RankandFile.ca’ weekly labour news update – August 11, 2014

BC teachers strike | Solidarity with Palestinians | Quebec public sector workers’ pension| Unemployment numbers | Just in time delivery | Manufacturing crisis | Mount Polly disaster | ArcelorMittal lockout | Saskatchewan nurses

 Breach of the dam of the Mount Polley Mine tailings pond - workers had warned against this  possibility
Breach of the dam of the Mount Polley Mine tailings pond – workers had warned against this possibility
Canada’s Manufacturing Crisis Worst Among 19 Industrialized Countries
Daniel Tencer, Huffington Post Canada
August 8, 2014

We’re often told that Canada’s crisis in manufacturing is a global problem, one that we alone can do little to address. Competition from developing countries with cheaper labour, combined with automation, are taking manufacturing jobs and they’re not coming back. It’s not a homegrown problem. Well then again, maybe there is a homegrown component. Because the decline of Canadian manufacturing is among the worst in the developed world.

ArcelorMittal lockout of workers pegged to pension
Montreal Gazette
August 7, 2014

Quebec’s Métallos union said a lockout of 300 of its workers at the ArcelorMittal plant in the Montérégie region is “revolting” and that management ignored numerous efforts to prevent it. The lockout, which began at 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday at the plant in Contrecoeur, “took place despite a number of negotiations and proposals initiated by the union,” according to a release issued by Métallos — which is part of the United Steelworkers union. The union said the company’s pension plan is at the heart of the dispute, and has accused the company of using the debate over public-sector pension reform to “pull a fast one” on its workers.

Teachers, province to continue bargaining next week
CTV News
August 8, 2014

B.C. teachers and their employer have returned to the bargaining table for their first face-to-face talks since June, but it will be at least next week before any agreement is reached.
Friday’s meetings concluded shortly after 5 p.m., but B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Jim Iker told CTV News that negotiations would continue next week. Both Iker and B.C. Public School Employers Association negotiator Peter Cameron declined to offer further comment on Friday’s meetings.

Province investigates McMaster negotiations
Steve Arnold, Hamilton Spectator
August 6, 2014

Ontario’s Ministry of Labour has ordered an investigation into the way McMaster University has been negotiating with its lowest paid workers. The Ministry moved Tuesday morning to seal the ballot boxes in a final offer vote being conducted at the institution. McMaster and the Building Union of Canada are locked in a struggle over raises for the lowest-paid workers at the university. Tuesday’s vote was held under a clear threat that if workers did not accept the university’s final offer, they would be fired and their jobs turned over to private contractors. Union president Craig Bromell said such tactics are illegal.

Former Mount Polley Mine employee speaks out about the tailings pond breach
Amy Judd, Global News
August 6, 2014

Gerald MacBurney, a former employee of the mine, worked there for seven years, eventually ending up as a tailings foreman. He is speaking out today about why he left.He quit this past June, saying one of the main reasons was the stress of the job. “I fought those guys for two years,” he says, “the management at Polley, to get rock like they were supposed to, and build the dam properly. Doing my job, and then they would not do the stuff that you wanted, you know? I just couldn’t take it anymore.”

Public services under attack
Joanne Shuttleworth, Guelph Mercury
August 6, 2014

Public services are under attack and the public is being bamboozled by politicians who claim austerity is the only answer, say two local public sector unions who took part in a public forum Wednesday evening called Save Our Services. Andrew Cleary, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1189, and Shelley Sillers, president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers Local 546, had different tales to tell about cuts to services and the impact those cuts will have on the public. But both agree the public has the power to stand up to government and demand they get their services back. The city and ATU Local 1189 ratified a contract on Tuesday to get Guelph Transit buses back on the road after the union twice rejected contract offers and the city locked them out. “Today’s attack on labour is about making concessions, not about gains,” Cleary said. “For us it’s not about money but human dignity. We ratified the agreement for the citizens of Guelph.”

Leaning away from nurses
Ann-Marie Urban, RankandFile.ca
August 6, 2014

In Saskatchewan, decades of restructuring and bed closures have had profound effects on the health care system. As a result, the largest group of health care providers working in hospitals, Registered Nurses has had to manage the hospital’s ongoing litany of problems. To add, cost cutting and efficiency agendas have resulted in production line caring and working chronically understaffed. All of which has been proven to contribute to injury and illness in nurses. The dominance of business values and hospital priorities clearly dictates nurses’ work.

Quebec municipal workers dress down, sticker vehicles over proposed pension reforms
Sidhartha Banerjee, Times Colonist
August 10, 2014

The funky pants and sticker-plastered city vehicles are just the beginning as workers and the province draw battle lines over a proposed reform of municipal pensions. The Liberal government introduced its proposal to overhaul municipal pensions in mid-June, saying those plans carry a collective deficit of about $3.9 billion and aren’t sustainable in the long-term. Underfunding and long-term sustainability of pension plans is a common concern across the country. In Quebec, the response from workers has been hard to ignore. City employees like police officers, firefighters, public transit and other blue- and white-collar workers have been dressing down for weeks.

The threat of just-in-time scheduling
Sean McElwee, AlJazeera English
August 7, 2014

One of the most unnoticed labor trends in the past few decades has been the rise of “just-in-time scheduling,” the practice of scheduling workers’ shifts with little advance notice that are subject to cancelation hours before they are due to begin. Such scheduling practices mean that already low-wage workers often have fluctuating pay checks, leading them to rely on shady lenders or credit cards to make ends meet. Such consequences especially affect women and workers of color, who disproportionately fill these jobs.

Just how bad are Canada’s new job numbers?
Press Progress
August 8, 2014

Just how bad are Canada’s latest job numbers released Friday by Statistics Canada? Here are 5 statistics that tell the story:

59,700: That’s the number of full-time jobs that were lost last month.
200: Economists had expected the creation of 20,000 jobs in July. Instead, a mere 200 jobs were created overall, with part-time jobs offsetting the loss of full-time work.
0.7%: That’s the growth of employment over the past year, with the addition of 115,300 new jobs. All this growth was in part-time work.
35,400: That’s how many people dropped out of the labour force last month and are no longer being counted as unemployed.
65.9%: This is Canada’s participation rate, which tracks the number of people searching for jobs. This is the first time since 2001 it has fallen below 66%.
Bonus: Stephen Harper’s Conservative government says it’s focused on “job creation and economic growth.”

Labour For Palestine: Interview with Michael Letwin

Matthew Davidson, RankandFile.ca
August 7, 2014

Over the past six years, Israel has waged three different wars against the Gazans, killing thousands in the process. The current war has killed nearly 2,000 civilians and made a quarter of Gaza’s 1.8 million people homeless. Drawing inspiration from the labour-backed boycott of Apartheid South Africa, Palestinian civil society groups have renewed their call for an international campaign of Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel’s apartheid regime. Palestinian trade unions and workers have been participants in this call for an international BDS campaign against the Israeli state until the occupation of Palestine ends. Workers across the globe have responded to this call by passing BDS motions within their unions and by taking other actions in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

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