April 12, 2018
For a New Direction for the Economy
Owners of Privatized Government Debt
Expropriate $70 Billion a Year
in Interest Payments
• Owners of Privatized Government Debt
Expropriate $70 Billion a Year
in Interest Payments
File Spurious $19 Million
• Further Outrage Against Workers, the
Community and Quebec - Pierre Chénier
• Interview, Clément Masse,
President, USW Local 9700
Machinations of Iron Ore Company of Canada
• Company Cites "Essential Services" to Delay
Strike in Sept-Îles
for Their Rights
• Nova Scotia Council of Health Care Unions
Prepares Strike Vote - Interview,
Jason MacLean, President, Nova Scotia Government and General
For a New Direction for the Economy
Owners of Privatized Government Debt
Expropriate $70 Billion a Year in Interest Payments
The accumulated countrywide privatized government debt
at $1.4 trillion. For the global imperialist coupon clippers who
the debt, the amount commands expropriation of $70 billion in
Privatized state debt is completely unnecessary. It
socialized economy in the grip of a financial oligarchy of global
parasites. The billions in interest payments ripped out of the economy
from new value workers produce leaves a gaping wound.
The right, left and centre wings of the parties which
form a mafia-style cartel in the Parliament stage fights over the
federal, Quebec and provincial deficits and growing privatized debts.
The centre and left wing of the
cartel plead that no other option is available to pay for
social programs than
state borrowing from the financial parasites
and taxation of individual working people with user fees, and sales,
income and property taxes. How else to pay the rich and pay for the
policy objectives they so crudely announce during elections? How else
to pay for the military alliance with U.S. imperialism in NORAD and
NATO and the endless predatory and inter-imperialist wars?
The right wing of the cartel bleats in response: we
will eliminate the deficit by cutting state spending on social
programs and public services. The right wing postures, but without much
conviction for eliminating deficits, because its heart and practice in
government are for slashing social programs but not in stopping
to the rich, war spending and free public services to private business
interests for which privatized state debt plays a major role.
For the right, left and centre wings of the cartel
parties the words come easily as they are comfortably accommodated
within the political process. The thought never occurs to them that a
modern socialized economy should not be militarized and organized to
pay the rich and defend class privilege. Nor does it dawn on them that
control of the economy by global oligarchs and their aim to expropriate
as much money profit for the benefit of the privileged few are in
contradiction with a modern socialized economy and its actual producers
who should be in control and who have rights by virtue of being human,
which are inviolable. The imperialist politicians and their fellow
travellers find it impossible to break out of their ideological
straitjacket because it would disrupt their careers, lives and
comfortable thinking they have learned by rote from birth.
Working people can do better. There is no need for
debt. There is no need for taxes on individuals. The economy should
function in conformity with its socialized character with each part
supporting the other parts and the whole, and thereby unleashing its
latent productive power. An end to any new privatized state debt and a
moratorium on privatized interest payments to the parasites pending an
investigation of the debt's authenticity would do wonders for the
economy releasing tremendous energy and growth. Getting Canada out of
NATO and NORAD would reverse the trend of militarization of the economy
and integration within the U.S. imperialist system of states.
Stopping payments to the rich and increasing investments in social
programs would transform the situation for the better.
A modern economy such as Canada's with its boundless
socialized productive forces and educated working class has every
possibility to meet all its social responsibilities seamlessly without
economic crises. Even now the new value workers produce is sufficient
for extended reproduction of the economy and to meet the needs of the
people as long as that new value is not expropriated by the parasites
and taken out of the economy.
Any amount governments or other state institutions may
meet necessary investments could be met with borrowing from themselves,
guaranteed by the future prospect of the new value workers would
produce. But for this to happen, each sector and enterprise would have
to cast off the disruption and damage caused by the narrow
private aim, control and unbridled competition of the rich to
expropriate for themselves as much new value as possible.
The financial oligarchs even refuse to engage in a
of value for what their enterprises receive from the social sectors and
public infrastructure. Instead of realizing in a proper exchange the
value they receive from public institutions producing educated and
healthy workers and infrastructure, they brush it aside as a
of state entities to provide without other parts of the economy
realizing (buying) the publicly produced value.
"We'll lend money to the state to pay for the value we
public programs, services, pay-the-rich schemes and infrastructure, and
happily use the value for free and clip the interest coupons in
return," the parasites smugly declare while blocking the modern
interconnected economy from functioning as it should and could with the
actual producers in control of their work and lives.
Working people are determined to take the economy in a
new pro-social direction. Demanding an end to privatized state debt,
individual taxation, pay-the-rich schemes and refusal of the oligarchs
to realize the social value their companies consume is part of the
movement to build the new. It is part of the striving for political
empowerment and renewal of the political process. Such demands are the
first step in taking control of the economy so that working people can
make the leap to directing the economy without crises and war according
to their modern social consciousness and outlook for the good of all
humanity and the social and natural environment.
Working People Can Do Better!
Stop Paying the Rich! Increase Investments in Social Programs!
End Privatized State Debt, Individual Taxation and the
Refusal of the Oligarchs to Pay for the Public Value They Receive!
Organize to Build the New!
1. Examples of privatized
government debt, which do not include the
privatized state debt of federal, Quebec and provincial crown
Ontario's deficit in its 2018 election budget
is $6.7 billion
adding to around $323 billion of privatized government debt.
payments to the financial oligarchy in the 2018 election budget
are $12.5 billion.
Alberta's 2018 budget deficit is $8.8 billion
deficits projected to add up to a privatized provincial debt
billion by 2023. The annual interest payment to the financial
is estimated to reach $2.9 billion by 2021.
Privatized BC provincial debt to the financial
oligarchy is $45
billion. The privatized BC state debt rises to $69.8 billion if
provincial Crown corporations are added. Another amount owed to the
financial oligarchy is "contractual obligations" of over $101
About $58 billion of that results from BC Hydro
signing long-term electricity contracts with private power companies.
Another sizable share represents public obligations under long-term
Public-Private-Partnerships (P3s) annual lease payments such as for the
Canada Line (Skytrain line in Vancouver) and the Abbotsford Hospital.
Privatized debt is $185 billion. Does not include Quebec
corporations such as Hydro-Québec's privatized long-term debt
Privatized government debt is $670 billion. 2018
payments to financial oligarchy estimated at $26.3 billion. Does
include privatized state debt of Crown Corporations.
For further information click
Bécancour Aluminum Smelter Owners
$19 Million Grievance Against Union
Further Outrage Against Workers,
the Community and Quebec
March 23, 2018, rally in solidarity with United Steelworkers Local 9700
locked out by Bécancour Aluminum Smelter.
The owners of Aluminerie of Bécancour Inc. (ABI)
on April 3 filed a grievance for $19 million in damage against United
Steelworkers Local 9700 and all its officers. Local 9700 represents the
1,030 locked-out workers at ABI in Bécancour, Quebec.
Alexandre Frechette, President of USW
Local 9490, expresses support
of the Alma aluminum workers. Signs read, "A better offer must be
negotiated" and "There is more than a
The owners allege the damage took place from October 5,
2017 to the beginning of the lockout on January 11, mainly from lost
production. They accuse the workers of engaging in illegal strike
actions, slowdowns, systematic refusal of overtime, gross mistakes, use
of bad work methods possibly resulting in "unexplained" breakdowns of
equipment, and even dangerous practices from "refusing" to empty
overfilled electrolytic tanks.
Workers reject the company complaints with contempt and
point to the absurdity of the slanderous allegations. Where was
company management when all this supposed sabotage occurred under their
noses? Why was no discipline of workers imposed at the time in response
to the alleged activity? No mention of these events exists in any
worker's record during the entire period covered by the company
With this assault on the workers of Local 9700,
the ABI owners are continuing their provocative actions of concocting
stories of workers' past bad behaviour to cover up a hidden agenda and
to justify their argument that negotiations are impossible. The ABI
lockout and company refusal to negotiate have been widely denounced and
exposed as without merit. To defend its indefensible position the
company turns truth on its head and accuses workers of not responding
to discussion and reason leaving it no choice but to resort to brute
force such as the lockout and ridiculous accusations of sabotage.
The workers made it very clear that the final offer of
ABI of January 10 could serve as the basis of an agreement with
further negotiations specifically on the issues of the pension plan,
jobs postings and "labour mobility." The company refused to begin
negotiations even with the assistance of a mediator and walked out
saying it had no
authority from its head office to come to any agreement.
What is to be expected from the Alcoa-Rio Tinto global
cartel that says the ABI plant needs total restructuring, refuses to
negotiate, declares a force majeure to get out of paying its
electricity bill to Hydro-Québec, and has now launched a
slanderous grievance accusing workers of "sabotaging" production?
The language of the grievance gives some indication of
the direction. It suggests that only the regular employees are causing
problems while the casual workers are not. The casual workers are not
refusing overtime, are not hindering production and so on. Is ABI
preparing to hire and deploy more casual workers at the expense of
workers? In this regard will it make further efforts to criminalize the
regular workers and local union officers of Local 9700?
ABI workers are not cowed by the owners and are
determined to defend their rights and mobilize public opinion in their
favour. They point out that the actions of the ABI owners go against
what workers and the people of the region consider to be negotiations
in good faith. The owners refuse to recognize and respect the role
workers play as
producers of huge quantities of new wealth. The portion of new value
they produce that remains in the community is mainly workers' wages,
benefits, and pensions. Much of the new wealth the owners expropriate
is taken out of the community and even Quebec, which makes the workers'
claims on the value they produce extremely important for
not just them but the local economy and people.
To deny workers their right to negotiate and have a say
in their wages, benefits, pensions and working conditions attacks not
only the workers but the economy and people of Quebec. The company's
slanderous grievance against the workers and refusal to negotiate are
aimed at negating the rights of workers. The owners' actions to negate
workers' rights to serve their narrow private interests are similar to
a coup against the workers, their community and Quebec and must not
The ABI ownership cartel is using the power of its
global empire and influence over various states, including Quebec and
Canada, to have its way. How else to explain no government response to
the nonsense of the company declaring its own lockout as a force
majeure to break its contractual obligations with
Hydro-Québec. The lost income to Hydro-Québec, according
to the calculations of the Quebec Steelworkers, is now close to $54
million since the beginning of the lockout. The Quebec government caved
in to the demand of the ABI owners to put language in the agreement
between Hydro-Québec and the company that defines a labour
dispute as a force majeure, which frees the company from its
obligation to pay for hydro power that has been made available but goes
unused and unpaid.
Steelworkers website keeps track of money lost to Hydro Quebec and
people of Quebec due
to the Aluminerie of Bécancour Inc. lockout of its workers.
ABI workers and the economy and people of the
Mauricie-Centre-du-Québec community and throughout Quebec are
heavy price for the arrogance and irresponsibility of ABI global owners
and the cowardice of the Quebec government to take a stand in favour of
for the ABI locked-out workers and their demand that ABI engage in
negotiations with Local 9700 and to come to a collective agreement that
the workers consider acceptable!
1. For further information on
the current struggle of
locked out steelworkers of Local 9700 read:
with Locked Out Aluminum Smelter Workers!," Workers' Forum, January 18, 2018.
Forum, February 1, 2018.
ABI's Secret and Self-Serving Agenda and Hold the Global Cartel to
Account," Pierre Chénier, Workers'
Forum, March 15, 2018.
Forum, March 22, 2018.
Forum, March 29, 2018.
Interview, Clément Masse, President, USW
Workers' Forum: Aluminerie de
Bécancour Inc. filed a $19 million grievance against
Local 9700 and all of its officers on April 3. Can you tell
us more about this?
Clément Masse greets delegation from USW Local 8644 from
Chibougamau who visited Bécancour, March 28, 2018, to offer
financial support to the locked out workers.
Clément Masse: It is a claim
for damages that the employer has filed against us. In essence, it
reiterates the content of the injunction that the employer obtained
before the Administrative Labour Tribunal last November. In its
application for an injunction, the employer accused us of work
slowdowns and several other
illegal acts. We never responded to the content of the injunction
application regarding the actions that were imputed to us. We did not
want to waste our time arguing whether the content of the actions were
truthful. There were no pleadings but the employer still received an
injunction saying that workers cannot wage actions in the plant and
the collective agreement must be respected. We did not oppose that,
because basically that is what the law says.
Now, the employer has taken the claims made in the
argument for the injunction and turned it into a grievance, in which it
is claiming $19 million in damages from the union for lost
production and profits based on events that occurred in
October 2017 and the following months.
In our view, this is a strategic move by the employer
that it wants to use as a bargaining tool to weaken the union. The
employer probably wants to try to trade the resolution of this
grievance for a new offer that will substantially worsen our working
We deny all the accusations that the employer makes
against us in this grievance. We say that it is completely false that
the employer lost $19 million because of us. Moreover, if the
workers had caused $19 million worth of damage, the
employer would have done something. They would have laid charges when
things allegedly happened. The employer is saying that these things
happened in October and the following months, but they did not take any
disciplinary action in the period during which the grievance claims the
In addition to that, the employer operates the plant.
They accuse us of not having emptied the electrolysis tanks, but we
empty the tanks when the employer tells us to empty them. It is
ridiculous to accuse us of not emptying the tanks when they did not ask
for overtime, when they did not ask the workers to empty the tanks that
full to a critical level.
We think they are in need of a reason to justify their
lockout. They blame the union for putting the plant in jeopardy, and
they say that this is why they locked out the workers. They are having
trouble justifying their decision to lock us out.
We are going to defend ourselves. We are not worried
about this move. They will have to prove that they lost $19
million because of us. To cause $19 million of damage in four
months requires a lot of actions and yet there is not a single mention
that has been written in the workers' records about the actions the
claims we have done. The employer says there have been unexplained
equipment breakdowns. If they are unexplained, how can they blame the
union for them?
We must take into account the timing of their actions.
After eight weeks of lockout, they came to the negotiating table to
tell us that they did not have a mandate to negotiate and they withdrew
their previous offer. Now, after 12 weeks of lockout, they file a
grievance for damages. We expect that they will eventually make a
proposal to come back to the table and then make an offer that is
totally unacceptable and use the grievance as a bargaining chip to push
us to accept their offer. Of course the grievance procedure will be
dealt with in due course. It will take time. It is going to be settled
in the course of the dispute. This is a way that the employer has
chosen to put pressure on us and try to divide our members.
WF: How is the union continuing to
mobilize its members to defend their rights?
CM: On the picket lines, we meet our
workers, we inform them, we tell them that we are not worried, that we
have not created any damage to the plant. It is not us who manage the
plant. All that the employer has done is to demonstrate its own
mismanagement by filing this grievance and the workers find
There are also actions coming up. On April 28, on
the occasion of the May Day event in Montreal, we will send a large
delegation to participate in the march.
Then, on May 9, we will fill two buses and go to
Pittsburgh to demonstrate in front of the hotel where Alcoa's annual
meeting of shareholders is taking place. We will also have a delegation
inside to speak and denounce the conflict, to inform the shareholders
of the conflict. It is a ridiculous decision that the employer has
means a loss of money to the workers, the community and the
Meanwhile, we continue to ask that the employer come
back to the table. We are still saying that the dispute is going to be
settled at the bargaining table. We expect the employer to table an
offer at some point. We say we have to finish the negotiation, that it
is the employer who left the table. The conflict will end at the table
and it will take
a negotiated settlement, which is acceptable to the workers.
Anti-Worker Machinations of Iron Ore
Company of Canada
Company Cites "Essential Services" to
Delay Strike in Sept-Îles
Acting with blatant self-interest and without regard
for the rights of workers, the Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC) has
intervened to block a strike at its rail and port operations in
Sept-Îles, Quebec. The workers took a strike vote on March 28 and
29, massively rejecting the company's final offer. The strike was to
begin April 10.
The law requires that the union and corporation come to
an agreement on essential services before a strike begins on the
railway from Labrador to Sept-Îles. IOC has blocked coming to an
agreement claiming that transportation of iron ore from Bloom Lake
mine, which is part of a contract it has with the Minerai de fer
Québec, should be
considered an essential service.
The union rejects the inclusion of the movement of ore
from Minerai de fer as essential. "For us, as a union, we know that
this is not even close to an essential service," said Dany Maltais, the
Steelworkers representative on Quebec's North Shore. Since no agreement
has been reached between IOC and the union, the Canada Industrial
Relations Board will settle the issue, something that is likely to take
weeks. (Since their work takes them across the border between Quebec
and Newfoundland and Labrador, the workers are covered by federal
IOC's arrogance is such that it claims its private
interest to expropriate profits from moving ore from other mining
monopolies should be considered "essential." In sharp contrast, when
monopolies such as IOC decide to halt the extraction and transportation
of minerals to serve their private interests and against the interests
communities, the words "essential service" never pass their lips. The
only essential issue for them is the right to exploit the raw material
and work-time of working people to expropriate as much new wealth as
they can however and whenever it suits their narrow interests.
Monopolies insist their demands and dictate must be the
law under all circumstances even if this negates the rights of workers.
The working class rejects this with contempt. IOC is trying to cause
workers problems to prevent them from organizing an effective strike to
put pressure on the company to reach a negotiated settlement suitable
workers both in Sept-Îles and Labrador City, where workers have
been on strike since March 27 against two-tier working conditions.
Workers across the country should raise their voices to denounce IOC
and support the over 1,700 fellow workers of USW Locals 5795
and 6731 in Labrador City, and Local 9344 in
Nova Scotia Public Sector Workers Fight
for Their Rights
Nova Scotia Council of Health Care Unions
Prepares Strike Vote
Health care and other public sector workers oppose enactment of
anti-worker Bill 148, outside opening of Nova Scotia legislature,
September 21, 2017.
The Nova Scotia Council of Health Care Unions is
the first ever province-wide Health Care Bargaining Unit strike vote to
oppose the wrecking of health care by the anti-social offensive of the
McNeil government and defend the rights of the health care workers. Workers'
talked to Jason MacLean, President
of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU),
about how this work is going. The Nova Scotia Council of Health Care
Unions is made up of the NSGEU, the Canadian Union of Public Employees
(CUPE), Unifor, and the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union.
Workers' Forum: NSGEU, as part of the
Nova Scotia Council of Health Care Unions, has begun the process of
holding membership meetings across Nova Scotia in preparation for a
strike vote in the current round of negotiations with the provincial
government and the health care authorities. Can you tell us more
Jason MacLean: We mapped out the rest
of April to reach out to our members. I feel it is very important to
have a face-to-face with the membership. It has been four years that
they have been without a contract. We want a strike vote but it has to
be an informed vote and the members have to be confident that
they are making the right decision.
At the beginning of April,
we had two telephone Town Hall meetings.
They were very well received, very positive, and what I got from my
members is that "Okay, now is the time to go down this road." What they
are trying to do is protect what they already have. This is not even
speaking to any type of gains. This is about protecting the
collective agreement because the employer sees this as an opportunity
to tear up provisions that they have in their agreements.
Every night except for one over the next two weeks I
will be meeting my members face to face to discuss the state of health
care, to discuss the state of bargaining and ask for a strike vote.
This is going to go right up until April 24. This is something that
I take very seriously. What we are going to do is open up the strike
vote on April 23, we are going to do an electronic vote. People are
going to be able to vote from April 23 to 30 and we are going to have
the results by April 30.
As far as NSGEU is concerned, this makes 15
CUPE, Unifor and the Nova Scotia Nurses Union are doing the same. There
are 6,500 health care workers that are involved in this process.
WF: In a press release, NSGEU stated
that the negotiations are not going well. Can you explain?
JM: We were hoping that things would
change for the better but they regressed. I can give you one example.
The employers tabled a new proposal around mobility that would allow
them to transfer employees around the province to where they think they
are needed. If they feel that they need a worker in an area, they
want to be able to tell a worker that may live in a totally different
area that they are going to move him or her for a certain amount of
time to that location. There are a lot of things that are wrong with
that situation. That could break up families. That could cause undue
stress on the worker. What they need to do is hire enough people to do
work in all areas. They have cut back on jobs in certain areas, or did
not fill jobs. What they need to do is fill those jobs. We, the unions,
as a Council, do not agree with that proposal. That is something that
is a true sticking point. We talk about work-life balance. What kind of
work-life balance are you going to have, or work balance for that
matter, when you are bounced all over the province? That is a
Another issue in these negotiations is Bill 148,
which freezes the
wages of all public sector workers of the province for the first two
years of a new contract and provides minimal increases in the third and
fourth year (zero per cent in year one, zero per cent in year
two, one per cent
in the third year, and 1.5 per cent in the
fourth year, with an additional 0.5 per cent on the last day of
fourth year). The bill also froze the retirement allowance for all
public sector employees effective April 1, 2015. All this
the health care workers that are currently into bargaining. We are
already moving backwards going into bargaining and the employer
wants to try and exploit other pieces.
WF: NSGEU speaks about a
crisis of the health care system in Nova Scotia.
JM: Yes. People do not have family
doctors. They show up to the Emergency Department sicker than before.
Hospitals are short-staffed so there is a huge backlog of families who
need care sitting in emergency departments. They are even sitting in
parking lots waiting to be seen. In some instances, they are waiting
up to an hour and a half just to be triaged. A lot of times they are
being sent home. Also that becomes further complicated because 20
cent of people that are in hospital beds really need to be in long-term
care. Premier Stephen McNeil has not built one long-term care bed in
his 10 years in office. We have sick people that are left in hallways
because there is no place to put them. People are leaving the Emergency
Department to call 911 because they are so desperate to get the
they need. We have over 100,000 Nova Scotians without a family
Emergency room closures have increased under the McNeil government
by 50 per cent. The surgical wait times
are the worst in Canada. Our health care workers are among the lowest
paid in the country. That is a retention issue because people are
leaving the province to go work elsewhere. The government denies that
there is a crisis. Our health care workers are telling us that this is
the worst they have seen in 20 years but the McNeil government
continues to deny this crisis. If that is not a crisis I do not know
And in all this, while the health care system in Nova
Scotia is in
crisis, we have our members who are without a contract for four years
had legislation imposed on them, but they are still keeping the health
care system together. I commend them on their commitment and
professionalism. The government is showing them no respect but
they are still keeping the system going.
WF: Would you like to say
something in conclusion?
JM: We want the members to
give us a
strike vote because we want to put pressure at the bargaining table. I
am also meeting the members face-to-face to commend them on the hard
work that they have done to keep things together. They have done a
great job and I want to let them know that NSGEU, their union,
will continue to represent them to the fullest, standing strongly by
1. For more information, see "Strike Vote Announced by
Nova Scotia Council of Health Care Unions," Workers' Forum,
April 5, 2018.
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