Tag Archive: twotier wages

(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

Two Tier Wages and Contract Work

There are a lot of important issues facing our Members their families and the surrounding community in times of Job loss and temporary lay-off. Young workers and Young families are especially affected in their sense of security within their workplace. Wondering what job they will have next or what jobs will be there for their sons and daughters. This is a very important time for more Young people to become more engaged in their role in the labor movement and as workers. An enormous amount of government leaders and business executives across the world are making decisions that benefit big business and stock holders rather than working class people, Trade agreements that destroy the very fabric of our society that are killing manufacturing jobs across this country. Workers being subjected to unsafe and inhumane conditions in their workplace, all in the name of wealth accumulation. The Fight against these decisions weather its fair trade policies, safety legislation improvements, the right to join a union, equality and stopping the gap between the wealthy and the poor. More working people have got to become more involved and more aware of just what’s going on and how all this impacts their lives now and into the future. Two-Tier Wage Systems: For those of you who maybe haven’t heard of some of the recent Hi-Lights (or Low-Lights) in the recent U.A.W contract south of the border, the UAW has once again given way to weakening the fundamental principle of unionism. All workers regardless of skill, gender and race are entitled to equal pay for the same work. The UAW has managed to create a second class workforce. New workers will now be hired at half the wages and half the benefits of existing members. This very disappointing decision not only weakens a union, but further allows a major threat to all workers everywhere to lower their wages. This can’t be a wise decision considering G.M has a much older and closer to retirement workforce. They will indeed have significantly more new hires in the future. Workers that now have much leaner work environments and increased cost of living will have even more stress placed upon them throughout their working lives. Two – Tier wage scales will also create greater animosity between new and existing workers. Low wage workers no longer see high-wage workers as setting the standard, but as having benefits they can never aspire to have. This will play off well in creating division amongst workers who have been able to win more, and by pitting worker against worker, we all lose. Today’s workforce is more productive and the rights won by yesterday’s struggles are not to be forgotten nor should they be handed over. These injustices to workers will have major implications for Canadian workers as well. Young workers will definitly be the victim in these decisions. Contract/ Temporary Workers: A major issue facing young workers today is precarious employment. Precarious employment is work found in Part-Time, Temporary or Contract work agreements. Precarious jobs are very common amongst young workers and those new to the workforce. Often, temporary work involves the use of a third party. Many employers, including government, hire temps (workers) through agencies. In 2003 about 386,000 Canadian workers were being used by agencies. This number has surly increased in recent years. These types of work account for one fifth of overall growth in paid employment. It seems that a new agency tends to pop up here and there every few years. Some of the reasons behind why so many agencies come and go is due to their blatant disregard for work employment standards and workers safety. These workers tend to suffer more injuries then permanent employees, and those injuries tend to be more serious. All employers are by law required to train their employees of potential hazards, policy’s and provide safe work environments regardless of permanent or temporary status. These agencies as well as employers have an important role to ensure the safety of the workers that they hire is being met. Yet many new workers are reporting that they did not receive any training what so ever. The workers within these work contracts make 40 percent less than permanent workers, have fewer benefits, rarely receive stat holiday pay, and rarely qualify for Employment Insurance benefits. There are also some workers who are forced into subcontracting work and face exorbitant fees for work assignments that often never materialize into full time employment. (Ex. Having to buy their own cleaning supplies for janitorial work) this treatment of subcontracting allows employers to be exempt from labour laws. Unpaid wages, vacation pay, termination without severance, unpaid overtime and holidays account for 90% of all complaints to the Ministry of Labour in Ontario in 2004-2005. The Workers Action Center has been doing excellent work at addressing these issues and pushing for improvements in the treatment of precarious employment. For more Information there website can be found at http://www.workersactioncenter.org The Youth committee will be extending an open invitation to all Young workers across our great local, to join us at our meetings held every third Monday of the month. Come out and get plugged in to what is happening in your union and how you can become more involved in shaping your future as workers. In Peace and Solidarity John MacDonald