Undercover in Temp Nation | How not to oppose free trade with China | NAFTA Renegotiations | Almost half of Canadian employees living paycheque to paycheque | Teamsters strike at Pearson airport | Dockworkers show how the labour movement can shutdown fascists | Canadian Taxpayers Federation gets it wrong on public sector sick days | Privatization of extramural nursing in New Brunswick an ‘erosion of care,’ union says | Whistleblower scientist not entitled to get job back, court rules | NDP Insiders Prepare to Lobby Victoria on Behalf of Corporate Clients | Toronto’s Somali community fights for workers’ rights, mental health supports | Halifax outside workers rally at City Hall in defense of their pensions | Federal workers fed up with Phoenix | Nova Scotia unions ask to be included in legal review of wage-freeze law | TTC Union says it will conduct own air quality assessment | #Mcstrike in the UK
Dockworkers show how the labour movement can shutdown fascists
RankandFile.ca, September 8
The labor movement has been greatly weakened by decades of anti-unionism, but the ILWU and Local 10 remain unbowed. Other unions should follow their lead. And, for the 89 percent of American workers not in unions, they must be reminded that individual acts of resistance—while noble—are nowhere as effective as collective action. Sadly, there will be many more opportunities to act.
How not to oppose free trade with China
RankandFile.ca, September 7
Instead of chauvinistic campaigns like “buy Canadian,” the answer to the rise of precarious work and other declining conditions for workers is to rebuild and reorient the labour movement to the reality of the today’s industries in advanced economies. That means raising employment standards for all workers, organizing the service sector as well as the logistics sector, which has emerged as a new choke point that labour can exert its pressure in the modern economy
Canadian Taxpayers Federation gets it wrong on public sector sick days
RankandFile.ca, September 6
Last week, the so-called Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation (CTF) released StatCan data about the number of days of illness and disability leave taken by public- and private-sector employees. The CTF’s conclusions are premised on the (false) belief that public- and private-sector employees are comparable groups. An important difference between these groups is that unionization is much higher in the public sector than the private sector (roughly 67% vs 10% in Alberta). Unionization profoundly affects the terms and conditions of work.
Teamsters Local 419: Striking for at least $15 and Fairness
RankandFile.ca, September 5
On August 23, the more than 700 members of Teamsters Local 419 voted over 98% to reject the latest contract offer by the multinational Swissport. These brave union members, many of whom are workers of colour, newcomers, and – certainly among cabin cleaners – women, have been on strike since July 27. These men and women provide crucial services to more than 30 airlines and are essential to the safe and efficient operation of flight service at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, Canada’s largest workplace. Although these workers are federally regulated, so most provisions of Bill 148 would not automatically apply, the federal law establishes the minimum wage as the one prevailing in the province where the work is done. If adopted, Ontario’s Bill 148 would increase the minimum wage to $14 by January 1, 2018 and to $15 by January 1, 2019 for federally-regulated workers in Ontario.
In Other News
Undercover in Temp Nation
Toronto Star, September 8
Amina Diaby died last year in an accident inside one of the GTA’s largest industrial bakeries where, the company says, worker safety is its highest concern. The 23-year-old was one of thousands of Ontarians who have turned to temporary employment agencies to find jobs that often come with low pay and little training for sometimes dangerous work. The Star’s Sara Mojtehedzadeh went undercover for a month at the factory where Diaby worked.
Almost half of Canadian employees living paycheque to paycheque, survey indicates
CBC News, September 6
Nearly half of workers are living paycheque to paycheque due to soaring spending and debt levels, a new survey by the Canadian Payroll Association suggests. The poll found 47 per cent of respondents said it would be difficult to meet their financial obligations if their paycheque were delayed by even one week. The survey, which polled 4,766 Canadian employees between June 27 and Aug. 5, also found that 35 per cent said they feel overwhelmed by their level of debt.
Fed workers fed up
Kelowna Capital News, September 8
Federal employees, upset at the ongoing pay problems with the government’s computerized Phoenix payroll system and the moving of the Canada Employment and Immigration office in Vegreville, Alberta to Edmonton, took their issues directly to Kelowna-Lake Country MP Stephen Fuhr Friday. While Fuhr was not at his downtown Kelowna office at the time, the 24 protesters from across B.C. and the Yukon, chanted and waved placards outside. Vanessa Miller, regional vice-president of the of the Canadian Employment and Immigration Union, said despite assurances from the federal government that the long-running problems with Phoenix would be fixed, problems are still occurring.
NDP Insiders Prepare to Lobby Victoria on Behalf of Corporate Clients
The Tyee, September 7
The self-described “architect” of Premier John Horgan’s winning bid to lead the British Columbia NDP has registered as a consultant lobbyist for seven clients since the start of August. An Alberta oil and natural gas company, a San Francisco ride-hailing company, a large medical test provider and groups promoting health and technology research are among those hiring Michael Gardiner, the former provincial director of the NDP, to help make their case to the NDP government that was sworn in July 18.
Nova Scotia unions ask to be included in legal review of wage-freeze law
Rabble.ca, September 7
Unions in Nova Scotia are asking to be included in a legal review of a bill that restricts wage increases for public servants and, they say, infringes on their constitutional rights to collectively bargain. On Sept. 6, CUPE Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU), the Nova Scotia Nurses’ Union (NSNU), the Nova Scotia Teachers’ Union (NSTU), SEIU Local 2, Unifor and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) asked to be part of the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal’s review of Bill 148.
Whistleblower scientist not entitled to get job back, court rules
CBC News, September 6
Dr. Shiv Chopra has lost his 13-year battle to regain the Health Canada job from which he was fired in 2004. The ruling came from the Federal Court of Appeal on Wednesday. Chopra called it a “travesty of justice.” Chopra was one of three Health Canada veterinary scientists who spoke out in the 1990s about pressure from their bosses to approve drugs despite concerns about human safety. He and his colleagues, Dr. Margaret Haydon and Dr. Gérard Lambert, were eventually fired in 2004 for insubordination.
TTC Union says it will conduct own air quality assessment
Inside Toronto, September 4
The president of the TTC’s largest labour union says the local intends to complete its own air quality assessment of the subway system, regardless of what the transit commission’s own study finds. Kevin Morton of Local 113 welcomed the study, to be undertaken by Toronto Public Health (TPH) over one year measuring the amount of potentially harmful Particulate Matter (PM) with a diameter of 2.5 micrometres – large enough to seep into lungs and increase the risk of heart and respiratory disease – generated by the grinding of rail tracks. But he said the union will challenge any finding indicating subway air quality is safe.
Privatization of extramural nursing an ‘erosion of care,’ union says
CBC News, September 5
Privatization doesn’t belong in New Brunswick’s health-care system, the New Brunswick Nurses Union says. The New Brunswick government announced last week that it is moving head with privatizing the running of the extramural program and Tele-Care services. Medavie Health Services New Brunswick, the same company that runs Ambulance New Brunswick, will take over the home health-care program and 811 health advice line in January under a 10-year contract. “That creates a two-tiered system and we don’t believe that’s what we want here in New Brunswick,” said Paula Doucet, president of the New Brunswick Nurses Union.
Halifax outside workers rally at City Hall in defense of their pensions
Nova Scotia Advocate, September 6
Well over a hundred City of Halifax outside workers, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 108, gathered in front of City Hall late this afternoon to send a message to Mayor Savage and City councillors. These are the workers who look after HRM’s green spaces and parks, roads, playgrounds and sidewalks, and in the winter do much of the city’s snow clearing. The workers want the city to get back to the bargaining table, revoke a lock-out notice, and stop eroding their pensions. Earlier in August the latest city offer was rejected by 90 percent of the workers.
Toronto’s Somali community fights for workers’ rights, mental health supports
Inside Toronto, September 5
Toronto’s Somali workers need help fighting for basic rights at work, mental health supports, a living wage and stable, secure, non-precarious employment, say the co-chairs of the Somali Workers Network. “Many Somali workers don’t know their basic rights. If they have grievances, they don’t know who to talk to. They have HR problems,” said Abdi Hagi Yusuf, co-chair of the Somali Workers Network and secretary-treasurer with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers Toronto local. “We’re black people, new immigrants in Canada and Muslim. We have three strikes against us, whether we’re workers or stay-at-home moms.”
Minimum wage, NAFTA renegotiation, workplace equity hot topics at Labour Day parade
CBC News, September 4
Colourful banners, flags and floats filled Queen Street on Monday as workers and union members came out for Toronto’s annual Labour Day parade. Many who marched say they’re celebrating the strides they’ve seen in recent months. “Today is a day to celebrate the collective power we’re building. Look at the successes that working people are actually beginning to achieve,” said Fred Hahn, president of CUPE Ontario. It took two years of organizing from people on the ground, but we are now debating raising the minimum wage so people who work full-time hours don’t have to live in poverty,” the labour activist told CBC Toronto.
Working for the Weekend
Briarpatch, August 30
Our communities are crumbling under capitalism and the obscene inequalities it creates. Income inequality has steadily risen in Canada over the past 20 years. The threat of climate change is becoming ever more obvious while environmental policies progress more slowly than melting glaciers. While workers in Canada are waging vital campaigns such as the Fight for $15 to improve wages for those who are paid the least, the mobilization around fairer compensation is just one part of the struggle to resist workers’ exploitation. One of the oldest rallying cries of the labour movement is to reduce the time that workers spend working.
I Will Be One Of The McDonald’s Workers On Strike – Here’s Why
The Guardian, September 4
My name is Lewis Baker. I have worked at the Crayford McDonald’s store for around four years now. I will strike, and will be joined by colleagues from Crayford, and from Cambridge. The truth is this. We have been left with no choice but to strike. It’s our only real option. We need to raise awareness over our working conditions, and the way we are treated in McDonald’s. I – like many others – have had our grievances ignored by the company, time and time again. I work at McDonald’s largely because of the flexibility the company claimed to offer. I’m studying at university, so I initially I thought i would work there until I finish my course. But, over the past few months, my thinking has definitely changed. I have experienced real problems with managers trying to force me to change my availability or be threatened with no shifts. Other workers have experienced the same.