Labour News Update: August 8, 2016

1,000 Canada Post workers protest in front of Trudeau’s Montreal office | Canada Bread cuts 63 workers | Legal Aid Ontario lawyers protest in front of Minster Flynn’s office | ESL teachers strike in Vancouver | Loss of Canadian Wheat Board behind Churchill failure | Widening gender gap in earnings among post-secondary graduates | Canada loses 31,200 jobs in July | Workers at Baton Rouge Steakhouse & Bar achieve first contract | Fewer Canadian mothers work than those in many rich countries | Toronto’s 1 per cent are about 100,000 times wealthier than us | Farmworker injury claims more than double since Bill 6 took effect | GM Oshawa consolidated plant assembly likely doomed | Unions don’t protect bad teachers | CRA convicts a fraction of offshore tax evaders | Wage-theft victims lost $28M to poor enforcement |

Photo via Friends of Public Services on Twitter

More than 1,000 Canada Post workers protest in front of Trudeau’s Montreal office
CBC News
August 6, 2016

More than 1,000 Canada Post workers protested Saturday in front of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Papineau riding office in Montreal in an effort to kick start stalled negotiations over a new collective agreement.

The protest began around 1 p.m. at Saint-Alphonse Park, near the intersection St. Denis Street and Crémazie Boulevard, before making its way to Trudeau’s office.

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) is accusing the Crown corporation of dragging its heels in the negotiations.

“It’s moving forward very slowly, and there has been no response on the important issues,” Lise-Lyne Gélineau, president of the union’s Montreal chapter. “That’s why we’re addressing the prime minister.”
Canada Bread…long legacy ends for 63 employees
Stu Campaigne, Bay Today
August 4, 2016

Dave Arturi, a three-year employee at Canada Bread, walked out the facility’s door Wednesday with a severance package in hand, and some prospects for the future.

He worries about how many of his fellow co-workers, especially the 40-plus year veterans he got to know on his shift, are feeling today.

Once the reality of the closure set in, Arturi says it was business as usual. After the initial shock, the workers seemed resigned to their fates. Some compared it to an early layoff. Except this one was permanent.

Legal Aid Ontario lawyers protest outside Oakville MPP Kevin Flynn’s constituency office
David Lea, Oakville Beaver
August 3, 2016

A group of legal aid lawyers picketed outside Oakville MPP and Minister of Labour Kevin Flynn’s constituency office July 28 as part of an ongoing campaign to gain collective bargaining rights.

About 20 legal aid lawyers marched outside the Lakeshore Road office waving signs reading “Bargaining Rights Now,” and “Fairness For Legal Aid Ontario. Flynn talk to Wynne.”

ESL teachers’ strike cancels English classes for 600 Vancouver students
Matt Meuse, CBC News
August 4, 2016

Earlier this summer, Lala Bandres quit her job in Mexico to learn English in Canada. She received a three-month student visa, paid about $5,000 in tuition fees and packed her bags for Vancouver.

But the teachers at her school, Vancouver English Centre (VEC), have been on strike since Tuesday. The school is refusing to give her the refund she has asked for — and the clock on her student visa is ticking.

“What happens if I [go] back to Mexico, and this school doesn’t give me my money, and this school doesn’t give me my education?” Bandres asked. “I quit my job to study here and I [now] don’t have anything — no school and no money.”

Loss of Canadian Wheat Board behind Churchill failure
Dougald Lamont, Winnipeg Free Press
August 4, 2016

The closure of the Port of Churchill and the fate of Manitoba’s northern rail line is not an accident due to economic circumstance: it was the inevitable result of eliminating the single-desk monopoly of the Canadian Wheat Board.

There were ample warnings raised about what would happen if the Conservative government of Stephen Harper scrapped the wheat board. The threats to the northern rail line and the port were clear, and it wasn’t just farmers and politicians raising red flags. The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce had concerns about the economic effect on Winnipeg — losses of more than 2,000 jobs.

Study finds widening gender gap in earnings among post-secondary graduates
Don Butler, Ottawa Citizen
July 26, 2016

Eight years after graduating with university bachelor degrees in 2005, males were earning $27,300 more on average than females who graduated at the same time with the same degrees, says a comprehensive new study.

Among college graduates, the gender earnings gap was almost as large — $23,600 — and even larger in percentage terms, according to the analysis done by the Education Policy Research Initiative (EPRI), a national research organization based at the University of Ottawa.

Canada loses 31,200 jobs in July
Sunny Freeman, The Toronto Star
August 5, 2016

The Canadian economy saw the biggest monthly drop in full-time work in nearly five years, Statistics Canada said Friday in a jobs report that highlighted a number of troubling trends painting a negative portrait of the jobs market.

The July Labour Force Survey found the Canadian economy shed a worse-than-expected 31,200 jobs from June to July. The unemployment rate ticked up 0.1 percentage point to 6.9 per cent. It was the fourth straight month of contraction in the jobs market.

Workers at Baton Rouge Steakhouse & Bar achieve first contract – UFCW 1006A
UFCW Canada
July 29, 2016

UFCW Canada Local 1006A members working at the Baton Rouge Steakhouse & Bar in Ottawa recently voted to ratify their first-ever union contract, which provides gains to all members.

The new contract covers 65 members who work as servers, bartenders, kitchen staff, and hostesses at the popular restaurant. The members joined the union earlier this year to obtain better pay, equal treatment in the workplace, and respect and fairness on the job.

Fewer Canadian mothers work than those in many rich countries
Laura Beeston, The Toronto Star
August 3, 2016

A newly released internal federal analysis found fewer Canadian mothers — especially those with young children — participate in the job market compared to moms in many wealthy countries.

“If you ask me, it’s a crisis,” said Alisa Fulshtinsky, of Toronto Mommies, a Facebook page with members from across the GTA. “(Mothers) are looking at a choice between going back to work and staying with your child, since daycares are far from available or affordable.”

Toronto’s 1 per cent are about 100,000 times wealthier than us: study
May Warren, Metro
August 4, 2016

It’s a club most of us will never get to join. Members are mostly male. Interests include private jets, acquiring property and, for at least one, running for president.

They’re the world’s billionaires — and, in Toronto, the gap between them and the rest of us is among the biggest in the world.

Wealth accumulated by the city’s 1 per cent is about 100,000 times greater than that of the average person, according to a new study from University of Toronto’s Martin Prosperity Institute.

Farmworker injury claims more than double since controversial Bill 6 took effect
James Wood, Edmonton Journal
August 2, 2016

Advocates of controversial farm safety legislation say the doubling of Workers Compensation Board claims by farm workers since it came into effect shows that the law is needed and working.

In the first six months of 2016, there were 395 WCB claims from the agriculture sector, with 356 accepted.

That compares to 158 claims in the same time period in 2015, with 143 accepted by the WCB.

GM Oshawa consolidated plant assembly likely doomed
Grace Macaluso, Windsor Star
July 29, 2016

Successful contract talks with Unifor could secure the future of General Motors’ flex line in Oshawa, but the consolidated line is set to close next year, a GM Canada executive familiar with negotiations says.

The one-shift consolidated line, which employs 750 of the 2,400 hourly workers at the Oshawa facility, currently builds overflow supply of the popular Chevrolet Equinox SUV from GM’s CAMI plant in Ingersoll.

“The line is due to end production sometime in 2017,” said the source who spoke on condition of anonymity. “We haven’t said exactly when, but likely mid-year when we end production of the current generation of the Equinox.”

Unions protect bad teachers? Not so, says a new report
Grant Frost, Local Xpress
July 31, 2016

Back in April, a rather sensationalist piece of journalism was produced by the CBC, seemingly directed at undermining public confidence in teachers. Looking more like something from Fox News than a publicly owned entity, an episode of Marketplace focused on teacher discipline. The episode suggested quite openly that teacher discipline in Canada was in dire straits indeed. The big beef seemed to be that unless a teacher had broken the law, it was very difficult, in many areas, for parents to discover whether a teacher had ever been disciplined.

Now, sensationalizing an issue is certainly nothing new for the media, although one might hope for better from the CBC. However, there was an overall tone to the piece that many teachers found quite disturbing, as it painted the entire profession in a negative light.

CRA convicts a fraction of offshore tax evaders
Marco Chown Oved
August 1, 2016

As worldwide pressure grows to fight offshore tax evasion, new statistics obtained by the Star show the Canadian government has convicted only 49 people and levied just $13.4 million in fines for what it calls offshore activity since 2010.

These numbers are far lower than in comparable countries and show the Canada Revenue Agency recovers only a tiny fraction of the estimated $6 to $7.8 billion in taxes Canada loses to offshore tax havens each year.

Wage-theft victims lost $28M to poor enforcement, statistics show
Sara Mojtehedzadeh, The Toronto Star
August 2, 2016

Victims of wage theft across Ontario have lost out on $28 million over the past six years because the Ministry of Labour failed to collect the pay owed to them by law-breaking bosses, new statistics show.

Just $19 million of the $47.5 million stolen from out-of-pocket workers since 2009 has ever been recovered — a “disturbingly low success rate,” according to a government-commissioned research project requested by the Star. Yet it found less than 0.2 per cent of bosses guilty of monetary violations are ever prosecuted.

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