With respect to the companies, generally long term strategic planning in every organization and long term objectives take precedence over short term solutions. The corporate culture is changing, whether it is the pulp industry, the mining industry, or any other industry, but employees are generally having difficulties coping, not so much with change, but this unheralded pace of change.
And you can say British Columbia has not gotten into major problems in terms of organizations folding, whether they are mining companies, whether they are pulp companies or whether they are forest companies. I can tell you, and you would know from your experience, that change has been more acceptable to employees and unions particularly when the companies are in deep trouble, and the only way to save from going down is to adjust to change and make changes in the collective agreement and work jurisdiction etc. So when somebody heralds to you about all the changes that have been made back in Ontario in terms of operator flex, trade flex and all the other different kinds of flexes that are going on, keep in mind there is context in which those changes took place. It was either you do it or you're gone. What happens in British Columbia, the unions have not gotten accustomed to the pace of change because they haven't had the repercussions from the results of change to look at and say, unless we do, this is what will happen.
Both business and labour, and I emphasize both business and labour, recognize that poor labour management relations are detrimental to today's competitive environment. Business recognizes that in a unionized operation, both the union and the employees must buy in to, at least partially, corporate objectives. I am speaking from my background as former union representative and business representative - I believe that unions are becoming more pragmatic through better business knowledge. Most recognize the need for the business to continue to be viable in order to protect jobs. I say don't sell their practical side too short, perhaps they are not in the same pace mode that you are in, and your companies are in, but they are in change mode. It might be crawling along like a tortoise and it's not running like a hare, but their minds are changing. I see it every day whether I am dealing with private sector or public sector, unions are becoming much more progressive and able to adjust to that new context. Unions and employers are having to face up to the need to align corporate and labour objectives. They can't go off in one way with a corporate objective and then clash every day with labour objectives, or labour initiatives, by the union.
Higher levels of trust, disclosure and cooperation between labour and management are vital if businesses are to succeed. What are the companies doing? What is their agendas? What the companies are striving to achieve is increased flexibility. In hours of work, in work assignments, yes in contracting out work, and in the ability to make changes quickly without going through numerous rigmarole. What's the unions emphasis? Well, the unions emphasis is on job security and protection against undo contracting out, and on the other hand enhancing the pension plans so that workers could leave with dignity.