RankandFile.ca Weekly Labour Update – July 14 2014

Canada Post privatization | Temporary Foreign Workers | Thunder Bay Bombardier strike | sex work | Education debates | Energizer plant closure | Toronto Wheel-Trans wage cuts | Labour Force Survey | LA, Long Beach trucker strike

The Smoking Gun: Harper’s plan to privatize Canada Post
Mike Palecek, Rabble.ca
July 11, 2014

After repeated denials from the Conservative government that their service cuts and rate hikes at Canada Post have anything to do with privatization, we now know the opposite to be true. An access to information request by Blacklock’s Reporter reveals that the Prime Minister’s Office conducted a secret study into privatization only months before Canada Post announced their five-point plan to cut services, jobs and increase prices. It would appear the government has deliberately misled the public.

Temporary Foreign Workers in Saskatchewan’s economy
Andrew Stevens, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
July 9, 2014

RankandFile.ca co-editor, Andrew Stevens, recently published a report with the Canadian Centre of Policy Alternatives (CCPA) on the growth of temporary foreign workers in Saskatchewan. Since 2005, the number of foreign workers in the province has increased over 600%, from around 1,300 to almost 10,000 in 2012. There are now an estimated 11,000 to 12,000 TFW currently employed in the prairie province of just over 1 million. Accommodation and food services, followed by construction, are the major employers of foreign workers.

Bombardier workers in Thunder Bay set to strike Monday
David Bush, RankandFile.ca
July 13 2014

Barring a last minute agreement nearly a thousand workers at the Bombardier rail plant in Thunder Bay are set to hit the picket lines Monday at 2pm. The workers, who are unionized with Unifor 1075, voted almost unanimously in favour of a strike. The main issues that are preventing a deal is Bombardier’s insistence on concessions when it comes to benefits and pensions. The company wants to change its current pension plan from a defined benefits to a defined contributions plan.

Editorial: Sex workers deserve the same protections as all workers
Fred Hahn, CUPE-Ontario President, National Post
July 9 2014

If the Harper government’s anti-prostitution legislation, Bill C-36, is passed, it will reproduce the harms and violence of the prostitution laws that were recently deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) in its Bedford decision. The new bill not only reintroduces most of the offending laws, it also adds more criminal provisions to prohibit purchasing sex and advertising sexual services. If it becomes law, this legislation will drive sex work underground by removing any legitimate means of accessing labour protections and safety mechanisms. It also prohibits sex workers from working collaboratively and from paying others to help ensure their safety.

Energizer to shut Montreal factory; 430 jobs gone
Montreal Gazette, July 8 2014

Just nine months after buying the east-end Johnson & Johnson factory, Energizer Holdings announced Tuesday it will shut down the facility beginning next summer. During a shift change at 2:30 p.m., management representatives told the 430 workers employed at the tampon factory that they’ll soon be out of a job. The work is being moved south to Delaware, as part of a restructuring process expected to save Energizer $300 million.

Education debates are political, not just pedagogical
Ben Sichel, Nova Scotia high school teacher
July 8 2014

When we’re told the education system is broken, we should pay attention to who’s telling us, and who stands to benefit from the “fixes.” By no means do public schools get everything right, and we should constantly aim to improve them. But setting up straw men that undermine the very notion of public education helps no one. Society’s expectations of its public education system have changed dramatically in the last century – we know much more about student special needs and mental health issues, and we expect all students to graduate high school, for example – yet we act surprised that costs to education has gone up and that educators seem overworked and unhappy.

Toronto’s Wheel-Trans taxi drivers strike over wage cuts
Marco Chown Oved, Toronto Star
July 8 2014

For a token a ride, Wheel-Trans is the cheapest transportation available to people with disabilities. But accessible taxi drivers say the TTC wants them to provide the service even more cheaply. Last weekend, the city’s contract with three taxi brokerages for Wheel-Trans expired and the new contract has dropped drivers’ guaranteed pay from $2.86 to $2.50 per kilometre. Now more than 80 per cent of the drivers are on strike until they get their old fees back.

Labour Force Survey: June 2014
Statistics Canada
July 11 2014

Employment was little changed in June and the unemployment rate rose by 0.1 percentage points to 7.1% as more people were searching for work. Compared with 12 months earlier, employment increased by 72,000 or 0.4%. This was the lowest year-over-year growth rate since February 2010, when year-over-year employment growth resumed following the 2008-2009 labour market downturn.

Five-day trucker strike ends at Los Angeles and Long Beach ports ends
Andrew Khouri, LA Times
July 12, 2014

More than a 120 striking truck drivers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach voted to return to work, ending a five-day protest that briefly halted cargo flows at the ports, organizers said. The drivers decided late Friday to end their job action against three firms they accuse of widespread workplace violations. The decision came after the companies promised to allow all drivers back to work without retaliation and a request from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti for a “cooling-off period,” organizers said.

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