R&F Labour News Update – July 27 2015

Ottawa cleaners approve strike | Protests in London against Canada Post | B.C.’s Howe Sound mill to close paper operations | Report calls for disclosure of private hospital laundry contracts in Sask. | Nunavut power workers and government have war of words | Fight for $15 hits McDicks | EI system is failing Canadians | Loblaws closing 52 stores | Violence against Ontario nurses shockingly common | Corporations owe Alberta $1.1 billion in back taxes | Canada’s two largest railways to cut 900 jobs | London inside workers ratify new contract | P3s and the democratic deficit in Newfoundland and Labrador | Steelworkers in Labrador City rally for rehiring of janitorial staff | Nova Scotia government looking to privatize registries

Ottawa cleaners approve city-wide strike mandate
CBC News
July 26 2015

The majority of the city’s private-sector cleaners could be setting up picket lines as soon as next week after workers from all the companies at the negotiation table overwhelmingly approved a strike mandate.

“A work stoppage is not what we want,” said Lyne Giard, a member of the Service Employees International Union Local 2 and part of the bargaining committee.

“What we want is a contract that will provide a pathway out of poverty for cleaners in Ottawa, and health benefits for our families. But our employers don’t seem to agree, so we’re left with little choice but to consider going out on strike.”

Protest held as London councillors say Canada Post misled the city

Londoners place a community garden where a community mailbox is slated to be installed. Photo via Londoners for Door to Door
Londoners place a community garden where a community mailbox is slated to be installed. Photo via Londoners for Door to Door

CTV London
July 24 2015

Amid a sit-in protest against community mailboxes in London Friday, councillors are taking aim at Canada Post officials, accusing them of lying to city hall.

In March, Canada Post promised no installations would go ahead until city council and Canada Post met to discuss a city report about the boxes.

Councillor Tanya Park says, “I’ve been lied to, I see that this rollout is happening with no consultation to me.”

B.C.’s Howe Sound mill to close paper operations
CBC News
July 23 2015

The Howe Sound Pulp and Paper Corporation on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast will close part of its operations effective immediately, affecting up to 180 workers.

The mill’s owners, Paper Excellence, blamed the extreme drought, noting that water from a nearby lake that feeds the mill’s operations is dwindling. It also said declining prices and a shrinking newsprint market have been bad for business.

The mill has operated in Port Mellon for more than 100 years.

Report calls for disclosure of private contract for hospital laundry services in Sask.
CTV Regina
July 24 2015

Union officials are praising a report from Saskatchewan’s information and privacy commissioner calling for full public disclosure of a contract for privatized hospital laundry services.

CUPE says it has been trying to get a public copy of the contract with K-Bro Linen since it was signed in December 2013.

Nunavut government, striking power workers launch war of words

About two dozen unionized QEC workers walk the picket line near Iqaluit's QEC office July 23. The strike entered its eighth day July 23, with no indication from either side that negotiations would resume any time soon. Photo by Thomas Rohner
About two dozen unionized QEC workers walk the picket line near Iqaluit’s QEC office July 23. The strike entered its eighth day July 23, with no indication from either side that negotiations would resume any time soon. Photo by Thomas Rohner

Thomas Rohner, NunatsiaqOnline
July 24 2015

A war of words and numbers between the Qulliq Energy Corp. and its striking workers is now underway, with each side accusing the other of spreading false information.

The Government of Nunavut and its publicly-owned power utility, the QEC, issued a joint news release July 22 alleging the union is distorting the truth — it’s the first official communication from either organization since unionized QEC workers walked off the job at midnight July 16.

The striking workers are represented by the Nunavut Employees Union, a component of the Public Service Alliance of Canada.

Fight for Fifteen hits McDicks
Miles Howe, Halifax Media Co-op
July 15 2015

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax), Nova Scotia — This morning, July 15th, 2015, Halifax’s ‘Fight for Fifteen’ campaign took their struggle for a liveable minimum wage to the front door of the Quinpool Road McDonald’s restaurant. In targeting the fast-food giant, the Halifax campaign follows in the footsteps of the groundswell ‘living wage’ movement in the United States, which has seen tens of thousands – many of them workers in the fast-food industry – show up in calls for action in major American metropolises.

In the recent past, McDonald’s, the company, has not been immune to this type public pressure. In early April, 2015, McDonald’s announced that employees at company-owned restaurants in the United States would, by the end of 2016, see their earnings rise on average one dollar above the minimum wage in their respective legislative boundaries. By no means did this come close to fifteen dollars an hour, but it was a chink in the armour.

Unbalanced EI system is failing Canadians, former chief actuary says
Tavia Grant, The Globe & Mail
July 23 2015

Canada’s employment insurance system “effectively discriminates” against workers based on where they live and whether they work part time or full time, says the former chief actuary for the program.

Only about 40 per cent of Canada’s 1.3 million unemployed people now receive benefits. And among those who do, the range of benefits given in the largest labour-market program in the country varies widely among regions.

The current system is broken, said Michel Bédard, who co-wrote a paper to be released Thursday with economics professor Pierre Fortin of the University of Quebec at Montreal, for the Institute for Research on Public Policy.

Loblaws closing 52 unprofitable stores over next 12 months
CBC News
July 23 2015

Loblaw Companies Ltd. plans to close 52 unprofitable stores in Canada over the next year, it says in its second-quarter earnings release.

The company made the announcement Thursday, saying the closures will affect all of its banners and formats.

“The list includes gas bars, Joe Fresh standalone stores and select pharmacies and grocery stores,” a spokesperson with the company told CBC News.

Violence against Ontario nurses shockingly common
Karen Boutilier, The Windsor Star
July 22 2015

Nurses in southwestern Ontario and across the province are facing an epidemic of assaults in our workplaces.

Fifty-four per cent of Ontario Nurses’ Association members said they have been physically assaulted. That is an extremely sobering statistic, given that we have 60,000 members working in hospitals, long-term care homes, the community, public health and in industry and clinics.

Registered nurses report having been verbally harassed, stabbed, punched, choked, pinched, scratched, bitten and spat at.

Corporations owe Alberta $1.1B in unpaid taxes
Matt McClure, Calgary Herald
July 16 2015

Uncollected corporate taxes and penalties surged by over 25 per cent in Alberta last year, despite a stern warning from the province’s financial watchdog that the government needs to do a better job of getting businesses to pay up.

The mounting tab now totals more than $1.1 billion, an amount roughly equal to one-fifth the total amount actually collected from corporations over the last 12 months and two times what the new NDP government hopes to raise annually by hiking the rate for big businesses from 10 to 12 per cent.

The Finance Department’s recent annual report also shows that fully 38 per cent of what’s outstanding, or $431 million, will likely have to be written off.

Canada’s two largest railways report job cuts as falling shipments take toll
Ian Bickis, The Canadian Press
July 20 2015

CALGARY – Canada’s two largest railways are reporting job cuts of up to 900 people as falling shipments of oil, grain and coal take a toll on their industry.

Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. (TSX:CP) said Tuesday it plans to slash 200 to 300 jobs later this year as the sector faces lower than expected freight volumes.

“If business goes down and demand reduces, then obviously head count is going to go down in lockstep with it,” president and chief operating officer Keith Creel told investors in a conference call.

CP’s planned job cuts come a day after Canadian National Railway (TSX:CNR) announced it had cut 600 jobs so far this year and has implemented a hiring freeze.

London inside workers vote in favour of accepting deal that includes working Saturdays
Patrick Maloney, The London Free Press
July 22 2015

A city hall strike that began with union leaders declaring they’d accept no concessions ended Wednesday with workers approving a deal that includes some big ones.

And with the agreement paying out raises far below what leaders of the Canadian Union of ­Public Employees (CUPE) Local 101, had been seeking, one local labour expert says it’s hard to see what London’s 750 inside workers gained during a painful 59-day strike.

“They seem to have given in on the key issues and not been bought off in the process” with rich raises, said Johanna Weststar, a labour relations professor at Western University.

Paul Davis, P3s and the democratic deficit
Marilyn Porter, The Independent
July 21, 2015

Premier Davis is hell-bent on getting P3 (public-private partnership) contracts signed to build long-term care facilities before the provincial election in November.

In April he announced his intention to go the P3 route, however it is only now we are hearing that the Conservatives are ready to sign these risky deals in October, prior to the election.

What this means is no matter who wins the provincial election in November, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador will be bound to a risky deal for 25 years. Where is the transparency and accountability that is our right?

United Steelworkers rally for janitorial staff rehiring
CBC News
July 21 2015

The United Steelworkers union is calling for the Iron Ore Company of Canada to rehire all of the mine’s laid-off janitorial staff.

Approximately 25 people showed up at the company’s gate in Labrador City on Tuesday morning to demand change.

The company laid off its 29-member janitorial staff this June. Some of the workers have nearly 30 years of service.

Nova Scotia government moves closer to off-loading public registries
The Canadian Press
July 21 2015

The Nova Scotia government is looking at off-loading the costs of upgrading its registry services for motor vehicles, land and businesses by partnering with the private sector.

A call will be put out later this summer for input from companies interested in running the public registries and modernizing the associated technology.

“If we want to position ourselves financially so that we can continue to invest in those core services that Nova Scotians have told us are important to them — health care and education — these are the types of things that we have to consider,” Service Nova Scotia Minister Mark Furey said Tuesday.

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