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Labour turns on the charm

30-second commercial pulls on heart strings, highlights perks everyone wants

By Todd Humber

The labour movement’s charm offensive has begun.

If you’ve been watching television in the last week or so, you’ve probably seen one of the first waves — a slick commercial from the Canadian Labour Congress. (Scroll down to view video.)

CLC is running a national advertising campaign “to remind people about the good things we all enjoy because unions bring fairness to the workplace — and to our lives,” it said. The 30-second commercial is slated to run through Nov. 17.

It’s a pretty powerful opening salvo, featuring workers holding ice cream on a stick (and who doesn’t like ice cream?) with various slogans and phrases.

“Support jobs across Canada,” reads the first one.

It’s followed by “equal pay” and “health benefits,” before a woman with her family at the cottage holds one up one that reads vacation time.

And it all wraps up with a young couple, with the woman apparently telling the man she’s pregnant, and he’s holding an ice cream that reads “paternity leave.”

The slogan the CLC has attached to it all is: “The labour movement is not just about decent jobs. It’s about a better life, for everyone.”

It's set to the tune of a 1966 classic song called "Sunny," by Bobby Hebb. The version used in the commercial is a 2013 remake of the song created just for the video.

It directs viewers to, a website that details more information.

Under an ice cream bar that reads “protect fair wages,” the CLC points out that a low-wage job in Canada is one that pays $13.60 per hour or less, and that in 2012 there were 1.4 million men and two million women in those jobs. It also highlights the income gap, claiming that Canada’s “business elite make on average 189 times more than the average Canadian wage; it was only 105 times more just 15 years ago.”

Under “vacation time is fair,” the CLC states that everyone needs a vacation.

“Should Canadians get more vacation time than the two to three weeks provided by labour standards today? We think so,” the CLC says. “That’s why the labour movement negotiates for paid vacation time that grows over time, and why the labour movement works to ensure everyone gets the time off they’ve earned.”

It’s far from scientific data, but the commercial is certainly reaching a lot of viewers — everyone I have talked to has seen it, and the early reviews are generally positive for the CLC.

Whether some nodding heads in front of a television screen actually turn into action and momentum for the labour movement remains to be seen. But expect a lot more tactics like this in the coming months.

Todd Humber is the managing editor of Canadian HR Reporter, the national journal of human resource management. He can be reached at or visit for more information.

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Todd Humber

Todd Humber is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Canadian HR Reporter, the national journal of human resource management. Follow him on Twitter @ToddHumber
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