Dans le présent essai, l'auteur tente de reformuler les exigences contemporaines de l'organisation professionnelle et la nature de ses relations avec le syndicalisme tel qu'il existe présentement. A cette fin, il entreprend de clarifier les notions d'organisation professionnelle et de syndicalisme, de situer ces deux réalités dans leur ordre propre et de montrer selon quel mode les relations doivent s'établir entre elles. Il insiste en particulier sur la nécessité de l'organisation syndicale préalable à l'avènement d'une organisation professionnelle adaptée aux besoins modernes ainsi que sur les moyens actuels de collaboration qui s'offrent présentement aux agents de l'économie.
To speak about professionnal organization with regards to the present economic and social context is to use a notion which is still very misunderstood, very often badly applied, and in several sectors, rejected in advance as constituting an attempt to freedom and a return to dark ages. Curiously enough, if we only superficially consider the phenomenon, it is especially from the organizations which have grown out of the flagrant gaps of the regime of individual liberty characterizing the beginnings of our social era, that the incomprehension and the negative attitudes have been the most strongly expressed in respect to the concept of professionnal organization. One seems, at the same time, to ask for a change in the actual socio-economic realm without giving-up the immediate profit one can get from the characteristics of the regime to which, however, one is opposed.
Professionnal organization constitutes without any doubt, and in spite of the protests which inevitably greet the mention of it one of the options opened to the present world of labour in order to perfect the work already done with respects to social structure and working conditions. This can be so on one condition, however, the professional organization must adapt itself to modern society and be based on fundamental ideas of democracy and liberty as we conceive them in our milieu.
If we refer to social history of the last thirty years or so in Quebec we notice that most of those expounding the traditional thought have seen the professionnal organization, not so much from the point of view of the dynamics of such a system but above all, as a complex of structures encovering the entire economy. Assuming the necessity of establishing a certain order within the liberal society those spokesmen advocated an organization of the many professionnal and industrial sectors through a complete system juridically sanctionned by the positive law of the state. They refuted the marxist arguments based on the historic dialectics and contended that even within a system of liberal economy and of private property of the means of production, not only the class struggle is unnecessary, but definitely, the common interests of the different professionnal groups were inviting them to cooperate in an organic and permanent way.
How can we be surprised that such a conception of professionnal organization (which was also called at that time «corporatism») juridically and structurally requiring the organic collaboration of the weaker among the economic agents with the leaders of industry, was regarded by individuals and groups eager for liberty as a right-minded ideology fed with good intentions but somewhat chimerical and even very dangerous to freedom, had it ever been realized.
We think that the time has come to think about professionnal organization along with new concepts and formulas. If the economic agents, individuals in the liberal professions or others, workers in industry and unions do not do so the government will inevitably fill in the gap with all the good and evil this might bring with such an action.
We will not try at this point to define professionnal organization as a « system ». We will rather attempt to show the means by which the economic agents may work together to the solution of their common problems, taking into account the condition and limits of such a cooperation.
PROFESSIONNAL ORGANIZATION AND UNIONISM
The expression « professionnal organization », means any structured way of representing and administering a profession or «calling». The expression «profession » covers any natural group of individuals and enterprises contributing to the performance of a same service to the community or to the production and marketing of the same economic goods, of a product or group of products, the production of which is carried on through a common technology. These are, we believe, the true criteria of a « profession » from which we must envisage the professionnal organization.
The notion of professionnal organization cannot be used to cover all kinds of associations existing among trades and industrial sectors. These associations (labour unions, for example) represent various interest groups facing each other within the profession. Therefore we must not confuse professionnal organization with unionism.
The role of professionnal organization is to endow the profession as already described of some representative and administrative organs capable of representing it amongst the other professions and toward the entire community (governmental bodies and the general public). It also has to manage the « profession » for the best interest of its members and the public in general by controlling the recruitement of members (academic requirements) and their activity (professionnal requirements, code of ethics, etc.). The trade union, on the other hand, has as its first obligation, to represent, to protect and to promote the interests of its members within the profession according to the contribution they bring to the performance of the services or to the production of goods within the profession. The union acts on the labour market, while the profession acts on that of the products or services.
The professionnal organization is represented as to its structure by the professionnal corporation. This means that the latter must not be substituted to the labour union in the matter of claims on the labour market. It must not encroach on the right of its members to freely become members of a union, under the pretext that they already are members of a professionnal corporation.
NECESSARY LABOUR UNION DIFFUSION AND COLLABORATION BETWEEN ORGANIZED GROUPS
Professionnal organization requires that the different functional groups be formed in associations and that these associations contribute to the improvement of the profession. This assumes that there cannot be any genuine professionnal organization if it is not based on already existing labour and management associations capable of co-operation between themselves. These two ideas, first: the necessary presence of labour and management associations and second: the cooperation between such associations presently constitute so many fundamental prerequisites to any true professional organization.
About the cooperation needed between labour and management associations it must not be looked at as denying the necessity of conflict when many liberties face each other in a regime of free industrial relations as ours.
It must try to achieve the best possible balance between these different liberties by means of systematized bargaining and ever renewed compromises between the groups of interests. In such a process unions do not have to give up any traditional means of revendication on the labour market; collective bargaining and the eventual recourse to economic strength need not be abandoned. Nothing prevents the parties, with the passage of time, from developing more positive forms of cooperation.
To this end it is essential, however, that we cease analysing our industrial relations system in marxian terms, i.e. in terms of irremediable class struggle. We cannot any longer identify as being class struggle what is only in reality a diverging opposition of interests between functional groups using their respective rights. It is in a new perspective, a functional perspective that we must consider industrial relations.
Unions, in such a view, are no longer the representatives of a class against another but the normal agents of the various functional groups of the economy entrusted to represent them and to promote their respective interests.
THE DEMOCRATIC CHARACTER OF ORGANIZED GROUPS
It is essential to a sound professionnal organization that the democracy be respected within the organized groups. Any effective cooperation between economic agents requires that their leadership adopt a realistic attitude free of any emotional tone in the conduct of their affairs. It is also essential that adequate control be exercised on the leaders of organized groups in order to prevent them from any abuse of power and any bureau-cratic excess.
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CARDIN, JEAN-RÉAL, avocat (B.C.L., McGill), M.A. Rel. Ind. (Université de Montréal), études graduées en Economique, Sociologie et Relations industrielles (Université de Chicago), professeur au Département des Relations industrielles de l'Université Laval.