Labour News Update: November 4, 2013

539614_180050805518075_864315735_nForget Duffy. Harper’s real war is with unions by Tasha Kheiriddin, National Post – October 31  

While the political showdown making news this month has pitted Prime Minister Stephen Harper against Senator Mike Duffy, a more important battle is shaping up for the 2015 election. It’s between the Conservative Party and organized labour — as evidenced by the resolutions the party will be debating at its policy convention in Calgary this week.

Bargaining rights to loom over convention by Press Progress – October 30

A special group in the Conservative Party sifted through all the policy proposals submitted by riding associations to debate at the party convention with a goal of tossing out the duplicate ones. But the group still managed to keep nine proposals that are variations on one theme: undermine bargaining rights.

Stephen Harper’s new employment insurance rules whack Ontario hard by Thomas Walkom, Toronto Star – November 1

Now the Harper Tories are making their own effort to eliminate what is left of EI. The strategy is quite simple: Destroy whatever political support exists for employment insurance by making the benefit almost impossible to collect. The aim is equally straightforward: Crush any social program that interferes with the downward pressure on wages.

Indonesians Strike for Higher Wages by Made Sentana, Wall Street Journal –  October 31

Indonesian workers began a two-day strike on Thursday for higher wages, saying they deserve a greater share of the profits from companies taking advantage of strong economic growth in the country. Unions across Indonesia are calling for up to a 50% increase in the minimum wage next year to offset rising inflation and a hike in the price of subsidized fuel – both of which they say have dramatically increased the cost of living. At an industrial estate in north Jakarta occupied mostly by garment manufacturers, thousands of employees walked out of work on Thursday morning to join the near-nationwide strike.

U.S. Steel ends an era in Hamilton by Greg Keenan, Globe and Mail – October 29

United States Steel Corp. will permanently cease steel production at its Hamilton mill at the end of the year, ending an era that goes back more than a century. The blast furnaces at the massive Hamilton Works site have been on what U.S. Steel calls “temporary idle” since late 2010. The permanent closure will leave just a coke-making operation, a cold mill that processes steel from the Nanticoke, Ont., operations and the company’s Z-line galvanizing operation, which finishes steel for automotive customers and others.

Are We a Country or Not!? by Rolf Gerstenberger, Marxists-Leninist Daily – November 1

On behalf of present and former members of Local 1005 USW, I wish to express deep regret and anger at the announced permanent closure of steelmaking at Hilton Works which has been in operation our entire lives and has made Hamilton what it is today. This is a dagger into the heart and soul of our community. The hand on this poisonous blade stretches from Pittsburgh but it has been guided into our chest by the federal and Ontario governments. They have the power to say no to this attack on Canada’s economy. They have the power to beat back this invasion of destructive robber barons whose private self-interest has nothing good to offer Canada.

Indigenous Peoples & Workers UNITE! A video message from Clayton Thomas-Muller, Indigenous, political and environmental activist about the need for Workers and Indigenous Peoples to unite. 

Couche-Tard Workers Unionize by Ross Marowits, Huffington Post – October 28

After years of battle, the union representing workers at six Couche-Tard stores has reached the first union agreement in North America with Alimentation Couche-Tard, Canada’s largest convenience store operator. “Today is probably one of the best days for the CSN and for the workers,” Jacques Letourneau, head of the Confederation of National Trade Unions (CSN), said at a news conference Monday.

What happened in Edmonton this week: an appeal for solidarity from a letter carrier in Edmonton – October 30 

This week we have seen hundreds of letter carriers in Edmonton take a stand. They took a stand for health and safety, they took a stand for their ability to provide for those who depend on their income, and they took a stand in defense of a public institution that is under attack.

Liberals and NDP crush controversial Bill 74 by Tories to help EllisDon by Robert Benzie and Richard Brennan, Toronto Star – October 29

When McNaughton (Lambton-Kent-Middlesex) proposed it, Wynne said the legislation corrected a historical anomaly binding EllisDon to a 1958 agreement requiring it to use unionized workers only, which left the firm at a competitive disadvantage. But under pressure from union leaders, New Democrats, and some Liberals, the premier changed her tune, citing a recent Ontario Divisional Court ruling that quashed the decision by the Ontario Labour Relations Board tying EllisDon to the 55-year-old arrangement.

No bread, just the circus: CUPE National convention sparks ‘Rebuilding Militant Labour’, in spite of leadership by Steve da Silva, – October 30

It was the growing frustration of delegates with the lack of debate around a viable strategy that sparked midway through the convention a caucus of more radical CUPE members that began calling ourselves “Rebuild Militant Labour” – a caucus formed initially just to coordinate interventions at the mic. By Day 3, however, with the problems with our union coming into sharper focus, and a growing number of people joining the conversation, Rebuilding Militant Labour (RML) put out an interim basis of unity, holding an impromptu meeting outside convention hours at the end of Day 4 that attracted almost one hundred people, representing much of the country, most of CUPE’s sectors, and the whole demographic spectrum of the union.

Union members stormed the lobby of Nova Scotia Power on Tuesday.Nova Scotia Power job cuts spark protest by David Jackson, Chronicle Herald – October 29

Emera and Nova Scotia Power officials heard chanting from ticked-off union members for the second day in a row Tuesday. About 200 Nova Scotia Federation of Labour convention delegates rallied outside the companies’ headquarters in Halifax, with many of them marching into the building’s atrium on Lower Water Street. Chants of “Power, power, power to the people” and “No justice, no peace” rang through the open area as employees emerged from their offices on the floors above to check out the ruckus. The marchers were there in support of Local 1928 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and in protest of Nova Scotia Power’s plan to potentially contract out up to 250 jobs as a cost-cutting measure.

Canadian Postal Service Charter Review Should Focus on Revenue-Generation, Not Additional Cuts by CUPW

BE IT RESOLVED THAT the (name of municipality, business or organization) write a letter to the Minister responsible for Canada Post to request that the government consider innovative ways to generate postal revenue during the Charter review, including financial services like bill payments, insurance and banking.


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