December 7, 2017
Stop State-Organized Abuse of Our
Sick and Injured Workers!
Uphold the Dignity of Labour --
Defend the Rights of All!
on December 11 to Defend the Rights and Dignity
of Injured and Sick Workers
• Uphold the Dignity of Labour -- Defend the
Rights of All! - K.C. Adams
No to Violating the
Right to Conscience!
• Four Ontario Faculty Suspended for Refusing
to Submit to College Dictate
• Violating Teachers' Right to Conscience Is
Unacceptable - Enver Villamizar
• Suspensions at La Cité Show Why
"Academic Freedom" Matters - Ontario Public Service Employee's
Women Still on the Agenda
• Rights Are Not Negotiable!
• Trudeau Government's Self-Serving Refusal to
Reverse Harper Era Anti-Union Anti-Women Legislation -
Quebec Paramedics Step
Up Their Struggle for
Conditions Commensurate with the Important Work They Do
• Paramedics Block Access to Quebec Ministry of
Demand Negotiations Be Unblocked - Pierre Chénier
Stop State-Organized Abuse of Our Sick
and Injured Workers!
Uphold the Dignity of Labour --
Defend the Rights of All!
September 11, coinciding with the opening of Ontario
legislature, Ontario Network of Injured Workers' Groups launches
province-wide campaign defending workers' right to compensation.
How society treats injured and ill workers is an
important indication of being modern and civilized. All workers must
know that if injured at work or when they become ill, they and their
families will be treated with respect and dignity. They must know and
see in practice that upon injury or illness their standard of living
will be maintained and guaranteed without question or aggravation. They
must know and see and have the peace of mind that trained professionals
will provide everything to assist them to return to good health,
and if that is not possible to guarantee a Canadian standard of living
with alternative options for a fulfilling life. If the worst occurs and
a worker is killed at work or suffers death through occupational
illness, the state through social programs must assume its
responsibility and ensure a worker's family will retain its standard of
Sadly under the current
workers' compensation regimes across the country, this is not the case.
Workers are often subjected to state-organized nightmarish bureaucratic
procedures and suspicions that hinder and do not help their recovery
and often lead to greater misery and anguish. The anti-worker practices
of the workers' compensation
regimes condemn Canada as backward and uncivilized and not a worthy
member of the modern and cultured family of nations.
Proof of how little the Canadian state regards and
treats its wounded and ill workers is found in the constant necessity
of injured workers' groups to agitate for improvements to the existing
regimes. For injured workers to be forced to agitate for civilized
treatment because the current regime refuses to treat the working class
with the dignity
and respect it deserves, is a serious indictment of Canada and its
prevailing relations of production and state. It is also a great credit
to the Canadian working class that in spite of this ill treatment that
justice for injured workers is more and more a rallying cry of the
workers across Canada.
Workers produce the value our society and people
require for their well-being and existence. Why does the state treat
the actual producers with such contempt and condemn them as a cost
rather than honour them as the producers of all value? What drives the
ruling elite to spit on the working people who create the social and
conditions for society and the economy to exist? The answer can only be
that the ruling imperialist elite view injured workers as a drain on
the social wealth they crave, as disposable wage-slaves easily replaced
from the wage-slave labour market.
The anti-worker contempt of those who own and control
the economy originates in class privilege and their belief that workers
when seriously injured, sick or old should simply be replaced and
discarded as useless scrap machines. Once workers are injured, sick or
too old to work, the ruling elite look to replace them from the
labour market and eliminate any claims of the injured, sick or retired
workers on the value the working class produces.
This backwardness and inhumanity stems from the social
being and outlook of those who own and control the socialized economy,
those who do not do the actual work that produces value yet profit from
the work of those who do. Their contempt for workers
originates in class privilege and lies at the root of the constant
struggle of injured workers for their rights and to live in dignity.
The control of those who do not work yet profit from the work of the
working class is the root reason workplaces are not humanized and
unsafe conditions are allowed to persist. To do otherwise and improve
conditions and care for the sick, injured and retired would drain
from the coffers of the rich. The anti-social anti-worker outlook of
the ruling elite must be confronted and opposed on every issue and
condemned and eventually overturned as the ruling outlook in society.
The working class through organized actions with
analysis is determined to make its modern and civilized pro-social
outlook dominant in society. In the here and now this means fighting
for increased investments in social programs such as those to care for
sick and injured workers. It means workers must condemn and banish from
collective consciousness the anti-social outlook of the ruling elite
that holds the actual producers, the working class, in contempt. The
current state-organized system of abusing our sick and injured workers
declares the ruling elite unfit to rule.
With a pro-social outlook in command of the economy and
state, workers would have the confidence that if an accident or illness
happens to them, social programs would jump into action to ensure their
quick recovery, and that their standard of living and that of their
would not suffer. Under a pro-social regime, workers would be confident
that if injured, everything would be done to guarantee their well-being
and security, and that assistance would be forthcoming to ensure they
are able to continue living a productive and full life at whatever
level they are capable of managing.
Workers are born to society and produce the value the
people and society require for their existence. Workers are modern
society's human foundation. They need and deserve society's complete
respect and assistance without reserve under all circumstances.
Stop the State-Organized Abuse of Our
Sick and Injured Workers!
Increase Investments in Social Programs!
Join the Working Class Movement to Build Workers' Independent
Fighting for a New Pro-Social Direction for the Economy.
No to Violating the Right to Conscience!
Four Ontario Faculty Suspended for Refusing
Submit to College Dictate
Flying squad of students and faculty, November 28, 2017, after their
silent protest at the College
Employer Council board meeting in Toronto.
La Cité Collégiale, the French language
community college in Ottawa, has suspended four faculty members without
pay until January 26 for "insubordination." The three full-time
and one partial-load faculty who teach in the college's Respiratory
Technology program refused to sign a contract with the college
guaranteeing that all the
necessary competencies required of the program's students would be met
with three weeks less of instruction so their school year could still
finish by the end of April. The suspended full-time teachers make up
the entire full-time faculty complement of the program.
Respiratory therapists help people suffering from
pulmonary issues, including procedures during trauma care, anaesthesia
and life support. Respiratory therapy is recognized under the Regulated
Act. Graduates of the program work in hospital
emergency rooms and critical care units. Respiratory therapists use
mechanical ventilators and other life-support equipment. They also help
diagnose and treat heart and lung disease.
The four faculty members felt they could not sign the
guarantee and instead submitted two of their own proposals for
completing the program that entailed extending the school year until
the end of May. Both proposals were not accepted by the college. There
mechanisms in the existing collective agreement, which continues in
place until a
new one is imposed by a provincially-mandated arbitrator, for disputes
over changes made to workloads by the employer to be settled by an
arbitrator. The college has instead resorted to force and
violation of the faculty members' right to conscience.
La Cité has now brought in substitute
instructors to take over the classes of the four suspended respiratory
therapy faculty, creating further stress for the students. They are
five weeks and one day of instruction as a result of the refusal of the
College Employer Council to negotiate and the refusal of the Ontario
government to invest in
college education which caused the strike. This specific college wanted
the fall semester completed in a condensed fashion by eliminating one
week of the Christmas break and the spring reading week, leaving
students with three weeks less of instruction instead of five. The
college claimed there were measures which students could use to catch
such as tutors or open lab time; however this ignored the opinions of
who were expected to teach the course and uphold their duty to society.
There is a provision that a student can graduate "with
restrictions" noted on their license. This allows them to practice
except in that specific area which they have not completed. This is not
an ideal outcome for the students. The administration is using the
faculty members' concerns for their students to pressure them to put in
additional work time in order for students to graduate without
restrictions. The faculty who were suspended could not agree to such a
demand, calling it unethical.
No doubt the college wants to avoid lawsuits or other
actions by students as a result of their loss of education. However,
instead of resolving matters in a manner than upholds the rights of all
and the integrity of public education and health care, La Cité
Collégiale administration has resorted to force and the
suppression of rights which attacks
these individuals, their students and harms the society as a whole.
By refusing to accept what the college administrators
wanted to impose and instead making their own proposals for how to
complete the program in a compressed fashion, the faculty upheld the
integrity of their profession, the students’ right to education and the
right to health care of those who rely on the professionals educated
and trained in the college system for their well-being.
addition to the suspensions La Cité demanded that at
least one faculty member remove a Twitter post containing a link to an Ottawa Citizen
story about their suspension.
La Cité has accused union members of "tarnishing" the reputation
of the college.
partial-load, spoke on CBC radio during the strike, explaining the
problems faced by students as well as part-time contract faculty
because of the unstable nature of their jobs.
No doubt her suspension could also be
retaliatory in nature for daring to speak out publicly on that issue.
Whatever the case, such persecution will not be accepted by the working
people of Ontario!
The suspensions and attacks on freedom of speech are
unacceptable and must be reversed. The college's actions were no doubt
calculated and meant to send a message to faculty across the province
facing the same demands to submit or else. Mona Chevalier, President of
the Cité Collégiale faculty union, called the college's
actions "a clear
abuse of power" and said, "This is creating terror in any kind of
teacher who wants to assert their professional beliefs. And not just
their beliefs -- their ethics. We're not going to let that go."
The fact that these faculty refused to submit shows
that the dictate is illegitimate and goes against their right to
conscience as teachers and professionals, the most important block to
the destruction of public education to make it better serve the rich.
OPSEU informs that it is organizing a province-wide action to support
the suspended faculty,
including with financial support.
Workers' Forum calls on everyone who is in a
position to do so to express opposition to this blatant use of dictate
and to uphold the right of faculty to defend the integrity of their
disciplines and students to the highest level of education the society
provide. The Wynne government must be held to account for this state of
they have resorted to dictate giving a green light to the colleges to
do the same.
Reinstate the Suspended College Faculty!
the Criminalization of Dissent! No Means No!
1. Joanne Laucius, "College
for 'insubordination,'" Ottawa Citizen, November 28, 2017.
2. Interview, Ottawa Morning, CBC
Radio, October 20, 2017.
Violating Teachers' Right to Conscience
The suspension of faculty for refusing to submit to La
Cité Collégiale's dictate cannot be accepted. How can
faculty uphold well-established professional standards that are
supposed to defend the public interest when their right to conscience
is so blatantly violated? How can standards be legitimate and uphold
established as norms and expectations to this point, without affirming
the right to conscience of those who are supposed to uphold them and
judge whether they have been met or not? How can those who have not
practiced in a field dictate to those who are knowledgeable about the
skills, techniques and knowledge required for licensing in that field,
simply because they are the employer? How can any government which
claims to care about the public and students create such a state of
The government imposed back-to-work legislation on the
striking college faculty and made illegal any form of strike, or even
counseling one, under the penalty of huge fines. This now means
individual or collective action by faculty such as working to rule to
oppose such unacceptable violations of the right to conscience and
ethics has been made illegal. Meanwhile the legislation also outlawed
lock-outs by the employer. Yet four faculty have essentially been
locked out by college management and replaced with what amounts to
scabs. Such a blatant disregard for even the notion of "fairness," that
calls for everyone to play by the same rules, shows the content of the
Liberals' "fairness" when the aim is to attack workers' rights.
Faculty cannot accept measures which attack the
integrity of their disciplines and the important role they play in
preparing their students to uphold high professional standards. If they
did then they would be in contempt of their professions and the
important work they do. There is also the threat of the loss of their
licenses or other penalties.
Something has to give and it cannot be those who are upholding
professional ethics and rights. The working people and general public
are in no mood to accept fundamental violations of the freedom of
speech and freedom of conscience in general, but in particular of
The aim of the Wynne government's back-to-work
legislation was to suppress the college faculty's demands and their
rights by forcing them into an arbitration system in which an
arbitrator, constrained by government parameters, can dictate an
without the consent of those who will be forced to work under the new
provisions. That faculty refuse to submit to the college's demands,
go against their professional ethics, shows that dictate only makes
matters worse. Now the students' education is in further jeopardy,
faculty have been disrespected in the most egregious manner and any
confidence that exists in the public health care system is being
What will happen to students who oppose this dictate of
the college administration and stand with their professors and refuse
to go along with the college's plan? Will they be threatened with
expulsion or have their tuition stolen based on claims that they had
the choice to withdraw from the semester and obtain a refund but didn't
December 5 deadline for doing so? Are they supposed to accept
whatever the college wants, regardless of how it compromises their
education and the important role they want to play in society? This is
The Wynne government and the colleges must be blocked
from using force in this manner to resolve differences of opinion.
Colleges cannot be permitted to suspend or fire
faculty for upholding the integrity of their profession, especially
when for all intents and purposes, it is a means of locking out faculty
bringing in scab labour. The opinions of those who deliver the
education and are responsible for the outcomes must be respected, as
well as those of the students. The government and the colleges must be
forced to back down and end their violation of the right of those who
provide public services to say No!
to working conditions that are
Negotiate, Don't Dictate!
Uphold the Right to
Conscience and Freedom of Speech!
Suspensions at La Cité Show Why
"Academic Freedom" Matters
Faculty at La Cité College on picket line, October 30, 2017.
The suspension of four college professors at La
Cité Collégiale in Ottawa shows why college faculty must
have the freedom, and the authority, to make decisions on academic
matters, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) says.
"La Cité has suspended four OPSEU members for
standing up for the integrity of their profession," said JP Hornick,
chair of the college faculty bargaining team for OPSEU. "College
administration wants faculty to say that students possess the full
range of skills related to the practice of respiratory therapy whether
they do or not.
"This just shows what faculty have been saying all
along: college administrators are making decisions about academic
programs that they are not qualified to make," she said. "In this case,
administrators are putting both students and the public in danger."
The union has proposed that the College of Respiratory
Therapists of Ontario be brought in to assist with the matter.
The return to work of over 12,000 faculty after a
five-week strike that ended November 20 has been plagued by
problems that are interfering with the colleges' efforts to save
students' semesters, Hornick said. Bill 178, the back-to-work
legislation passed November 19, requires the parties to abide by
faculty collective agreement, but the colleges are refusing to do so.
"Unless the colleges begin issuing new contracts and
Standard Workload Forms to faculty to make up the lost time, we are
heading for a crisis very soon," she said. "Faculty are working hard to
save the semester, but we will not do it in a way that violates our
collective agreement or the law."
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas called the
colleges' antics "classic union busting."
"The problems at La Cité, which is notoriously
anti-union, are just the tip of the iceberg," he said. "The colleges
are engaging in a centrally coordinated strategy that appears designed
to bust the union even if it means sacrificing education quality.
That's why I'm calling on Advanced Education Minister Deb Matthews to
direct the colleges to
obey Bill 178 and start cooperating with faculty to save the
Discrimination Against Women Still on the
Rights Are Not Negotiable!
In Canada, the vicious anti-social
offensive, waged by
governments at all levels in their drive to make the monopolies
competitive on global markets is worsening the condition of
women. Claims that women have achieved equality are put to shame
so long as women continue to be considered "fair game." Society
sanctions impoverishment, exploitation and oppression of women,
and women dominate the sectors which are most impoverished,
exploited and oppressed. Given these facts the government's claim that
it can defend women's equality through the promotion of female
entrepreneurship rings hollow indeed. Governments which pay the rich
cut funding to social programs are directly responsible for the
abuse and humiliation of women and the brutality against them.
Governments and the financial
oligarchy they serve stubbornly refuse to even recognize that women
have rights by
virtue of being both human and women, responsible for production in
society and its reproduction, let alone provide these rights with a
guarantee. This shows that they have
become a block to progress. They are dead set against renewal
based on the recognition of the rights of all and are not fit to
A modern approach will have as its starting point that
have rights by virtue of being human, and that women have rights
because of their womanhood. It will establish once and for all
that it is illegal to discriminate against women and hold
governments and the monopolies to account by ensuring that women
have redress and discrimination is actually punished.
Trudeau Government's Self-Serving Refusal
Harper Era Anti-Union
In June 2016, the Public Service Alliance of Canada
(PSAC) reached a negotiated settlement with Statistical Survey
Operations (SSO) to settle a pay equity dispute involving
between 20,000 and 25,000 current and former Interviewers and
Senior Interviewers who worked at Statistics Canada or
SSO between 1985 and 2013. The purpose of the pay equity
settlement was to remedy a long-standing discriminatory wage rate
for workers in this female-dominated workforce.
PSAC had originally filed a
complaint with the
Canadian Human Rights
Commission on behalf of members employed with seven separate
employers, including SSO, in 2002. The complaint was finally
referred to the Public Service Labour Relations and Employment
Board for a hearing in 2014. When the payments were finally made,
PSAC learned that the settlement calculations failed to include
paid leave, overtime rates, full compensation for designated
paid holidays, and other forms of compensation.
Many workers filed appeals, but SSO has refused to
the issue and make the payments whole. As a result, PSAC
announced that it will now take the dispute to an independent
third party for a final and binding decision. "Our members and
former members have waited long enough for their discriminatory
wage rate to be adjusted and deserve to be appropriately
compensated," the PSAC statement says.
Binding arbitration was the only avenue open to PSAC to remedy the
situation as legislation passed by the Harper government in 2009, which
has been kept in place, removed the right of public sector unions to
file complaints for pay equity with the Canadian Human Rights
Commission. The Public Sector
Equitable Compensation Act bans unions from assisting workers
a pay equity complaint with the threat of a $50,000 fine. The
also includes a condition that "market factors" be considered in
complaints concerning pay equity. In
this way the legislation legalizes existing discrimination by
considering normal and acceptable those "market factors" that already
against women. In Canada, women earn on average about 70 per cent
of the wages of men. The legislation makes the low wages of women
throughout the economy, which are the result of discrimination, yet
another backward justification to pay low wages to women in the federal
The issue of pay equity has been addressed with all
kinds of promises and inquiries from governments and parties yet it
remains a policy objective in which the victims of injustice are forced
to fend for themselves. In 2000, the federal government of Jean
Chrétien appointed an expert Pay Equity Task Force, which issued
its report in 2004. The Pay Equity Task Force recognized the importance
of pay equity as a fundamental human right. It recommended a new pay
equity law which would require all employers in the federal
jurisdiction, both public and private, to examine their compensation
systems to ensure pay equity. All employees would be included:
full-time, part-time, temporary, casual and contract. It was claimed
that this is particularly important since women face an added barrier
to Canadian-standard wages and benefits as they are employed on a
widespread basis in part-time, casual and contract work. The Task Force
also recommended that national minority women, Indigenous workers, and
workers with disabilities be covered by the pay equity law.
The Trudeau government has stated that it will bring in
new pay equity legislation by the end of 2018. Then Employment Minister
MaryAnn Mihychuk said in October 2016 that the legislation will take a
"proactive" approach to pay equity, focused on helping employers comply
with the law rather than forcing employees to lodge complaints about
discriminatory wages. Mihychuk said forcing workers to file complaints
and go to court to get equal pay had proven to be "burdensome, costly
and unfair to workers." But to date the government has not even
repealed the legislation enacted by the Harper government that bars
unions from assisting members who pursue complaints through human
rights tribunals. Whether the government will keep its promise to enact
legislation or not is a diversion. The Trudeau Liberal government has
been swift to make a big show about gender balance in the Cabinet
and has even put forward legislation encouraging corporate boards
to include more women. It travels the world invoking women’s rights as
its mantra. Meanwhile, its refusal to overturn such blatantly
anti-union and anti-worker legislation aimed at blocking women from
organizing through their unions to affirm their rights is very telling.
By affirming that rights are not negotiable the Trudeau Liberals can be
held to account for their promises and policy objectives that do not
match their actions.
Quebec Paramedics Step Up Their Struggle
Conditions Commensurate with the Important Work They Do
Paramedics Block Access to Quebec Ministry of
Health to Demand Negotiations Be Unblocked
Quebec paramedics are trying to negotiate
collective agreements and have been on a general strike since
March 2017. Infuriated by the deadlock in their negotiations
caused by the Quebec government, over 300 paramedics demonstrated
in front of the Ministry of Health in Quebec City. They blocked
entrances to the building with tire barricades and cordoned off the
entire perimeter with caution tape reading "Lutte syndicale" (Union
fight) from early morning until about 2:00 pm Tuesday,
November 21. Only the entrance to the daycare was left open.
Ministry employees were sent home and the building was closed for the
day. Many people supported the action, including drivers who honked
their horns. Jean Gagnon, representative of the pre-hospital sector of
the Federation of Health and Social Services-Confederation of National
Trade Unions (FSSS-CSN), told Workers'
that the action was intended "to convey to the
Minister of Health that there is a block in negotiations, so this is
what happens when you block things. We want to send the message to the
Minister to unblock negotiations in the pre-hospital sector to conclude
the negotiations as soon as possible and to our satisfaction."
Quebec paramedics' collective agreements expired on
March 31, 2015. They are asking for an improvement in their pension
plan, wage increases comparable to what public sector workers obtained
in 2015, a reduction in their workload that has become untenable over
the years, and the abolition of on-call schedules in remote regions
that require them to be on call 24/7 for two weeks and then off for two
weeks. Paramedics have long been fighting for recognition of their
profession and the invaluable emergency services they provide to
society. The people have the greatest respect for them but the
government does not. It denies them the conditions that correspond to
the work they do and is trying to take away improvements in the sector
that paramedics have achieved through their united and organized
struggle in recent decades. The government calls the work of the
paramedics an essential service and has designated them as such in
legislation, not for the purpose of recognizing the rights that come
from the role they play, but to refuse to negotiate with them and deny
their demands, dragging things out for over two years.
The participants in the November 21 action were members
of the pre-hospital section of the FSSS-CSN. Last July they reached a
tentative agreement with one of their employers, Urgences Santé,
in Montreal and Laval. This agreement, however, cannot be ratified and
implemented until the pension plan included in the agreement is adopted
by the other FSSS-CSN paramedics and the members of the other unions in
the sector. The pension plan covers all of the workers in this sector,
but the arrangements for Quebec-wide negotiations have been
deliberately sabotaged by the government. There has been a negotiating
table for all of Quebec in place since 1984 at which things like
pensions, insurance and wages were negotiated. In April 2016, Health
Minister Gaétan Barrette unilaterally abolished this negotiating
table at the ministry level and put these negotiations in the hands of
the individual companies delivering paramedic services. It did this
despite the fact that the state fully finances all paramedic employers,
from Urgence Santé, which is public, to the Corporation des
services ambulanciers du Québec (CSAQ) which represents the vast
majority of paramedic companies outside Montreal and Laval (private
companies, non-profit organizations and cooperatives).
In a most hypocritical and irresponsible way, the
to employers in the sector as independent businesses that negotiate
with workers independently. The Minister says he entrusted them with
negotiating wages, but then he imposed service contracts on them which
included budget cutbacks of $121 million over three years. This is
tantamount to a direct order to attack the wages and working conditions
of the workers. Not only is the government trying to put the blame for
any deterioration in the working conditions on these bodies, but it is
now facing a legal challenge by the CSAQ, which challenges the legality
of these contracts. Meanwhile, there are no negotiations on wages at
Speaking with Workers'
Forum, Jean Gagnon explained how reaching a Quebec-wide
tentative agreement has been blocked: "Bargaining is not over
everywhere in the sector, so the pension plan on the table in our
tentative agreement has still not been accepted by all unions in the
sector. Since the wage issues have not been settled by all paramedics
across Quebec -- because the CSAQ is not currently negotiating -- there
can be no tentative agreement elsewhere. The other CSN-affiliated
unions and the other non-CSN unions are not going to say yes to the
pension plan until their wages are settled. We are a package deal.
Since 1984, we have always had the same wage increases. As long as they
do not have the same wage increases on the table and the problems of
workload and work schedules have not been resolved, there will be no
settlement. In other words, agreements must be reached everywhere at
the same time.
"Furthermore, employers do not have the authority to
make decisions on workload and the on-call schedules we want to
eliminate. The deployment of paramedics in Quebec is the responsibility
of the government and the health facilities. Our collective agreements
are not signed with these facilities. The situation is hell. So we are
telling the government to fix these problems. Before that, we had a
national negotiating table, we settled things. The Minister has taken
that away and since that time we cannot settle anything."
The paramedics are working hard to hold the Couillard
government to account, and ensure that its attempts to shirk its
responsibilities and sow divisions among the paramedics so as to
downgrade their working conditions and pension plans will not succeed.
They are keeping up the fight to improve their working conditions and
the delivery of services and refuse to be pitted against one another
and to have their united strength weakened.
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