Rankandfile.ca Weekly Labour Update – April 21 2014


CLC Presidential Race | Temporary foreign workers | BC sawmill explosions | BC teachers | Crown Holdings Toronto strike | Chinese shoe factory strike | Toledo autoworkers strike | Federal job cuts | Tuition fees & work hours | Nova Scotia & right-to-strike

CLC Presidential Race

CLC Presidential Candidate Primer

Candidate websites
Hassan Husseini: “Take Back CLC”
Hassan Yussuff: “Different Leadership, New Results”
Ken Georgetti: “Work Together Win Together”

McDonald’s temporary foreign worker calls it “slavery”
CBC, April 17 2014

Foreign workers recruited from Belize are accusing McDonald’s Canada of treating them like “slaves,” by effectively forcing them to share an expensive apartment – then deducting almost half their take-home pay as rent…Records from three employees show they made $11 an hour working at various McDonald’s locations and the company took $280 from their pay for rent, bi-weekly. Their remaining take-home pay for the same pay periods was roughly $350.

Want to read more about Temporary Foreign Workers?
Check out Michal Rozworski’s “The Temporary Foreign Workers Program and labour market discipline

No charges in Lakeland Mills sawmill explosions which killed two workers
CBC News, April 14 2014

Citing flaws in WorkSafeBC’s investigation, the Crown has concluded a conviction would be unlikely. In a written statement, the Crown says no search warrants were obtained by WorkSafeBC during the initial investigation at the sawmill. It also says a number of areas of potentially relevant evidence were left unexplored. This includes direct evidence on how much Lakeland Mills directors and management knew about sawdust conditions at the mill, and the risks of an explosion. It’s the second time this year the Criminal Justice Branch has refused to lay charges related to a deadly sawmill explosion, and the second time it has cited failures in WorksafeBC’s investigative procedures.

BC teachers to begin job action April 23
BC Teachers’ Federation, April 17 2014

In response to disappointing progress at the negotiating table where the Christy Clark government and employer’s association have not backed off from unfair and unreasonable demands, BC Teachers’ Federation President Jim Iker announced today that teachers will begin low-level Stage 1 job action that only targets administrative duties. Stage 1 job action will start on Wednesday, April 23, after the Easter weekend. There will be no immediate school closures or disruptions to students. This first stage is administrative in nature only. Teachers will continue to teach, write report cards, communicate with parents, and participate in their volunteer extracurricular activities.

Toronto strikers bump up boycott tactics
Jenny Brown, Labor Notes
April 18 2014

Steelworkers are holding the line against two-tier wages and pensions at a can plant in Toronto—ruining the plans of their employer, can manufacturing giant Crown Holdings. The plant, which is operating with scabs, produces 5 million beer and soup cans a day for Molson Coors, Labatt, Cott Beverage, and others. Output and quality have been down since the workers walked out, according to officials with Steelworkers Local 9176.

Massive strike in China at Nike & Adidas factories enter sixth day
Bloomberg, April 21 2014

Workers at the world’s largest branded shoemaker, supplier to companies including Adidas AG and Nike Inc., disrupted output for a sixth day in a strike over pay, benefits and the right to elect their own union.

Toledo auto parts workers strike for 8 hours, win union recognition
Jane Slaughter, Labor Notes
April 17 2014

Piston workers at Jeep in Toledo said 75-80 percent had signed cards asking for UAW representation, but management had refused to recognize them. The 70 workers make brake systems and struts for the Cherokee. It’s the norm for companies to refuse to recognize new bargaining units, even when a majority of workers sign cards. These days a union’s typical next step is filing for an election with the National Labor Relations Board—but this gives the boss a chance to drag out the process and put workers through an anti-union wringer. Strikes for recognition, once common, have become rare.

Federal government could cut more than 9,000 jobs
Kathryn May, Ottawa Citizen
April 18 2014

The latest report by the Parliamentary Budget Office shows spending on personnel is continuing to fall and departments’ own plans and priorities reports show the public service will lose another 8,900 jobs by 2016-17, shrinking the workforce to the lowest levels since 2006. That’s on top of the more than 20,000 positions that have been wiped off the payroll since the Conservatives’ watershed 2012 budget, which launched a downsizing that cut $5.2 billion in spending and targeted 19,200 jobs over three years.

Soaring tuition fees force students to double, triple work hours
Holly Moore, CBC News
April 15 2014

Many university students have to work double, triple and in some cases six times the number of hours in minimum-wage jobs to afford tuition costs compared to 40 years ago, according to Statistics Canada data analyzed by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. According to the data, which track tuition costs from 1975 to 2013, the average number of minimum-wage hours needed to pay for an undergraduate degree in 1975 was 230. That number went up nearly 2½ times to 570 by 2013.

A Major Blow to the Right to Strike in Nova Scotia
David Bush, Rankandfile.ca
April 15 2014

In the dead of night on March 31 the Liberal government of Nova Scotia skulked into the provincial legislature and introduced essential service legislation, Bill 37, that stripped nearly 40 000 workers of their right to strike. The neoliberal policies that governments are pursuing necessitate a more aggressive anti-union legislative agenda. Instead of trying to find ways to generate new revenue, governments are trying to balance the books on the backs of workers. Not only do these laws tip the scales of collective bargaining further in favour of employers and governments, but they also have the added effect of making collective bargaining a more bureaucratic process over which workers have even less influence.


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