Tag Archive: labour


Guest Blog also posted in the Huffington Post.

 

Part 2: Hudak and Harper Attempt to Silence their Critics

Sid Ryan, President, Ontario Federation Labour

This is part two of a three-part reply to Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak’s series of HuffPost blogs about his party’s “Path to Prosperity” white paper.

From Queen’s Park to Parliament Hill, if there is one lesson that Conservatives have learned from Indiana, Alabama, Louisiana and other states where “right-to-work” laws have decimated worker representation and driven down wages, it is that attacking unions is also the best way to silence your critics. It has become standard training for every new conservative strategist: you cannot implement a cheap labour economy without neutralizing opposition.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has led the way byattacking the finances of any group or individual that dared to criticize his policies: de-funding church-based charities and immigrant advocacy organizations, smearing environmental groups and firing outspoken public servants. And now, Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak is taking a page from the Harper playbook by attacking unions.

Because unions have an independent source of funding they are far less susceptible to the state-sanctioned bullying and financial blackmail regularly meted out by governments in collusion with the corporate elite. By undermining dues collection at source, Hudak hopes to undermine workers’ ability to oppose his agenda.

Last month, Hudak released his party’s white paper on “Flexible Labour Markets” and, in doing so, opened up a new attack on generations of hard-fought workers’ rights. In seeking to repeal the Rand Formula, Hudak opens an affront on workers’ rights that even former premier Mike Harris was unwilling to touch. The Rand Formula is a basic tenet of workplace democracy that was secured nearly 60 years ago to ensure that all those in the workplace who benefit from the improved wages and benefits achieved by the union make the same financial contribution. While the law allows workers not to join a union, they are required to contribute to charity an amount equivalent to the dues paid by union members.
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Below and attached is a detailed background document providing analysis of Tim Hudak’s recent white paper on “Flexible Labour Markets.” Hudak’s paper poses a threat to the livelihoods of all working people by proposing to eliminate workers’ right to collectively bargain and by driving wages down across the board.

Please circulate the attached analysis to your members so they can challenge Hudak’s arguments in the workplace, in their communities, and in the media.

In solidarity,

Sid Ryan

President of the Ontario Federation of Labour

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OFL BACKGROUNDER

Tim Hudak’s White Paper on Flexible Labour Markets

Published on July 16, 2012Courtesty of TARA WALTON/TORONTO STAR

Flexible Labour Means Cheap labour

In June 2012, Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak opened up a new attack on labour unions and working people with his release of his white paper on “Flexible Labour Markets.” The paper lays out the Tories’ new platform on workers’ rights and unveils an economic scheme for the province that is centered on reduced public services and cheap labour. Blindly aligning their interests with those of profit-hungry corporations, the Tories fault unions for the province’s economic difficulties while offering no plan for creating new jobs, revitalizing the manufacturing sector or securing greater corporate investments in the provincial economy. They propose to bring Wisconsin-style laws to Ontario that would eliminate the rights of workers to collectively bargain and drive wages down for all workers. Hudak’s proposal is a plan for poverty, not prosperity, and it requires strong opposition from workers from every sector, whether union or non-union.

Flexible Labour Means Cheap labour

Throughout the white paper, Hudak laments the wages and benefits secured by workers in Ontario’s manufacturing sector and blames the workers for expecting to maintain middle-class wages to support their families. For Hudak, “prosperity” means turning Ontario into a low-wage, regulation-free haven where corporations rake in profit at the expense of Ontario workers, communities and the environment. “Flexible labour” means cheap labour.

In this respect, Hudak differs little from his federal counterpart Stephen Harper, who, as Prime Minister, has presided over an expanded Temporary Foreign Worker Program, allowing employers greater leeway to import people from all over the world with precious little obligation for their well-being. When the work is done, or if the worker is maimed on the job, they are literally disposed of—sent back to their home countries with nary a thought. Most recently, the Harper government gave employers the green light to pay migrant workers between 5 and 15 percent less than the average wage for that occupation

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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.

CHANGES TO EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS UNDER BILL 68 = MORE BARRIERS FOR WORKERS
Proposed changes to Employment Standards under Bill 68, Open for Business Act will create huge barriers for workers who face unpaid wages. The Workers’ Action Centre and Parkdale Community Legal Services are calling on the provincial government to stop proposed changes that would bring in mandatory self-enforcement and could force workers to settle for less than what they are owed.
Proposed changes under Bill 68 include:
Mandatory self-enforcement of ESA rights
Bill 68 would require most workers to try and enforce their ESA rights with their boss before filing a claim.
Facilitated settlements
Bill 68 would give the power to the Ministry to settle claims for less than what workers are owed under the law.
Required information before a claim will be accepted
Bill 68 would require workers to provide information about their employer and arguments about their case before a claim will be accepted, without a commitment to provide support to workers filing claims.

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Make a Difference in Your Purchase!

Did you know that what you buy can make a difference in our Country and our community’s now!! We are part of six billion people on the planet; the onus is on us North American’s – the upper 20% that consumes 80% of the world’s resources. Driving hybrid cars and limiting industrial emissions is great, but they are band-aid solutions if we don’t address the core problem: we have to consume less, to fix the environmental and ethical consequences of overconsumption. We can help by not purchasing products that contain lots of empty packaging. By leaving our packaging behind at the counter and telling the business you shop at the you didn’t need this packaging they would be responsible for disposing of the waste in extra packaging, in turn they might contact there suppliers to tell them that their customers don’t want extra packaging. By reduce the waste we create we can keep landfills from filling with harmful waste products that contain chemicals and non- bio-degradable materials that harm our environment. We also have the purchasing power to make a difference in our ethical shopping of non-sweatshop garments by insisting that the clothes we ware are made in North America or by companies that have not violated international human rights with child labour. Supporting Local farmers just makes sense. It’s fresher, safer then harmful chemicals used during transportation and best of all supports our local communities. Buying Canadian made products helps keep Canadians working. By just taking these few extra minutes to check where your spending your money can help slow globalization from driving down the cost to our communities. We are the consumers we have the power!!! I realize that not all products are going to be made in Canada… but if it means spending a bit more on a product that is made by my fellow Canadians then it might also be better material and better built. We have to hold business accountable for the products and services they sell. A recent report named the substance PERC (Perchloroethylene) a chemical used in the dry cleaning process to be hazards to our health and can lead to cancer or Liver failure, yet some dry cleaners say they would not stop using PERC. Perhaps a letter advising people that liver failure might occur by using their service is not as important as turning a profit at your customers loss.

Think Globally Act Locally

Think Globally Act Locally