RankandFile.ca Weekly Labour Update – May 19 2014

Fast food strikes | Turkish mining disaster | BC teachers | Alberta teachers | Canada Post layoffs | Artists’ compensation | Ontario election | Skill shortage myth | Saskatchewan Employment Act

Fight for $15: Fast food workers strike in 130 American cities
Julia Kann, Labor Notes
May 15 2014

Fast food workers struck in 130 U.S. cities—some for the first time, including Miami, Orlando, Philadelphia, and Sacramento, organizers said. Some stores were unable to open until managers could be called in to work the abandoned tills and fryers. As striking fast food workers hit picket lines across the U.S., supporters and workers rallied in 30 other countries.

Turkish mining disaster: the product of privatization
International Business Times, May 17 2014

As Turkey reels from the worst mining disaster in its history, survivors and industry insiders claim that privatization has made the country’s collieries among the most dangerous in the world. Critics say safety problems worsened after privatization of Turkey’s coal mines in 2002, and claim that since the private company SOMA Komur Isletmeleri bought the Soma mine in 2005, the company has regularly skimped on safety measures to boost profits.

BC government threatens wage cut for teachers if contract not signed by end of year
CTV News, May 16 2014

The B.C. government is threatening to cut teachers’ wages by five per cent if a new contract agreement isn’t reached by the end of the school year, but the union representing those teachers vows it will take that threat to the Labour Relations Board. The teachers have been without a contract since last June. In early March, some 26,051 members of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation voted 89 percent in favour of job action, and in April, the union began Stage 1 of its job action.

Alberta teachers vote no confidence in Minister of Labour and education report
CBC News, May 17 2014

More than 400 teacher representatives from across Alberta say they have lost confidence in Education Minister Jeff Johnson. Delegates at the Alberta Teachers’ Association annual general meeting voted unanimously on the resolution Saturday afternoon, just hours after Johnson defended his controversial Task Force on Teaching Excellence Report.

Canada Post cuts 180 jobs in London, Hamilton, Ottawa
CTV News, May 13 2014

Overall, 180 full- and part-time jobs will soon be cut at the Crown corporation: 100 in Ottawa, 40-50 in London, Ont., and 30 in Hamilton. Some of the mail-processing that takes place in London and Hamilton will be consolidated to Toronto, while some from Ottawa will be sent to Montreal. Ottawa’s plant – located at Riverside Dr. and Industrial Ave. – will eventually be downsized to a smaller facility with newer equipment.

Artists win minimum artist fees at National Gallery of Canada
Canadian Artists Representation/Le Front des Artists Canadien, May 14 2014

Visual artists had a big victory today at the Supreme Court in the fight for minimum artist fees at the National Gallery of Canada. In a unanimous decision from the bench, the Supreme Court allowed an appeal on behalf of artist restoring an earlier decision that found in their favour.

Ontario teachers call Hudak’s education plans “dangerous”
Kristin Rushowy, Toronto Star
May 14 2014

Unions say 19,000 teaching and support staff jobs would be lost under the PCs plan. The proposal is to boost class sizes in grades 1 to 3 from 20 to 23 students, from 24.5 to 26 students in grades 4 to 8 and high school classes from 22 to 24. The PCs also want full-day kindergarten to be taught by a teacher only, eliminating the help of an early childhood educator.

Horwath promise to cut government spending wrongheaded, says CUPE Ontario president
CUPE Ontario, May 14 2014

Fred Hahn says he’s sure Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath didn’t mean to sound like other politicians, but worries that’s what voters might think when she says the government spends too much and when she promises to cut millions from the budget. The president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario was responding to news Horwath would cut $600 million in spending and create a new cabinet position to oversee future reductions.

How the myth of a Canadian skills shortage was shattered
Carol Goar, Toronto Star
May 15 2014

It took nine months of detective work by economists, journalists, social media sleuths and investigators at the Parliamentary Budget Office to solve the mystery of Canada’s missing job vacancies. Last week Auditor General Mike Ferguson made it official: The federal government was using unreliable statistics to support its claim that Canada had plenty of jobs but no workers with the skills to fill them.

Jobs recovery overstated, Bank of Canada study finds
CBC News, May 13 2014

The central bank says in a new research paper that the unemployment rate, although the most quoted measure of labour market health, has overestimated the jobs recovery in Canada, and particularly in the U.S. Since the peak of the recession in 2009, the economy has since recovered lost jobs and created 600,000 more, but “an unusually large share of the unemployed have been out of work for six months or more, and many workers who would like to work full time have been able to obtain only part-time employment.”

Is the Saskatchewan Employment Act read for modern realities
Andrew Stevens, RankandFile.ca
May 13 2014

Nearly two years after the provincial government launched its consultation paper on labour law reform, the Saskatchewan Employment Act (SEA) was finally proclaimed at the end of April. The SEA brings with it an indexed minimum wage and provides some solace to workers who occupy the growing low-wage industries. Even interns were rightly recognized in the new legislation and guaranteed compensation for their toil. Employers can now negotiate an extension to the working day and alter their commitment to overtime by averaging hours over a several week period, with the consent of employees. But is the SEA a model of modern and simplified legislation, as the government intended?

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