Tag Archive: ontario


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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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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United steel workers 9511 – Drive Test

Seven hundred and fifty (750) government employees, most of which were full-time with benefits and pension plans. How many Serco DES employees are currently on strike? Well, after imposing a 15% pay cut and taking away their pensions, Serco DES has whittled down its workforce to about five hundred (500). However, they haven’t stopped there. They’ve turned formerly good jobs into marginal employment: 50% of Serco DES employees are now part-time with no benefits, with no guaranteed number of hours each week, and Serco DES is seeking to convert more employees into part-timers.

So out of the original 750 good jobs, 250 have been lost entirely. Of the remaining 500, the company has marginalized 250. That means that only a third of the original jobs remain. So, did the Conservative government succeed in creating a climate for job creation? Clearly not. The privatization of driver testing in Ontario has decimated hundreds of jobs in the province.

Which brings us to the public interest. With hundreds of jobs eliminated and marginalized, the province and the communities where these workers work(ed) have seen a decline in tax revenues. Local economies will have seen a decline proportionate to the decline in spending power of these workers. The ripple effects of job loss and job marginalization in communities are widespread. Is that in the public interest?

Keep our communitys safe

Keep Our Communities Safe!

A backbench Conservative Member of Parliament’s plan to dismantle the registration of rifles and shotguns in Canada became closer to reality on November 4.

That’s when 20 opposition MPs joined with the entire government caucus to send Bill C-391 (which would change the Criminal Code and repeal the long gun registry) to a committee for study before being brought back for a final vote. It was a big setback for public safety.

Heading into the final steps of the law-making process with a 27-vote lead gives C-391 a good chance of succeeding. If that happens, registration of rifles and shotguns would stop and the government would delete the nearly 8 million firearms records used today by police and other law enforcement officials.

Police use those records to keep themselves and our communities safe. Statistics show that gun registry information is accessed as often as 10,000 times a day. Statistics also show a 50% drop in gun-related spousal homicides since records started being kept.

We can still turn things around.

People who think it’s a good idea to keep track of weapons like rifles and shotguns for the sake of public safety need to have their voices heard. That’s the only way to get at least 14 MPs to change their minds about C-391 and stop it from happening.

If your MP is a Conservative, your voice is especially important. That’s because the Conservative Party has a history of strong support for public safety and the police.

It doesn’t make sense that so many Conservative MPs who represent communities where the police say they need the gun registry, and where public support for keeping track of guns remains strong, voted in favour of C-391. They clearly need to hear more about this from the people they represent.

Which is why we’re asking for your help today. We need to convince a few MPs to change their minds about C-391, and vote NO when it returns to the House of Commons for final approval.

You can help us make this happen.

Forward this message to 20 of your friends.
Ask them to do the same.
Join our Facebook page.
Tell all your Facebook friends about it.
Send a post card to the Prime Minister
about how gun control is an important part of any plan to reduce violence against women.

Tell them the law is working. Tell them that gun-related spousal homicide is down 50% since the gun registry was started. Tell them to keep our communities safe. Tell them to vote against C-391 (if you really want to get their attention, add that you won’t vote for anyone who votes in favour of C-391 come the next election).
We know there are more Canadians who support having rifles and shotguns registered for public safety than who want to see this important policing tool dismantled and all of its records destroyed.

That’s why it’s still possible to turn things around and win this one for public safety.

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