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Ramsay Street Kids

Held to ransom

        Once again, as I write, a significant sector of New Brunswick's population is being held to ransom while a union that supposedly prides itself on its service to the public of the province, and the provincial government, which, after all, has a mandate to serve that same public, go head to head in another of an interminable series of labour disputes. In this instance, as in each of them over the past thirty years or so, the public - that same public both sides are sworn to serve - is left in the lurch.

        In the past, it has been public school students, residents of nursing homes and senior care residents, those who depend on public services for their fundamental welfare, and so on.On this occasion it is the community college students of the province who are facing unwarranted hardship. While this particular union and the government strive to sound the note of righteousness and moral superiority, these students face untold hardship if the conflict is not settled, and settled soon.

        Community college students, and those who attend classes at community college facilities (such as the student nurses in the University of New Brunswick School of Nurses, who follow their courses at the Bathurst Community College campus) are a mixed group of people. Many of them are fresh out of high school, young people who have opted to follow this route toward a post-secondary education rather than attend university. For them, the potential loss of a semester, or of a couple of courses, presents a hardship, an annoyance, a bump on the road of their future. they will recover because they have youth and time on their side. Many others, though, are older people who, for one reason or another, have become side-tracked in their lives; for them, community college courses many well represent a last chance to straighten things out. Some are single parents; for them merely getting out to courses each day represents a significant challenge. They have to forego the opportunity - such as it might be - to earn wages to provide for their children's welfare so that they can hope to provide better in the future.

        In short, these are vulnerable people. However none of that seems to matter to union spokespeople who argue for the rights of their membership, as if that is the only thing in the world to matter. Nor does it seem to matter, all too often, to government officials, who can only quote economics in their justification for maintaining the barricades.

        Surely, there has to be a better to settle labour disputes than this. Any system whereby a group can only get what it wants by victimizing the people it is supposed to serve is corrupt and bankrupt. Neither side ever deserves to "win" such a dispute; both should be condemned to a sentence of public humiliation for the travesty, rather than being allowed to proclaim that the "victory" they gained was for the good of their victims. That is nothing more than arrogant, insensitive, and very tedious nonsense.

 

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