique?
The first ambition of psycho-technique was to give exact information on professional aptitudes. However, the field of investigation of the psycho-technician was widened by the force of circumstances. At this point all psychology was called upon to contribute to the knowledge of the individual as a whole. From a simple examination of work aptitudes, it has proceded to a1 temps to probe all the constituent factors of the personality and this in connection with vocational guidance or selection. Even if we should confine ourselves to the ethical aspect of the question, in order to be realistic, the ethical judgment must take into account other aspects: scientific, economic, social, juridical, political and ethical. All these points of view overlap each other and each one offers angles of an ethical nature.
II—The Ethical Problems of Psycho-technique
1. Psycho-technician remains in the first place the specialist who examines and measures the individual aptitudes, the capacity for professional work from the angle of their efficiency. The psychotechnician, being a man, must act in accordance to ethics. The scientific conscience thus becomes for him an obligation of individual and social justice.
2. From the fact that the psycho-technician penetrates further into the intimacy of the people he examines, further obligations are imposed on him. He is obliged to show discretion which is equivalent to the most strict professional secret.
3. An instrument as sensitive as that which opens slightly the secrets of the human subconsciousness, requires for its use, a highly-developed skill and preparation. Errors become much more serious in this field and more harmful. Whereas the one who spontaneously seeks out the psychiatrist of psycho-analyst offers himself voluntarily for examination and gives him of his own free will any information, no matter how intimate, in the professional sector, the situation changes completely when the psycho-technique intervenes at the employer's request. It violates a natural right of the human person, the right to the secret of his inner being. It is for this reason that there exists certain fundamental rights and obligations of the psycho-technician, of the employer and of society.
Ill—Rights and Obligations of the Psycho-technician
The professional conscience requires the psycho-technician to acquire sufficient formation; to study conscientiously his investigations; that he base his verdicts on tests which have been proved; that he does not formulate his observations which he communicates to others or the subject himself in such ambiguous terms that they may cause serious trouble; that he does not reveal to a third person condidential or intimate information; that he does not lend himself to interested calculation on the part of the employer; that he treats the exercise of his profession as a social service. The psycho-technician has therefore the right to refuse to help in certain circumstances, to insist in the necessary time to make thorough investigations, to establish such conditions as will permit him to live from his work, while keeping the necessary independence of judgment.
IV—Rights and Obligations of the Employer
The employer has the right to make use of the services of a competent psycho-technician for the professional examination of possible future employees, for a subsequent selection of manual or intellectual workers. He has not, however, the right to impose on his employees as a condition of employment, psychological examinations which probe their inner personality, to require from the psycho-technician, the communication of observations of an intimate nature, without the consent of those interested, to force the specialist to make too rapid examinations, to place the responsibility on the psycho-technician alone of hiring, refusing or laying-off the personnel. The employer has the obligation of assuming his social responsibilities as a human partner with the employees who are men and not machines, to make discreet use, respecting personal secrecy and only to hire competent psycho-technicians.
V Rights and Obligations of the Workers
The psycho-technique is made to serve the employee as much as the employer and the whole of society. Its inconsidered use may, however, cause serious injury to the workers, as its use by incompetent "amateurs", its commercialization by unscrupulous profiteers, its organization as a private service of enterprises in the larger industries. It herefore seems necessary to establish a legal basis for psycho-technique which is gradually becoming a public service.
VI—Towards a Legal Basis for Psycho-technique
In fact, it would appear at present to be necessary to consider the interference of the State, for the workers:
to guarantee the right of the candidate to a counter-appraisal;
to limit the zone of investigation to the professional aptitudes and psychological factors in close connection with them;
to impose on the psycho-technicians the obligation of the professional secret.
For the psycho-technician:
to forbid the exercise of the profession without the necessary qualifications;
to enlarge this prior formation of the psycho-technician so that he would be a complete psychologist in all aspects of human life, personal and social.
For the employers:
to replace the present system, by a public service of psycho-technique;
to avoid the State succeeding the present anarchy by establishing the psycho-technique on a professional basis under the control of the State.
Une première étude sur les décisions arbitrales dans le Québec, 1950-1952, a été publié antérieurement dans le numéro de mars dernier. Le même auteur essayait alors d'y déceler les principaux problèmes que considèrent les tribunaux d'arbitrage. Dans l'analyse précédente, les seules comparaisons possibles se faisaient avec les données des conventions collectives: dans cette analyse-ci l'auteur, compare le contenu des recommandations avec celles de l'an dernier.
The labour disputes which go to arbitration increase from year to year in the Province of Quebec. This is not necessarily an alarming fact because of the various factors which help to explain it. The union memberships as well as the agreements in force have increased considerably during recent years. The keener economic competition, the harder struggle for markets and the decrease in the •consumer demand have strengthened the resistance of employers to union demands. The lack of confidence of union leaders in governmental services certainly make the workers' side touchy and brings to arbitration some disputes that could have, in a more peaceful atmosphere, been settled by conciliation.
Among the union federations, the C.C.C.L. comes first with the highest proportion of arbitrations required by the unions affiliated with it. The grievances which have necessitated arbitration have increased because of the lack of technical training of the labour leaders, of the increasing complexity of the methods of production and ways of remuneration.
The arbitrations recommend working conditions inferior to current conditions in the industry or if they contain similar advantages, it is after a certain delay. This is what might be called the "theory of readjustment" to define the economic function of arbitration. The recommendations in regard to wages in 1952-53 make a good example: whereas during the two preceding years when wages in industry had increased rapidly, the increases proposed by arbitration had been inferior to them; during the last year, when a certain wage, stabilization was under way, the arbitration boards have recommended increases higher than the average increase in industry. Retroactivity which is the best instrument for readjustment in working conditions was also included more often in the past year.
The stipulations respecting holidays, hours of work and paid statutory holidays show the same tendencies as industry, but they are weaker or behind time. Only the arbitration recommendations for three weeks vacation require a shorter length of continuous service than the clauses to be found in agreements.
The same phenomenon of increasing similarity between the proposals and arbitrations and the facts would be noticed in the union security clauses if it were not for the legalism which prevail against this point.
The arbitration boards keep to, in their recommendations, clauses of which the legality is recognized and refuse more and more to grant formulas of the compulsory type. The compulsory clauses are proposed less frequently and are refused in a large number of cases. The union requests are also less exacting on this point. The employers attempt to change the favourable clauses that they had accepted in previous agreements.
Union security raises the question of union liberty which is at the base of the labour laws of the Province. The object of the law is to protect the right of each worker to belong to the association of his choice. However, from the time a union is certified, it is recognized by the law as the sole bargaining agent in the enterprise concerned. During the whole year, except during the eleventh month of the agreement when the workers may change affiliation, the liberty of association for non-union workers consists in becoming, or not becoming, a member of the union legally certified or only in belonging to another union which for the present cannot act.
The rapid turnover of the presidents of arbitration boards and their members shows the difficulty in securing qualified persons. The Province of Quebec has not succeeded in forming a body of competent arbitrators, qualified to acquire the confidence of the workers and the employers. The solution is to enlarge their field of knowledge, to furnish them with standards and statistics which will permit them to judge in a clearer way and finally to be able to hold meetings where a common analysis of the problems would help them to render more acceptable awards.
The length of arbitration procedures is also another aspect to which some attention should be directed. Many boards take longer than the delay of three months fixed by law to give their award. The causes of delay should then be examined and a system organized which would result in more rapid procedure.
The wording of the awards is often vague. The objects which have been discussed are badly defined or not sufficiently specified. Perhaps a uniform method of awards would help indicate the exact extent of points under litigation and would make it possible to carry on more extended research.
Research of a scientific character should be undertaken on the function of arbitration.
The study of cases would be valuable in determining the real objects in dispute in most arbitrations. At what point does arbitration constitute a notable step in the settlement of disputes, to what extent do the recommendations of the board serve as a basis or at least simplify the negotiations after arbitration? A systematic analysis after examination of methods used outside the Province, discussions and studies of similar problems would greatly help to come to a scientific method of procedure for solving labour disputes. It would be a sign of lack of responsibility to continue to allow to operate in such a way an arbitration system which often plays an important part in the settlement of disputes.
L'auteur de cet article qui possède une expérience de quatorze ans dans les relations patronales-ouvrières au service de l'Association des Marchands détaillants du Canada, Québec, Inc. analyse succinctement les causes du malaise qui sévit actuellement dans le commerce de détail de la province de Québec et propose des remèdes.
Up to now, in the retail trade, the employers' experience of collective labour negotiations has been limited almost exclusively to the decrees.
The negotiation of individual agreements in the establishments creates difficulties causing conflicts which in turn are obstacles in the creation of harmonious relations.
The analysis of these conflicts leads us to establish the following facts. On one hand, the employer used to dictate to his personel his own working conditions without any other interference than that of the State, refuses to accept the idea of being obliged to deal with the representatives of his employees. His first reaction is one of defence. He misunderstands why his employees have decided to join a union and considers that by doing so they are not being loyal to the enterprise. Instead of accepting the union as a reality and negotiating with it, he begins to fight it by finding reasons to get rid of the workers belonging to the union.
On the other hands the workers in trade are trying to improve their situation at the rythm of their fellow-workers in industry, by joining unions. The difficulties which the union finds in negotiating an agreement as well as the perspective of an ever-possible dismissal brings them to disregard their union. From this there is a reaction of the union leaders and measures taken by them to hold their members and maintain the existence of the union.
The employer has no objection to the decree which puts all his competitors on the same basis as himself by establishing identical wages and hours of labour in all the enterprises in the same district, but he refuses to negotiate individual agreements which place him on an unequal basis. On the other hand, the decree is detrimental to the union; for example, the employees are not forced to belong to the union to benefit from the advantages that this decree gives them. Because of this lack of interest on behalf of the employees covered by the decree, it is weakened and even rendered invalid.
In view of this situation the Federation des employés de Commerce has obtained the cancellation of about ten decrees and has recommended to all its affiliated unions to negotiate in the future either a general agreement before the decree is put in force or individual collective agreements higher than the decree, or individual collective agreements without the decree.
In all these collective agreements an attempt is made to introduce clauses of union security in addition to the economic clauses.
The insecurity of the union has become the stumbling-block of the decrees.
The employer does not want to accept either collective agreement or union security but he is willing to accept the decree; the union replies by requesting union security in order to keep on with the decree.
The problem of labour relations in trade has two other aspects which cause conflicts. The unions have a tendency to compare the conditions of trade to that of industry and to treat them in the same way. The collective agreement should not be applied to a group restricted to a locality but should extend over a whole economic region.
It must not be concluded from this account, that in the retail trade there is only stained relations. There are happily some exceptions.
An education must be made on the side of the employers in order to get them to understand unionism and on the side of the employees so that they avoid profiting from certain situations to dictate their conditions instead of negotiating.
The interest of the retail trade lies in cooperation and not in struggle.
Jurisprudence du travail
Dans cette chronique-ci, nous reproduisons, en partie, le texte de la sentence arbitrale rendue, et du rapport minoritaire y annexé, dans le cas de Price Brothers & Co. Ltd., où la question de la retenue syndicale volontaire et révocable est étudiée d'une manière particulière.
Récemment, sa Sainteté le Pape Pie XII prononçait des discours intéressants sur ce sujet en s'adressant aux industriels américains et aux ingénieurs.
Le Saint-Père a adressé l'allocution suivante, en français, aux participants du XXVIIe Congrès de la Société internationale pour renseignement commercial.
Méthodes pratiques d'accroissement de la productivité : principes généraux d'utilisation des systèmes de rémunération au rendement
Livres et revues / Books and Reviews
Bibliographie sur l'organisation professionnelle, collection Etudes et recherches sociales, no. 4 — octobre 1953. 1 volume, 44 pages. Prix: $1.00
CAMPBELL, Ralph N., "Human Relations in Industry", Reprint Series Number 15, New York State School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, 5 pp., 1953.
SMITH, May, "An Introduction to Industrial Psychology", Cassell and Company Ltd., London 1952, 295 pp.
All Rights Reserved © Département des relations industrielles de l’Université Laval, 1953