November 23, 2017
Biennial Convention of the Ontario
Federation of Labour
Settling Scores with
Our Own Ruling Class
Biennial Convention of the Ontario Federation of Labour
• Settling Scores with Our Own Ruling Class
• Challenges Facing Ontario Workers -
Ontario Liberals and
PCs Pass Back-to-Work Legislation Against
Striking College Faculty
• Negotiate Don't Dictate!
• Congratulations to All Those Who Fought to
Affirm the Rights
of All! - David Starbuck
Morneau's Company Takes Control of Stelco Pensions
• Parasites Feeding Off Workers' Pensions
• Administration of Stelco Pensions for a
Contracted User Fee
Quebec Metallurgical Workers Step Up National and
• Step Up Support for CEZinc Workers Fighting
for Their Dignity
and Rights! - Pierre Chénier
Labour Shortage in the Trucking Industry
• Truckers Discuss the Necessity to Organize to
Defend Their Rights Under All Conditions - Normand Chouinard
Biennial Convention of the Ontario
Federation of Labour
Settling Scores with Our Own Ruling Class
The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) is holding its
Biennial Convention under the banner "Power ON" from November 20
to 24, 2017 in Toronto at the Sheraton Centre Hotel.
This OFL convention is the last before the
provincial election expected on June 7, 2018. It
as the Trudeau Liberals appear set to sign the Trans-Pacific
something greatly opposed by
the Ontario working class in the last election, especially autoworkers.
Meanwhile, instead of taking up the fight here against the
Canadian ruling class
and its Trudeau government which has subordinated Canada to U.S.
authority, the organized autoworkers, who are mainly concentrated in
Ontario, are being called on to join the Trump administration in
attacking Mexico in the NAFTA negotiations. The aim is allegedly to
wages and standards so the monopolies cannot use them to drive down
Canadian wages and threaten to move production to Mexico.
Meanwhile, steelworkers who have carried a determined
and ongoing fight against the
legalized theft of the Companies'
Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) and to embark on a new
direction of nation-building within a self-reliant economy are being
told that they should abandon their own thinking and outlook and
Trudeau and Trump in opposing alleged Chinese dumping of steel in
Canada as the main problem. The Trudeau Liberals refuse to defend what
belongs to Canadian workers by right including their pensions,
benefits, steel mills, jobs and economy, which are issues Canadians can
control. Steelworkers and others are told to forget the reality they
face and abandon their own fights against U.S. and other foreign
monopolies destroying Canada's steel industry and broader economy. Give
up your own demands for nation-building the working people are told;
rally behind this or that monopoly that has problems competing globally
with other monopolies. Take up every demand of the
monopolies and ruling class as your own and give up organizing your own
working class forces for a determined and self-reliant struggle for
your rights, a new direction for the economy and nation-building, which
necessarily means settling accounts with our own ruling class right
here in Canada.
The ruling elite do
everything possible to present the problems facing the working class as
"out there" in the global sphere, supposedly organized by shadowy
forces over which Canadians have no power nor should they even wish to
control. Canadian working people want control over those
affairs that directly affect them in the here and now and reality of
block this yearning for control, the ruling class attempts to divert
them into other issues such as marshalling workers as a voting bloc
behind different versions of an agenda that serves the rich and does
not originate with the thinking and outlook of the working class. This
was the case in 2015 with their push for workers to vote for the
Trudeau neo-liberal austerity agenda as opposed to the Harper version,
instead of having their own working class aim and agenda.
The working class has to address this problem of
constantly being pressured to line up behind interests that are not its
own if it hopes to make any advance. We see this now with the attempts
of the ruling class to rally the working class behind tweaks to Ontario
labour laws. Reforms that serve the working class within the bourgeois
system of representative democracy are only possible when the working
class wages a determined fight for its own rights, agenda and aim, and
firmly establishes its interests as the interests of the nation. For
workers to reduce their aim to tweaking labour laws that did not arise
from the working class itself and their own thinking and outlook will
not serve to defend their rights and movement towards their
important demands for changes in labour
and other laws to serve its own interests. For example, workers demand
the defence of the pensions they have and the extension of pensions to
all. At this moment, steelworkers, their allies and workers in
different sectors of the economy are fighting to end the legalized
theft under CCAA of what belongs to them by right, including their
Workers demand justice for injured workers, the
withdrawal of legislation aimed at undermining the right of workers to
organize and bargain collectively and an end to labour laws creating
tiers of workers with different rights according to whether or not they
have citizenship or any other consideration.
Working people demand an
to the neo-liberal austerity agenda and for an increase in investments
in social programs and to stop paying the rich.
The working class demands Canada end its involvement in
predatory wars in the service of various imperialist alliances in the
name of peacekeeping. Workers oppose Canada's meddling in countries
such as Venezuela, Korea, Haiti and anywhere else the U.S. imperialists
are currently targeting. Workers want an anti-war government and to
make Canada a zone for peace.
Delegates to the OFL convention can make headway by
raising these matters of concern to the working class when they return
home, in whatever way possible, and in so doing begin to settle
accounts with our own ruling class.
Challenges Facing Ontario Workers
As the Ontario Federation of Labour holds its biennial
convention in Toronto, the passage of back-to-work legislation against
striking college workers by the Ontario government is on the minds of
In passing back-to-work
legislation, the Wynne government is continuing
the direction of criminalizing workers' strike actions. To make this
less apparent and to soften the blow, it is imposing arbitration (or in
this case mediation-arbitration). But by making the arbitrator operate
within the parameters of the government's
anti-social austerity agenda in a very prescribed way, the arbitrator
becomes a "handmaid" of the government. This allows the government to
have a contract imposed without having to do it directly. It also
ensures that the arbitrator operates strictly within the parameters set
by the government rather than according to what is needed by the
workers who provide the different services and the people who use those
It has become the mechanism of choice of the ruling
elite in Ontario to try to eliminate the right of workers to have a
real say over their wages and working conditions by presenting
arbitration as an "alternative." Since 2008 when the Ontario government
ordered striking Toronto transit workers back to work, it has sought
to eliminate workers' right to strike in the name of "protecting the
public" while at the same time preventing arbitrators and the
arbitration system from making necessary increased investment in public
services. This is the program of the ruling class in general in
Ontario as the PCs have also championed this demand while in a minority
with the Liberals and while in opposition during a majority Liberal
In 2011, banker Don Drummond was commissioned by the
McGuinty Liberal government to propose a complete restructuring of
Ontario's public services to serve the aim of freeing up billions in
public revenue for debt and deficit financing and other direct
pay-the-rich schemes for monopolies favoured by the Liberals. The 2012
Drummond Report addressed the matter of labour relations and sought to
"re-balance" the labour relations regime in general to block working
people -- especially those in public services -- from defending or
improving their working conditions on the basis that this represented
an unacceptable cost to the government and the "taxpayer." Meanwhile,
the billions in interest payments to the very TD Bank that had
previously employed Drummond, and payments to other private monopolies
in Ontario, were not presented as a cost to be reduced but as the
reason for the restructuring itself.
The report of the Commission on the Reform of Public
Services in Ontario that Drummond headed called on the government to
"Develop specific and well-defined objective criteria that interest
arbitrators would be required to account for in formulating their
awards/decisions. For example, 'ability to pay' criteria should be
include economic and fiscal environment, and productivity criteria in
The program of the Liberals
is the program of the ruling elite to use every opportunity to limit
workers' right to say No and
to present them as a "cost," while paying
the rich is a given, not to be questioned. In the case of
the college faculty's strike it is being done through the arbitration
system and the normalization of new
criteria arbitrators must follow.
The government has gone beyond simply requiring the
arbitrator's award to be determined according to an employer's "ability
to pay" and prescribed further criteria negating the
ability of the arbitrator to do anything but impose the neo-liberal
austerity agenda. The exact same language constraining the arbitrator's
decision-making used in the legislation to end the 2008 Toronto
Transit Commission strike was included in the back-to-work legislation
against striking college faculty.
The law in both cases reads:
"In making an award, the mediator-arbitrator shall take
into consideration all factors that he or she considers relevant,
including the following criteria:
"1. The employers' ability to pay in light of their
"2. The extent to which services may have to be
reduced, in light of the award, if current funding and taxation levels
are not increased.
"3. The economic situation in Ontario.
"4. A comparison, as between the employees and
comparable employees in the public and private sectors, of the nature
of the work performed and of the terms and conditions of employment.
"5. The employers' ability to attract and retain
"6. The purposes of the Public Sector Dispute
Resolution Act, 1997.
In 2015, the Wynne Liberals passed back-to-work
legislation against four groups of striking workers in the K-12
education sector that imposed an arbitrary deadline for a "negotiated
agreement" to be reached after their strikes were outlawed; if it was
not met, the matter would immediately go to arbitration. This is
consistent with the action taken against the college faculty: the
imposition of an unrealistic, arbitrary deadline and then presenting
arbitration as the solution.
As more and more workers' struggles are being
criminalized through back-to-work legislation, and as legislation
declaring workers "essential" makes going on strike illegal, the use of
arbitration to impose contracts is becoming increasingly frequent. In
certain cases, it is the workers themselves who demand arbitration
after getting nowhere at the
bargaining table in the hope that an independent arbitrator will do
them justice. However the arbitration system is being restructured and
it is highly likely that whoever seeks to get the nod from the ruling
elite in Canada to win the upcoming Ontario election will be tasked
with ensuring this restructuring is permanent.
What is important to
consider is that the main aim of using back-to-work legislation and
then presenting arbitration as an alternative is to eliminate the
ability of workers to have a say over their wages and working
conditions. It is part and parcel of the overall program of the ruling
elite to suppress the interests of the people and their right to
conscience by strengthening the police powers of the state. This
say of the workers however is the decisive factor for the defence of
public services and their improvement. In the case of education, the
government's actions are condemnable because it is
eliminating the decisive factor for defending students' learning
notwithstanding the government's claim that all its actions are
undertaken in the interests of students. By imposing arbitration and
telling employers that they need not bargain, the government is making
dictate -- in this case by the government and then an arbitrator who is
bound by the government -- the norm. This does not favour the working
people or those who rely on the services they provide.
More and more the ruling elite and their governments
will go in the direction of declaring services "essential," not to
defend the public interest but to negate workers' right to strike or
take other actions to ensure they have the working conditions necessary
to deliver such indispensable public services. As the workers find ways
to reject dictate the government will seek to strengthen its powers to
criminalize any actions they take, such as working to rule, labelling
them "illegal strikes" because they are "coordinated," as established
in precedents set by Ontario Labour Relations Board rulings against
teachers and other workers.
The working people of Ontario have to consider this
trend in working out a way forward that serves their interests. One
solution being presented is that electing the NDP will address this
problem and give the workers leverage. How this would give them
leverage and leverage for what has to be discussed. In addition, how
would this challenge the program of the ruling elite to put all the
resources of the society at the disposal of the rich and hand over
Canada's resources and territory to U.S. authority? Whether or
not it would put the
workers in a stronger position to affirm their rights and the rights of
all has to be discussed and worked out, otherwise it only serves to
divert from solving the problems facing the working people in the
In other cases workers are being told that arbitration, as has been
prescribed for the colleges, is better than staying out on strike, and
that the only way to really fight is through electing a different
However, finding ways to say No! to dictate by
employers and the government is vital, as is ensuring that the broader
public is mobilized to affirm that workers having a say defends the
rights of all. The resounding No!
vote of college faculty to their
employer's forced offer reveals that the working people overwhelmingly
reject dictate. This is a
very positive factor. This No!
must continue to have its expression and
not be suppressed. It shows that the sentiment of the workers is to
uphold their dignity and reject dictate. This comes from pride in
the important work they do and the vital services they provide for the
society. It is this factor which favours the society as a whole and why
it is important to find ways to prevent the elimination of the
voice of the working people in setting their wages and working
Ontario Liberals and PCs Pass
Against Striking College Faculty
Negotiate Don't Dictate!
College Faculty on November 16, 2017 overwhelmingly rejected forced
On Sunday, November 19, the back-to-work
legislation against striking Ontario college faculty -- Bill 178,
the Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology Labour Dispute
Resolution Act, 2017 -- passed third reading with the
Progressive Conservatives (PCs) supporting the Wynne Liberals and the
The back-to-work legislation came in the context of
college faculty overwhelmingly rejecting the College Employer Council's
"last offer" on November 16 in a vote forced on them by the
Labour Relations Board, following which the Ontario government stepped
in to impose an arbitrary 5:00 pm deadline for a
new agreement to be reached or it would impose a mediator-arbitrator
and declare the strike illegal. This deadline was given despite the
fact the conditions blocking college faculty from reaching a suitable
agreement for the past five weeks -- the lack of good faith bargaining
on the part of the Council, in the best interests of the students,
and the college system as a whole -- had not changed.
Faculty at La Cité College, return to classes November 20, 2017
march of protest against back-to-work legislation.
When the deadline passed without an agreement, the
announced that it was introducing legislation to declare the strike
illegal and for all outstanding issues to be referred to "binding
mediation-arbitration." It was unable to get expedited passage of the
legislation as the NDP did not agree to it, so sittings of the
Legislature were held
over the weekend.
A government backgrounder, released three hours after
deadline, indicated that the mediator-arbitrator would have the
exclusive power to determine all matters necessary to conclude a new
collective agreement, and would have the ability to assist the parties
in settling any related matter. In other words the mediator-arbitrator
would have the singular power to impose a new contract on
striking fulltime and partial-load faculty, something bound to have
significant ramifications for an even larger number of part-time,
sessional and contract faculty who are still without union
representation. Clearly the results of their unionization vote will now
take on even more significance.
The government presented its introduction of
back-to-work legislation as a matter of assisting students based on
fraudulent claims that the two sides had hit an impasse when in fact
the College Employer Council had scuttled negotiations to force a vote
on its unacceptable offer.
In Bill 178's preamble, the government claims it
tried over the
five weeks of the strike to assist the parties in resolving their
differences through mediation but was unsuccessful. As a result, it
states that "the education and preparation for employment of
over 220,000 full-time students has been disrupted," adding that
"successful achievement of the program learning outcomes required for
job readiness may be at serious risk." It then singles out the
"preparation for employment" programs with a breakdown of the numbers
of students in apprenticeships as well as in the Literacy and Basic
Skills, Academic Upgrading and Second Career programs and clients who
receive a variety of Ontario government-funded job search and other
employment assistance services through the colleges.
To justify forcing an end to the strike the government
goes on to
say that "these negative consequences, particularly for vulnerable
students, may be long term in nature," and that continuation of the
dispute "gives rise to serious public interest concerns."
The back-to-work legislation ensures that the framework
resulting contract is firmly situated in the anti-social neo-liberal
austerity agenda of the ruling class, that demands restraint from the
people in order to the pay the rich by attacking social programs and
undermining proper working conditions. This will be done by requiring
mediator-arbitrator to take into consideration criteria such as the
colleges' "ability to pay" and the province's economic situation.
Furthermore, the legislation specifies that the mediator-arbitrator
must take into consideration "the extent to which services may have to
be reduced, in light of the award, if current funding and taxation
levels are not
College faculty at various colleges return to work en masse and post group photos to
OPSEU Facebook page, reflecting
their unity and determination in face of the back-to-work legislation.
prepare to return to George Brown College in Toronto November 20, 2017.
To fool the gullible, the government claims that
"Nothing in the
proposed Act prohibits the parties from continuing to negotiate, and
they would be encouraged to do so." Nothing of course except the fact
that the Employer Council no longer needs to negotiate as workers have
strike made illegal, with a similar fate likely for any future
work-to-rule action to affirm their rights.
The legislation makes clear that any opposition will
tolerated and asserts that anyone who contravenes or fails to comply
with the prohibition on strikes or lockouts is guilty of an offence. On
conviction, an individual would be liable to a fine of not more
than $1,000; and in the case of an employer or union, a fine of
than $25,000, with each day of contravention or noncompliance
constituting a separate offence.
Furthermore a strike in contravention of Bill 178
is deemed an unlawful strike under the Colleges Collective
Bargaining Act, 2008 and its associated penalties.
Bill 178 states that each employee in the
bargaining unit shall
"without delay, resume the performance of the duties of his or her
employment or shall continue performing them, as the case may be."
Until a new collective agreement is in place, the terms and conditions
of employment that applied on the day before the back-to-work
legislation took effect continue to apply, unless the parties agree
Bill 178 contains provisions for the employer and
union to agree on
a mediator-arbitrator or if that is not possible for one to be imposed
by the Minister of Labour as well as timelines for the
selection and for the mediator-arbitrator to begin proceedings. No
application to question the government's choice of mediator-arbitrator
or "to prohibit or restrain any of the mediator-arbitrator’s
proceedings" is allowed under the legislation.
opposes cynical attempts to present such anti-democratic dictate as
something done to help students. Experience has shown that only those
solutions which come from the
workers themselves and which they fight to realize give rise to an
equilibrium which favours the interests of the society and not those of
Congratulations to All Those Who Fought
to Affirm the Rights of All!
Faculty at Cambrian College in Sudbury prepare to return to work,
November 21, 2017.
On Sunday, November 19, the Ontario Liberal
government and the provincial Conservatives passed Bill 178, the Colleges
The passage of this bill forced more than 12,000 full-time and
partial load faculty to give up their strike struggle
and return to the classroom. This action came three days after faculty
overwhelmingly rejected the College Employer Council's (CEC) last offer
by a vote of more than 86 per cent with a turnout of 95 per
of this vote were a complete repudiation of the position of the CEC
that the work withdrawal had no support of faculty but was
the result of union hotheads. The results of the vote clearly showed
that faculty were united in rejecting any attempt to dictate a
resolution which did not emerge through negotiation. The resounding No! vote also bolstered their
demands for job security, working conditions commensurate with the
important jobs they do, the right to freedom of association and
unionization for contract employees, and the right of faculty to a
meaningful role in academic decision-making. The Wynne Liberal
the CEC and its bully tactics, instead of making the CEC negotiate a
collective agreement that provided a framework for resolving the crisis
in Ontario colleges, forced faculty to end their strike struggle under
pain of fines of $1,000 per day for individuals and $25,000
per day for the union. Fines imposed on workers and their
organizations violate workers' right to withhold their labour, a right
guaranteed under natural law.
to blackmail and dictate under
difficult circumstances. That they were unable to force the employer to
negotiate and had back-to-work legislation imposed on them reveals that
Liberals and the PCs are unfit to govern. Through their strike actions
they have shown that there is a need to increase investments in college
education in Ontario to affirm the rights of education workers
and the right of youth to a modern education system. They have shown
CEC is totally incapable or unwilling to recognize either the needs and
interests of students or those of faculty. Faculty have exposed
the plans of the CEC to attack the human factor, the most important
factor in education, through increasing reliance on artificial
intelligence and robotics within two decades. They have vitalized the
struggle against the super-exploitation of part-time, sessional and
contract work. College students have seen that if faculty, who prepare
the youth of this province through education and training, cannot have
work with stability and rights, then what chance do the youth have?
College Student Alliance,
was unable to mobilize students against faculty. They put the entire
college system through five weeks of torture in order to impose their
will and that of the monopolies and the rich on the college community.
Students rejected the CEC line that faculty were greedy and were
putting students' lives at risk for faculty's own greedy aims and they
supported faculty's position that the struggle was for a college system
that is adequately funded, recognizes the rights of all the members of
the college community and that seeks to give them a guarantee.
Faculty return to work at Fleming College, November 20, 2017.
The CEC and the Ontario government never sought to
bargain with the faculty bargaining team in a way designed to resolve
the dispute and provide a framework for resolving the issues facing the
college system. The CEC took the position that faculty must limit their
demands to what is acceptable to the CEC and the Ontario government.
When faculty refused and persisted in raising demands that would deal
with the underlying problems in the college system, the CEC declared
that faculty demands were unaffordable and hence unreasonable. This,
despite the fact that Ontario only funds its colleges at 60 per
the Canadian average.
Despite faculty's constant appeals to the
CEC to return to the bargaining table, the CEC refused. Only after
three weeks did the CEC return to the table for a few days, and then
when due to union concessions, a deal was near, the CEC abruptly walked
out of the negotiations and insisted on a forced vote on its last
offer, extending the dispute for another ten days. Even after the
overwhelming NO vote, the CEC refused to bargain or to send the matter
to binding arbitration. Instead, Kathleen Wynne stepped in to order
faculty back to work and impose binding arbitration-mediation on the
parties. In doing so, she pulled the CEC's chestnuts out of the fire
without addressing any of the problems facing the Ontario college
Now that we have a return-to-work, college management is
refusing to consult with faculty and students to
determine a return-to-work protocol that serves the interests of all
members of the college system. Instead, they are insisting on a
back-to-work process that will complete the college year by the end of
next April. If the colleges can be forced into a schedule that is
completed by the end of April, they will save many tens of millions in
faculty salaries and student reimbursement.
One thing that should be noted is that the back-to-work
sleight-of-hand of the Ontario government has eliminated a task force
inquiry into the Ontario college system that would have reported within
six months, in May, about a month before the next provincial election.
This would have put the issue of the colleges four-square in the
of the election campaign. This task force was supposedly agreed upon in
bargaining in the few days before the CEC abruptly changed course,
withdrew from the bargaining table and applied for the forced vote.
Now, a task force inquiry depends upon the decision of the
mediator-arbitrator. It may come about or it may not. In any case, any
is almost certainly delayed to after the election, a development that
cannot but help the Wynne Liberals.
Faculty return to work at Mohawk College, November 20, 2017.
The actions of the CEC have cost the Ontario economy
hundreds of millions of dollars. Lost faculty salaries near $100
million and students are due compensation for their lives being
put on hold and the stress that is being imposed on them. The
government has been forced to offer compensation to students, albeit
much less than
what is reasonably due. Students have been offered tuition refunds if
they withdraw within two weeks. These actions smell of random motion as
the government seeks to stem the damage to its reputation and chances
of re-election next June. They fail to adequately compensate students
for the havoc that has been wreaked upon their lives.
The legislative debates on Bill 178 took just less than
two-and-a-half hours for all three readings. The Liberals and
Conservatives showed contempt for the colleges, students and faculty
and all working people in Ontario by refusing to permit any discussion
on the significance of the legislation and instead pushing it through
without debate. That less than half of their members even attended
reveals their callous disregard for the rights of working people and
the importance of ensuring that they are held to account. Showing their
cowardice and fear of the working people, neither Premier Kathleen
Wynne nor Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown even bothered
to speak at second or third reading!
Those Liberals and Conservatives who did speak blamed faculty for the
dispute and the NDP for allegedly delaying students' return to classes
by refusing to pass the back-to-work legislation in one day without any
examination of the proposed legislation. Neither addressed the
substantive issues facing the colleges which college faculty and
students had brought to everyone's attention.
Faculty return to Sault College, November 20, 2017.
Now the work is to make sure that this moral victory of
Ontario college faculty is transformed into a material victory. The
need is to take the struggle to fund Ontario colleges at the Canadian
level and the struggle to defend the rights of all through to
completion. Both the Liberals and the Conservatives are refusing to
recognize that Ontario
colleges suffer from chronic underfunding. Denial of rights stems from
this underfunding and the desire of the rich and the monopolies to have
a college system that serves their interests and not those of the youth
and people of Ontario.
Faculty are back-to-work but the struggle remains,
albeit in a new form. The upcoming Ontario election and the period
leading up to it provide faculty with an opportunity to advance their
struggle and that of the entire college community. Faculty and students
have put Ontario colleges and their need for renewal at the centre of
agenda of the province. They need to keep up this struggle.
In 2007, the Liberal government sought to keep the colleges off
the political agenda of the election; in 2017 they sought to
accomplish the same aim by manoeuvring that any task force into the
situation not report until after the next election. Ontario college
students cannot afford to allow another sleight-of-hand to prevent the
colleges being given their due regard in the election campaign. The
demand to fund Ontario colleges at a Canadian level and to recognize
the rights of all must be addressed.
Faculty and students must work to keep the issue of the
colleges in the public eye in the period leading up to the election and
during the election. Now is the time to discuss how students and
faculty can intervene in the election campaign to continue raising
Finance Minister Morneau's Company Takes
Control of Stelco Pensions
Parasites Feeding Off Workers' Pensions
The problem with Finance Minister Bill Morneau shaping
federal pension legislation to benefit his own company Morneau Shepell
is not just one of individual corruption. The problem goes deeper into
the parasitism and corruption generally of a system where private
companies systematically take money from workers' pensions, and
pensions for all at a Canadian standard are far from a reality.
Private companies should have nothing to do with
pensions. Pensions are not a productive enterprise. Pensions form part
of workers' claim on produced value for having sold their capacity to
work. Any private profit taken from pensions is similar to the corrupt
usury of payday loans where a portion of wages is stolen from workers.
The administration of
pensions, in whatever form they
may now exist and any investment of pension funds should be a public
service handled by a state enterprise with no user fee demanded or
expected. No money should be removed from the pension funds either as
profit or for administrative work.
The backward outlook of governments and the ruling
imperialist elite insists all economic activity should profit a
privileged few who own and control the economy. The governing outlook
is corrupt and backward and needs to be replaced with a modern
A modern outlook puts the actual producers and their
needs and well-being at the centre of the economy and in control of all
affairs that affect their work and life. The aim of the economy should
be to uphold the rights of all including their economic right to a
Canadian-standard livelihood from birth to passing away.
The modern economy is essentially social, reflecting
modern productive interconnected forces of industrial mass production
and one producing social class, the working class that works
cooperatively. The outlook and aim governing the economy should conform
to the social nature of the modern productive forces. A socialized
needs socialized relations of production where the actual producers are
in control of what they produce and its distribution. Class privilege
and parasitism such as that of private interests robbing pensions
should be banned.
Morneau Shepell pension workers are not state employees
working to provide a public service or deliver a social program. State
employees sell their capacity to work to the state agency, which then
uses their work-time to provide a public service or social program. A
public service on principle should be available to all regardless of
position or wealth and thus be without a user fee. This is not the case
when the governing outlook is anti-social and user fees are charged for
public services or worse when the public service is privatized such as
the case with Morneau Shepell and pension administration.
Workers sell their capacity
to work to Morneau's
private company. Morneau Shepell then uses their work-time to
administer pensions for a contracted user fee. The user fee paid to
Morneau Shepell for its employees to administer pensions exceeds the
amount the company pays workers for their capacity to work and any
equipment consumed in the process. The extra amount in the user fee
goes to the owners as parasitical profit and is totally without merit.
Needless to say the entire user fee drains money from the pension funds
and should be banned as a corrupt practice.
Workers engaged in the administration of pensions as a
public service and those employed with parasitical companies such as
Morneau Shepell are equally educated, skilled and capable. The added
layer of parasites who own and control the private companies and claim
corporate profit for the public service their workers provide is
unnecessary, parasitic and corrupt. Aside from the entire user fee
draining pension funds, the corporate profit goes into the coffers of
the rich such as Finance Minister Morneau who stuff it away in tax
havens or buy villas in France.
Administration of Stelco Pensions for
a Contracted User Fee
The Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSC)
issued a statement on November 15, announcing Morneau
Shepell Ltd. would take over the
administration of Stelco's five defined benefit pension plans effective
January 1, 2018. The FSC announcement follows word last month
that it had
contracted Morneau Shepell to administer the Registered Retirement Plan
of workers employed by Sears, which is currently winding up its
operations under the police powers of the Companies' Creditors
Arrangement Act (CCAA).
The appointment, for a
contracted user fee, of a private
administrator is another blow against Stelco's defined benefit pension
plans, which are now off the balance sheet and closed to new hires. The
destruction of Stelco workers' defined benefit pensions and other
post-employment benefits (OPEBs) or "legacy liabilities," as the rich
contemptuously call them, has been the aim of the ruling imperialist
elite in control of Stelco since 2003.
With courage and resolve, steelworkers led by
Local 1005 USW resisted the anti-social aim of those in control.
the police powers of the CCAA and the immense social wealth,
connections and continent-wide steel production of U.S. Steel, the
imperialists have now completed this particular battle and aim. To take
benefit pensions and OPEBs off Stelco's balance sheet and deny them to
new hires took the imperialists fourteen years, two rounds within CCAA,
repeated lock-outs of steelworkers, the wrecking of much of Stelco's
productive capacity including the blast furnace in Hamilton greatly
reducing the number of active workers, the transfer of steel
customers to U.S. Steel's U.S. mills, the removal of enormous social
wealth from Stelco through corrupt practices in particular following
the first bout in CCAA, and multiple changes of ownership and control.
The elimination of defined benefit pensions and OPEBs
at Stelco for new hires is part of the ongoing destruction of these
programs throughout the private sectors of the economy. This lowers the
standard of living of the Canadian working class concentrating even
greater social wealth that workers produce in the hands of the rich.
imperialist elite are now working to arrange the legalized elimination
defined benefit pensions in the public sector with the Trudeau/Morneau
anti-social Bill C-27. The defined benefit pensions of Canada Post
workers appear to be the first slated for destruction but postal
workers are determined to defend them in a protracted battle.
With the addition of
Stelco's five pension plans,
Morneau Shepell expands its empire. Finance Minister Morneau's company
now administers for lucrative user fees 40 per cent of the pension
funds of workers employed in the largest 500 companies in Canada.
Instead of administering the Stelco pensions as a
public service without user fees including company profit deducted from
the existing pension funds, the Ontario government through its
Financial Services Commission has acted as an agent for the expansion
of the Morneau private empire. The CCAA, FSC and federal pension
as Bill C-27 are weapons used to legalize the theft of what belongs to
workers by right.
Steelworkers note that as per usual with these sorts of
anti-worker announcements, the ruling imperialist elite trot out their
experts in the universities, think tanks and media to mystify and
prettify the pay-the-rich schemes and attacks on workers. Ignoring the
fact that the new owners of Stelco have effectively eliminated defined
pensions and OPEBs as a social responsibility of the company, a
Hamilton professor deflected attention towards the notion that existing
Stelco pension plans are in better shape than those of the Sears
workers. "It doesn't mean Stelco pensions won't be reduced at some
point in the future," the accommodated professor is quoted as saying in
media. "It's too early to know what kind of hair cut might be required
because we don't know how much money might come in," the professor of
the rich added before going on to praise fellow members of the ruling
imperialist elite, in this case the owners of Morneau Shepell and
Finance Minister Morneau, as running "the gold standard" of a
pension service for fat user fees and private gain.
Hamilton steelworkers in
summing up their experience,
say the direction of the governments in general is anti-worker and
corrupt with the use of CCAA, legislation and other weapons. In
particular, the corrupt stench of the Stelco case wafts from Ottawa, to
Toronto and Hamilton, as Liberal governments federally and in Ontario
profitable public service contracts to a Liberal-connected pension
administration company whose principal owner is Trudeau's Finance
Instead of defending the pensions and benefits workers
now have and extending defined benefit Canadian standard pensions to
all, the governments are sinking deeper into the cesspool of
corruption, class privilege and the denial of workers' rights. They are
turning pensions into avenues of profit for private interests and
leaving millions of
retired workers to fend for themselves. The entire direction is wrong.
The working class has the social responsibility to organize itself and
fight to put an end to this direction and forge a new pro-social
direction for the economy and country.
Striking Quebec Metallurgical
Workers Step Up National
and International Campaign
Step Up Support for CEZinc Workers Fighting
for Their Dignity and Rights!
The 371 workers at CEZinc in
Salaberry-de-Valleyfield began the tenth month of their strike in
defence of their rights and their dignity as workers on
November 12. They are continuing to reject the unacceptable
concessions demanded by the employer, Noranda Income Fund-Glencore.
The concessions relate in particular to the pension
fund. CEZinc wants to introduce a system of gradually shifting wages to
contributions to the pension plan. The company also proposes to reduce
the value it puts into the pension plan by the same amount. This would
directly lower workers' wages while increasing the corporate claim on
new value workers produce. CEZinc also wants an increase in the age at
which workers can take early retirement. Early retirement is a
necessity for these plant workers because they work in an environment
full of highly toxic products.
CEZinc workers steadfastly reject these concessions.
They do so out of respect for the workers who came before them who
fought for the pension plan and their working conditions, in a spirit
of dignity for the work they do under very difficult conditions, and
because such concessions would begin a downward slide leading to other
for workers to give up what they have achieved. On the picket lines,
workers carry signs that say, among other things, "We will not back
On the other hand what is the motivation of the Noranda
Income Fund and the mining giant Glencore, which as the owner
of 25 per cent of the fund is in a controlling position, as well
the exclusive supplier of zinc concentrate input for the refinery and
the exclusive buyer of the zinc metal output? To enrich themselves even
when they are already drowning in wealth, by lowering the conditions of
the workers? The manipulation of the price of zinc in the context of
collusion and rivalry between monopolies for market control and
empire-building? An insider deal and accounting manoeuvres within the
Glencore Income Fund? All of the above! Nothing pro-social or
pro-worker in there! Nothing that has anything to do with solving the
problems of the mining sector! Just the narrow private interest that is
imposed on the workers and the community despite all the damage it
The workers are continuing their just strike and are
rightly asking for increased support from other workers and the
community, in Quebec, Canada and around the world.
In this regard, they undertook the "Adopt a Striker"
campaign, whereby steelworker locals across Canada are asked to make a
recurring donation to a striker, in the amount and frequency of their
choice, no matter how long the strike lasts.
They are asking workers and their allies to send a
message to the executives of the Noranda Income Fund and Glencore
expressing their support for the strikers.
The message reads as follows:
I am writing to show my
support for the 371
CEZinc workers who have been on strike since last February in
On October 2, they
rejected the latest employer
offers, which were very similar to those that led to the strike in
February, in a proportion of 97 per cent. The result is clear: the
concessions requested are unacceptable.
The demands of the employer
reflect a lack of
appreciation for employees and the difficult conditions of their work.
You occupy a key position in
the company. In doing so,
you are partly responsible for what 371 families are going through
today. And beyond the unionized, it is the entire community of
Salaberry-de-Valleyfield that suffers. We call upon you to play a
positive role in resolving this conflict. The strikers are strong, so
is the solidarity.
Trade unionists from all over Quebec and around the world support them.
They will not go on their knees.
But the longer this strike
lasts, the more difficult
the return will be and this risks jeopardizing labour relations when
they are back. It is not too late to negotiate in good faith a fair
contract for the benefit of all.
Thank you for your attention.
A supporter of USW
In addition, the United Steelworkers launched a
worldwide campaign against Glencore to help settle the strike in a way
that is acceptable to the workers. Representatives of CEZinc strikers
took part in actions in Toronto, Switzerland, Australia and Colombia to
gather support for their struggle and express their support for other
the world who are facing the attacks of the Glencore global monopoly
against their rights.
On November 9, the Executive Committee of
IndustriALL, the international union that according to its website
represents 50 million workers in the mining, energy and
manufacturing sectors in 140 countries, endorsed the global
campaign against Glencore.
In its press release, the Executive Committee mentions
that Glencore workers in at least three countries are waging a bitter
fight against the company's attacks. Besides the
Salaberry-de-Valleyfield strike, there is a lockout that has been going
on since last May of workers at the Oaky North mine in Australia
who are fighting against the
company's attempt to replace them with sub-contractors. In South
Africa, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa is waging a
campaign for a living wage at Glencore operations and for nation-wide
collective bargaining and harmonization of conditions at all Glencore
operations. The company has recently denied union officials access
to its sites. It employs 27,000 workers in South Africa.
The struggle of the CEZinc workers continues and
deserves everyone's support.
All Out to Support the Striking CEZinc
Glencore Fights for Its Narrow Private Monopoly Interest at the Expense
of the Workers and of All!
CEZinc Workers Are Fighting for Their Rights as Producers of the Social
and Against the Lowering of the Standard
of Living of All!
1. To sign the message of support for CEZinc
strikers, click here
Propaganda About Labour Shortage in the
Truckers Discuss the Necessity to Organize to
Defend Their Rights Under All Conditions
A big illusion is being promoted within the movement
for the defence of the rights of truckers in Quebec and Canada. The
major employers and media are talking a lot about a labour shortage
that allegedly exists in the sector. This labour shortage, according to
them, will push the big transportation companies to improve the working
conditions of truckers, as an imbalance between supply and demand will
favour truckers. In such a concocted scenario, the organized fight of
the truckers in defence of their rights, their dignity and for a new
pro-social direction for their industry is not necessary.
The illusion being spread to paralyze truckers is all
the more dangerous because not only does it seek to make truck drivers
believe that changes will occur naturally through supply and demand but
that the ruling circles, the people in control at all levels who are
responsible for the recurring crises and problems, will magically
outlook and ways on their own. The fairy tale is that the
conditions of a labour shortage will cause the big companies to adapt
and find new solutions that will benefit the truckers, without the
truck drivers having to lift a finger to organize and wage actions with
analysis to defend their rights.
On the contrary, in the midst of major technological
transformations and upheavals in all transportation industries and the
building of new major trade corridors and transport routes, the
situation requires great vigilance and foresight. The need for
independent organizing and thinking of truckers has never been greater
or more urgent. The task to
defend their rights belongs to the truckers themselves. No remedy will
come from the gods of plague.
Any shortage of workers that may occur in
transportation, as elsewhere in the economy, has never slowed the
deterioration of the working conditions of truckers and attacks on
their rights. Any imbalance between supply and demand whether real or
imagined has never forced the ruling circles of industry to adapt their
behaviour in favour of
the interests of the working class. They always find ways to favour
their own interests. The preoccupation of those in control is always
how to make conditions favourable for their own narrow private
Quebec truckers convoy arrives at the Quebec National Assembly,
November 19, 2016.
Some may point to specific or temporary improvements
but these have always been at the insistence of truckers. Overall, the
basic situation of truck drivers has recently deteriorated
dramatically. The concrete conditions have propelled truckers to demand
an immediate increase in wages and improvement of working conditions,
effective recognition of their work as a trade of national importance
to ensure their safety and that of new drivers who are joining
the industry and the public.
Example of Intermodal Truckers in the United
The case of the 100,000 intermodal
truckers in the United States is indicative of the kind of workforce
that is being created in trucking. USA Today recently had a
report on the working conditions that prevail for a vast majority of
intermodal truck drivers assigned to container transport at the Ports
of Los Angeles and
Long Beach. The article
reveals that immigrant drivers are forced to sign exclusive contracts
with certain container transport companies. The contracts decide all
aspects of what the truckers life is to be, as if they are slaves. Many
drivers are forced into debt to purchase an expensive truck that meets
California's environmental requirements. The transport companies then
use the truckers' debts as a means to coerce and lock them into
arrangements that leave them totally powerless with regard to their
working and living conditions. If they leave the job, they lose their
trucks and livelihood but not their debt. If they are sick or absent
fatigue or family reasons, they may be fired and likewise lose their
Many drivers are forced to pay for things
that are usually the responsibility of employers and end up working
without any claim on the value they produce. At times, they even owe
money to their employer, despite working days of 15 or more hours.
These working conditions result in hundreds of work accidents. More
than 40 drivers have died in recent years as a result of work
accidents in these two ports alone. These conditions are reminiscent of
the company steel and coal towns in the song "Sixteen Tons" where
workers had to buy everything from the company store, effectively
returning their entire wages and more to their employer. Their wages
were often paid in company vouchers redeemable only at the company
store. Only determined trade union organizing and battles ended these
inhumane anti-worker practices.
Here is an interesting quote from the USA Today
"Prominent civil rights leader Julian Bond once called
California port truckers the new black tenant farmers of the
post-civil-war South. Sharecroppers from that era rented farmland to
make their living and regularly fell into debt to their landlords.
Widespread predatory practices made it nearly impossible for the
farmers to climb out."
However, intimidation and a culture of fear have not
prevented more than 1,000 California drivers from raising formal
complaints about their suffering since 2010. The struggle of these
intermodal truckers, who have decided to speak openly about the
conditions they face, finally created a breach in public opinion. The
their conditions compelled workers in other sectors of the economy and
public opinion generally to force certain big distribution monopolies
such as Costco, Walmart and Target to cancel some deliveries of
containers from the network of transport companies in question. The
battle of the truckers and their resolve to break the silence on their
conditions has forced their situation into the open where now even the
mass media cannot deny that such backward conditions exist and must be
Only the organized resistance of the truckers will
decide if these inhumane practices will be overcome throughout Canada
and the United States. Transport workers must continue to break the
silence themselves on the conditions in their own sectors and to lead
their own battles. This struggle for their rights and to humanize their
unites with all others fighting for their rights. A determined
organized struggle can halt the downward spiral of working conditions
and create a workforce that does the work but is proud and determined
to do so only when their rights are recognized and respected within a
Washington DC picket by U.S. truckers outside the Department of
Transport in October 2017 as
part of national days of action by truckers in defence of their rights.
Those who propagate illusions within the truckers'
movement that a shortage of workers and a compliant ownership will
change conditions for the better want to paralyze truckers and stop
them from organizing and waging battles in defence of their rights. Do
not forget that one constant remains: workers can only rely on
themselves within their collectives to defend their rights.
The ruling circles will generate panic regardless
whether a shortage of workers exists or not. Their widespread calls to
bring in workers from abroad to expand the pool of workers reveals only
that they hate what they call "full employment" because it denies
them one weapon in their class war to exploit the working class.
nauseam repetition of the propaganda about a labour shortage that
allegedly constrains economic growth has gone hand in hand with the
building of an enslaving system of intermodal truckers in California
that only now is being exposed. And we truckers should count on these
people to find solutions to our problems and defend our rights?
Many truckers refuse to fall into the trap of
anti-consciousness that has been set to ensnare and paralyze us. We
need to build and strengthen our independent organizations and use them
to develop our own thinking, reasoning, analysis and struggles, and
move steadily towards a new direction for the industry and thereby
contribute as a
contingent of the working class to opening the doors to the progress of
1. For truckers, this so-called labour shortage is a
real insult and double-edged sword. When no shortage of workers is said
to exist, increased competition for the available jobs forces down
wages and working conditions. Truckers find themselves forced to work
harder without care for their personal well-being or risk losing their
employment. Then, during a "shortage," carriers increase pressure on
truckers to work harder and faster because of the "shortage." One way
or another, the truckers pay the price unless they organize and resist.
2. Brett Murphy, "Forced
nothing." USA Today, June 16, 2017.
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