Lionel Railton – IUOE Canadian Regional Director

Where can an operating engineer unionize?

Here’s a question: where would you rather be a worker, Canada or Saudi Arabia?

Here in Canada, operating engineers are at the heart of Canada’s energy sector. We build and maintain pipelines – and when we say 99.999% of Canadian energy products move safely by pipeline, we’re a big part of that.

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Working pipeline construction as an operating engineer is a great career. One of the main reasons that’s true are the benefits that come with working while part of a union. The International Union of Operating Engineers works hard to make sure our members enjoy a safe working environment, good wages, and a fair deal with employers. It’s a role unions have been playing for decades – building and protecting the middle class.

Canadian oil is backed by good, union jobs. You can’t say the same about our competitors abroad. Take Saudi Arabia. Even look at a few samples of the International Trade Union Confederation’s coverage of issues in that country, and you’ll see how awful it can be. In 2015, there were terrifying reports that nearly one thousand Mauritanian women were trafficked to work in Saudi Arabia as slaves.

An ITUC report found that Saudi Arabia violates essentially all core labour standards. There are no trade unions in Saudi Arabia. Strikes are banned. Collective bargaining is banned. Public demonstrations are banned. An entire structure of oppressing women dominates the country.

Lionel Railton – IUOE Canadian Regional Director