It’s all over the media. There’s no escaping it. Whether in education, higher education, early childhood or health, workers are distressed and burning out. They feel isolated and powerless. This observation may seem harsh, but it’s the sad truth.
So how did we get here? This monumental mess is the direct result of our successive governments’ vision of public services for more than 30 years. One after the other, they’ve treated public services as an expense rather than an investment.
A vision that hurts
Treating public services and workers as expenses that need to be decreased at any cost has led to a variety of consequences that have severely undermined daily working conditions and eroded the quality of services.
Consider the lack of resources and means to offer quality services, bureaucratic and authoritarian management practices, accounting requirements, threats of sanctions, lack of professional autonomy, the lack of respect for professional judgement and knowhow, etc.
All of this leads to a significant loss of meaning in the workplace, in addition to affecting the physical and emotional health of workers. It’s therefore not surprising that a large number of workers isolate themselves and try to cope on their own.
Collective action for change
It goes without saying that the situation cannot continue this way. If we really want to change things, we need to intervene at the source of the problem by fighting against this inhumane vision of public services. And to do so, we need to act collectively, not on our own.
It’s in this spirit that the CSQ has chosen the theme of collective action for its next Congress this coming June. Delegates will debate proposals that aim to inform workers of toxic management practices and increase awareness of the fact that they are not the cause of the problem.
Educating children or adults, caring for patients, helping students with difficulties, and even advising professionals are all duties that don’t fit in standardized work processes, no matter what politicians believe.
In short, our Congress will be the opportunity to prepare a union strategy focused on collective action for achieving lasting change in our work environments and bringing humanity back into public services. We have the power to act, and together we will make things happen.