Tag Archive: canadian labour congress

A New Year a New Class

Today the Canadian Labour Congress Ontario summer school kicked off. Many important course’s are underway to build and renew the labour movement in Canada. The participates have come from all around the province and are settled in to the Family Educational center in Port Elgin.

I have the great opportunity to deliver a course in labour technology and website building. Many trade union activist have for years relied on many forms of union communications (i.e posters, face-to-face meets and union newsletters) however this week we are going to spend our time on another form of union organizing, mobilizing members and educating the greater public with the use of web 2.0 tools. The increase in  smart phone technology and ‘soapbox’ options of transforming the message often not heard or seen in most media outlets today opens opportunity’s for labour to reach out.

In fact as brother Derek Blackadder wrote in the June/July Our Times magazine

Canadians now spend more time online than watching TV. Does your unions communications strategy reflect that? We have far more access to the web in getting out our message than we ever had to TV –

Well this week we hope to harness the tools available to our movement to create the better world that is possible.  Our workshop is focused on the content management system of weebly. A simple drop menu of widgets and elements in a system that new users can quickly pick up, get creative and quickly get their word out on the campaigns and struggles their members and workers around the world are currently facing.

As we build, develop and host discussion of broader communications using the web, I’m sure the unions who have invested in labour education will have a greater equipped activist in their member ranks at the end of this week.  Stay tuned for what’s to come.

Again, I want to thank those who have supported building and supporting the work needed in order to bring this program to our members and our movement.

A Focus on Young Workers and Unions

For young workers, the so-called recovery is meaningless to nonexistent. Most of us have been facing a crisis from the very beginning of our working lives. We’ve been unable to build up even the most meager basis for establishing ourselves. Those of us who have tried to strike out on our own in our late teens or early twenties, the way our parents or grandparents did, have found it nearly impossible.

We’ve been faced with poverty wages and non-union jobs, no benefits and zero job security. Most young people are forced to float from job to job, searching desperately for one that might pay fifty cents or a dollar more per hour. And that is if we get really lucky. A few quick facts will help to show the full scope of the picture.

According to one survey, most workers between the ages of eighteen and thirty make $21,000 or less per year, nowhere near a living wage. As of June, the youth unemployment rate (for workers under twenty) was approximately 47 percent, while the picture was even worse in America, with 55 percent of those under twenty terminally unemployed. If the figures for immigrant youth were included, these statistics would be far, far worse.

Those lucky enough to have gone to college enter the work force under a mountain of debt. More than 31 percent of workers under thirty have no health insurance. Most can barely pay the bills and are often forced to live in communal homes or with their families in order to cover the cost of living.

It is a dismal situation. But the situation is not beyond solving. The first task, and the most pressing, is for the trade unions to do what they are supposed to – organize! The unions must organize so-called casual workers in order to secure better conditions for a new generation of workers, and fight militantly for those conditions to remain once won.

The second task for the trade unions is to greatly expand apprenticeship programs. Most unions have already abandoned these. That was a major error! With large-scale apprenticeship programs, a layer of skilled, highly educated and militant unionists can be brought into being virtually overnight. The jobs these apprentices can enter will be high-wage, full benefit jobs, especially in the skilled trades.

In order to have quality jobs available, the unions must mobilize the rank and file and the unemployed for a massive program of public jobs – millions of union jobs — not the paltry ones created by a so called stimulus package.

Thirdly, the trade unions must open union hiring halls, in order to expedite the unemployed into job openings. These hiring halls must be entirely under union control. That demand goes along with that of a closed shop. Union jobs for union workers, with union control over hiring and firing.

Ultimately, however, even if all these measures are put in place, the problem will not be solved entirely. There is no solution for unemployment under capitalism. This system is incapable of providing full employment in the current world economic situation due to the nature of and limits of the market, which demands a smaller workforce producing more. The only system which can perpetually guarantee full employment is socialism.

(This appeared as a comment by Ritch on my last post. It deserves to be highlighted as a guest post.)

The events at the G20 demonstration on Saturday have provoked a series of responses already. This article is not meant to review the events of the day itself but to look at the questions raised by the demonstrations.

Suffice to say the reaction of the police in arresting, detaining, and brutalizing nearly 1,000 people in the largest mass arrests in Canadian history exposes the serious attacks on civil liberties we face.

On Friday before the demonstration I was having a beer with a comrade in Halifax and of course discussion turned to the G20, we both agreed that this would be the perfect demonstration to go off without any property damage. If at the end of the day tens of thousands marched, thousands did sit-ins by the fence but the tactic of smashing windows was not employed then the summit would be a defeat for Harper.

We drew this analysis based on the fact that every where you went there was anger at the billion dollar price tag for security. At a time when thousands are struggling to make ends meet and see the cost of the Summits as exorbitant. Many, consciously or not, recognize that this money is being spent to the architects of the crisis; protecting those who gave billions to the bank while leaving workers and the poor to pay for it. Furthermore, in the lead-up, there was a growing polarisation with many being angry or frustrated with Harper’s attacks on civil liberties, on women’s rights, on the climate, on the economy, and more.

To have had a day of mass demonstrations and militant but non- violent action would have left Harper with egg on his face and given more confidence to those want to find ways to challenge Harper and the market.

Instead, the day went just like clock work—much like other summits. There’s a mass demonstration. A layer of people do a split from that march and then some engage in expressing their rage against the system by smashing windows and other acts. Given the world we live in, it is surprising that more of this doesn’t happen more often.

In response, the police hold back until the main march disperses. They wait for some damage to be done, and then they go on the offensive. They round-up and brutalize everyone left on the streets, including passers-by, peaceful protesters and those engaged in property damage. In Seattle, Quebec, Genoa, etc. this script has played out over and over again. The police wait until the mass organisations leave, then go after the rest. This strategy suggests that the police and the state are keenly aware of who they want—and don’t want—to provoke.

Within this the “black bloc” and their supporters utilise the larger rally and split marches to launch attacks on property and the police. Usually the police wait long enough for damage to be created before they respond. In these situations it is one of the few times the police wait to crack down. Continue reading

How Are You??

I recently received an email from a Friend of mine. She asked how I was doing, how workers were doing and could their be a way forward for our society. She is a very apathetic individual, never seeing the purpose of standing up and voicing ones self. In the letter that she wrote she made mention of workers living beyond their means. I took offence to this!! And so here is what I wrote.

Hey how are you?

I’m doing alright… Was a little down for a while ago but i’m bouncing back. Glad to hear your day was good. You have a funny way with words sometimes so maybe that’s why they have so much fun with you at school. ;-)

“””I continue to hear stories of how the economy affects people and their families. Guess one quickly learns what you need/vs want; and when (not if) it turns around there will be a whole lot of grateful people (hopefully that is what they take from it, not go and start the cycle all over again-buying houses they can’t really afford etc.)”””

I didn’t really agree with what you wrote here. (Above) Not to argue or vindicate but……
most people live within their means…. I would say that more people in upper income brackets live outside their means. (CEO’s, Owners, Politicians) lol
All live above their means, whereas most Canadians thrive to find good secure employment. One that provides an opportunity for them to live debt free,  afford a reasonable home, provide for their families and community. All of a sudden there is a massive economic shit storm that they themselves were not responsible for comes along. The crisis that sits amongst us was created as the ‘paper economy’ exchanged worthless value to each other until one got caught with the hot potato.(US housing and energy costs)(being tied to the US dollar) The entire human population is now  infected.

After all Canadians just gave $200 billion to banks. None of which will ever be returned. Workers are now being forced to reduce wage levels and benefits, that in turn leads to less revenue for tax dollar programs. Simply put, in a world where billions of people lack the incomes to purchase goods and services, and where the big imperialist powers waste trillions on militarism rather than clean water, housing, medical care and other necessities, this way of living under capitalism is in deep trouble. That won’t change anytime soon, unless working people succeed in winning fundamental change. It’s just something to think about.

The Darlington incinerator seems to be moving through. We are in the ’11Th hour’. Immediate action is required in order to stop this region from building an incinerator. I still have a ton of projects going on simultaneously.

Thanks for the email,

EI. Rallies

Fix EI rally at Canada services office in scarbough, an alliance of Steelworkers,o Canadian Auto Workers, International Brotherhood of Electrial Workers, Canadian Labour Congress

Youth umployment sits at 14.2% the highest since 2001. Untill the many problems with employment insurance are fixed this economy will get worse and many more workers will need access to the 57 billion dollars the both previous governments have stole.