CANADA - The furore surrounding public sector pensions has escalated after the nation's largest trade union body threatened a campaign against the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) over its criticism of pension costs.
CFIB president Anne Swift hit out at “unjustifiable and unfair” public pensions in a report, and told Global Pensions they were unsustainable and could potentially “wreck the economy”.
Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) president Kenneth Georgetti responded to Swift in a letter and claimed: “Unfortunately, you have caused quite a stir within labour’s ranks, as many activists have asked us to develop a campaign to approach CFIB member businesses given your insulting comments.” Georgetti added he “urgently” needed Swift’s help in avoiding such a campaign.
Swift said that statement constituted a threat “of sorts”, and added: “I have always found it interesting that the unions want their absolute freedom to express their views but don’t seem to want anyone else to have that right.”
Georgetti also called on CFIB to “rethink” the conclusions in its report, but Swift refused, claiming the findings were “bang on”.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) has also become embroiled in the escalating dispute, branding CFIB’s criticism as “short on facts” and a “mean-spirited and economically illiterate attack on the public sector”.
Despite the severe criticism, CFIB maintained its stance and Swift insisted the federation would pursue the issue.
“I don’t believe [public pensions] are sustainable,” she claimed. “How much more tax can we pay? And if you look at economic productivity, when you are increasingly paying a non-productive sector – you don’t generate wealth in government – you are eventually going to wreck your economy.
“We are not giving up by any stretch. We want to go forward with this... and I suspect there will be more clashes ahead.”
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