Labour news update: December 5, 2016

Pallister government begins to show true colours | Toronto UberEats drivers protest pay cuts | Ottawa seeks dismissal of Phoenix legal action | Parents scramble for childcare as Nova Scotia closes schools | Grinch joins HEU protest | Irving Pulp and Paper charged with dumping | Privatizing Canada’s ports will hurt climate change fight | P3s: Unequal partners | UFC stars want to form union | Women’s national soccer team to form union | Why It’s Still Too Easy to Kill an Employee | Separating Fake News from real news | Teachers are regular people | Protesting Ontario tradespeople ‘mad as hell’ | Battle Between Cleary and Labour Movement Reaches Boiling Point | Asbestos opponents waiting for Liberals to act | Scores arrested in first ‘Fight for $15’ protest since Trump win

Brian Pallister’s government begins to show true colours
Sean Kavanaugh, CBC News
December 3, 2016

Premier Brian Pallister likes a good old-fashioned sound effect when deflecting a shot from the opposition during question period.

The PC leader often responds to a question about cuts, frontline service workers, collective agreements, or the like with a quick anecdote about previous government members in election mode, knocking on doors and promising what they can’t deliver and the province can’t afford. The question from the opposition rarely gets answered, but a seasoned audience will know what’s coming next.

UberEats driver protesting pay cuts in downtown Toronto. Photo: David Bush

Toronto UberEats drivers protest pay cuts
CBC News
December 4, 2016

On Saturday afternoon, UberEats drivers protested this week’s pay cuts — which hit driver pay from 25 to 50 per cent.

The protest, held in front of the downtown Toronto Uber office, included dozens of drivers.

“With this pay cut, the people who rely on this full time are not going to be able to pay their bills,” said spokesman and UberEats driver David Heller.

Ottawa seeks dismissal of Phoenix legal action forcing it to pay workers on time
Kate Simpson, CBC News
December 3, 2016

Government lawyers are calling on the Federal Court to dismiss a complaint seeking to force Ottawa to pay public servants on time while it sorts out its troubled payroll system.

The request is part of the government’s response to a legal action launched by several unions over the Phoenix payroll fiasco.

Parents scramble for childcare as Nova Scotia closes schools in teacher dispute
Anjuli Patil, CBC News
December 3, 2016mcneil

Parents have less than 48 hours to make childcare plans before the Nova Scotia government closes all public schools to avoid union job action it says would make students unsafe.

The Nova Scotia Teachers Union promised to begin work-to-rule in protest of failed contract negotiations. Instead, the Liberal government will try to force a contract on the union. Before doing so, the province announced Saturday it would close schools.

Grinch joins HEU protest
Carli Berry, Kelowna News
December 1, 2016

Hospital Employee Union members rallied Thursday to raise their concerns with recruitment and staffing at seniors’ care facilities following a vote to strike.

The rally featured a health-care worker dressed in a Grinch costume at Salmon Arm’s Hillside Village, operated by the Good Samaritan Societies, Dec. 1.

“It’s Christmas time and the Grinch goes along and steals all the toys and… in the end grows a big heart. On Dec. 12 we hope the employer grows a big heart as well,” said HEU negotiator Debbie Camal Ali.

Irving Pulp and Paper charged with dumping into St. John River
Connell Smith, CBC News
December 1, 2016

Irving Pulp and Paper Limited has been charged with 15 counts of illegal dumping into the St. John River.

The alleged federal Fisheries Act violations date from June 2014 through August 2016 and are said to have taken place at the company’s mill at Reversing Falls in west Saint John.

In each case it is claimed the company released a “deleterious” substance into the river.

Privatizing Canada’s Ports An ‘Invitation for More Conflict’ on Fossil Fuel Exports
James Wilt, DeSmog Canada
December 1, 2016

The federal government is considering privatizing Canada’s port authorities, a move that could further hinder public oversight and control over the export of commodities such as coal and crude oil.

On Nov. 14, the federal government announced the hiring of Morgan Stanley Canada to “provide financial advice to the Government related to the recommendations [contained in the Canada Transportation Act Review] concerning ports, including receiving proposals from institutional investors or private equity investors.”

Unequal partners: Power, profit and the public interest in P3s
Simon Enoch and Christine Saulnier, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
December 1, 2016

Here we are again reviewing the evidence that private business can deliver essential public services and infrastructure at less cost and with better results than the public sector. With the recent federal government announcement of the public infrastructure bank public-private partnerships (p3s), it is now seeking to reassure Canadians that it can develop contracts that will protect the public interest. So far, we have only heard the same proclamations underpinned by faulty assumptions, ignoring decades of real life examples of how these ‘partnerships’ have gone wrong, despite assurances that they would get it right this time.

UFC stars come together to form athlete association
Daniel Austin, Calgary Sun
November 30, 2016

A group of the UFC’s most prominent fighters say they’re not getting their fair share of revenue and it’s time that they did.

Front and centre in the push was Canadian legend Georges St. Pierre, and the man they call GSP was joined on a conference call with media by former heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, former bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw and perennial contenders Tim Kennedy and Donald Cerrone.

Canada’s top women want younger soccer players to have a kick at fair pay
Kerrie Gillespie, The Toronto Star
November 30, 2016

They’ve already made Canadian soccer history, winning back-to-back Olympic medals, and inspired countless young girls to take up the game.

Now, with the groundbreaking step of forming a union, Canada’s top players are looking to leave an even bigger legacy for sport: the possibility for women to make a good living out of soccer. That’s something that has been far harder for female players than their male counterparts nationally and globally.

Why It’s Still Too Easy to Kill an Employee
Tom Sandborn, The Tyee
November 28, 2016

For 26 miners deep in the notorious Westray Mine, the end came in fire. On May 9, 1992, every man underground in that misbegotten Pictou County mine died as untreated coal dust and poorly ventilated methane gas ignited, driving a hellish fireball through the tunnels. The dust and gases had been allowed to accumulate in the depths of the mine by a management team far more interested in maximizing profit for shareholders and fulfilling promises made to political sponsors than in worker safety. Safety regulators who were responsible for inspecting the mine failed to effectively identify and correct many defects to the recently opened mine’s ventilation, coal dust suppression and methane detection technologies.

Separating Fake News from real news
Nora Loreto, Canadian Association of Labour Media
November 29, 2016

The mainstream media missed the rise of Donald Trump. He slipped right under the noses of the major American networks. A majority of voting Americans knew something that the media was supposed to at least consider possible: he was poised to become president.

At first, many journalists blamed the polls. But the polls weren’t actually all that off. So blame shifted to the scourge of Fake News.

Dear parents — teachers are regular people who sometimes wear swimsuits
Emma Teitel
November 30, 2016

If you like to have fun, you’re lucky you weren’t a teacher in the 19th century.

According to a PBS series on the history of education, teachers in the 1800s weren’t just expected to demonstrate good behaviour for their students in the classroom (a given in any school, in any day); they were expected to uphold a squeaky clean image at all times, in and out of the classroom — unless of course they wanted to find themselves out of a job.

Protesting Ontario tradespeople ‘mad as hell’ over budget bill
Kate McGillivray, CBC News
November 30, 2016

Certified tradespeople from across Ontario gathered at Queen’s Park on Wednesday to protest against a provincial bill they say has the potential to threaten their jobs and put their safety on the line.

“Everybody here is mad as hell that this is being rammed through,” said organizer John Grimshaw, who estimated that 4,500 people were gathered at the peak of the demonstration.

Battle Between Cleary and Labour Movement Reaches Boiling Point
November 30, 2016

The battle between Ryan Cleary and the province’s labour movement has turned into all-out war.

Cleary, who is attempting to form a union to represent fish harvesters in the province has garnered the ire of the FFAW and its parent union, Unifor.

Yesterday, the Federation of Labour unanimously condemned what they call Cleary’s attempts to divide and conquer.

Asbestos opponents waiting for Liberals to act on promise
Paul Morden, Sarnia Observer
November 29, 2016

John Arnold remembers emptying 50-pound bags of asbestos into a wheelbarrow on the job decades ago when he was a 21-year-old worker at Dow Chemical in Sarnia.

He also remembers not wearing a respirator to protect his lungs, or hearing anyone at the plant warn him that breathing in asbestos fibers was something to worry about.

“I’m pretty lucky, I guess,” said Arnold, 65, who is now a training services representative at the Workers Health and Safety Centre in Sarnia.

Scores arrested in first ‘Fight for $15’ protest since Trump win
Lisa Baertlein and Timothy Mclaughlin, Reuters
November 30, 2016

Scores of demonstrators were arrested on Tuesday as U.S. fast-food and airport workers led nationwide ‘Fight for $15’ protests calling for higher pay and union rights in their first major action since Donald Trump was elected president.

Trump, an international property developer and reality TV star with no government experience, swept into power with promises of creating jobs, especially for downtrodden Americans.

The president-elect – who at various times on the campaign trail suggested U.S. workers were overpaid, but also that the minimum wage should be raised – is due to take office on Jan. 20.

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