January 31, 2019
Demand Anti-Worker Legislation Be Scrapped
Their Right to Organize
• Renewed Disgraceful Attack
in Precarious Jobs
• Opposition to Abrogation of Environmental
• Ramada Hotel Workers in Prince George Rally
for a Better Contract
• Public Service Workers Persist in Fight for
Dignity of Labour
• Jaguar Land Rover Eliminates 5,000 Jobs
• Glasgow Women Win Important Battle
Ontario Workers Demand Anti-Worker
Legislation Be Scrapped
Construction Workers Defend Their Right to Organize
Under the hoax of opening Ontario for business and
eliminating red tape, the Ontario Ford government tabled Bill 66,
the Restoring Ontario's Competitiveness Act, 2018, on
December 6, 2018. The bill amends 18 existing laws and
is a massive attack on the workers and people of Ontario in all
aspects of their life.
One of the most salient
features of the bill is the
attack on construction workers. Schedule 9 of the bill amends the Labour
Act, 1995 to deem municipalities and certain local
boards, school boards, hospitals, colleges, universities and public
bodies to be non-construction employers. This means the trade unions
currently representing employees of those agencies and institutions,
who are now or may be employed in the construction industry, no longer
represent them. Any collective agreement binding the employer and the
trade union members ceases to apply in so far as it applies to the
This means the government is preparing to massively
de-unionize construction workers and construction work in public
institutions and terminate legally binding collective agreements
without the consent or permission of the workers involved. This is a
frontal attack on the wages and working conditions of construction
workers, on their right
to organize and be members of a collective, and their right to safe and
healthy working conditions that have the general approval of
construction workers and their collectives. This comes at a time when
the rates of fatalities and injuries in Ontario's construction sector
continue to rise.
Workers across Ontario are denouncing this attack as
well as Bill 66 as a whole. A number of unions have issued
statements highlighting the attack against construction workers.
Who Said What
The Carpenters' District Council of Ontario (CDCO)
writes in its statement dated December 11, 2018:
"Bill 66 is supposed to be the government's latest
attempt to make Ontario more competitive but, when it comes to
construction, Premier Ford has apparently decided to do this by
attacking ordinary workers. Parts of this bill will eliminate
construction bargaining rights and existing, long standing, collective
construction workers and various public sector employers, including
municipalities, school boards, hospitals, universities and alike. In
short, the ability of construction workers working for these types of
employers to freely bargain collective agreements for their
construction work will be made unlawful."
"Our union has had productive relationships with these
types of employers, such as the City of Toronto, which in many cases go
back decades, and which are designed to ensure that the employers get
real value for money while construction workers can make a fair and
honest living. Apparently, those types of relationships are not
that this Premier wants to see continue," said Mike Yorke, President
and Director of Public Affairs of the CDCO.
"This government is now attacking all construction
workers and their basic rights. Our Union for one intends to fight for
our members and their rights in every way we can. The Supreme Court of
Canada has made clear that the right to collective bargaining is
protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and if we have
to go all
the way to the Supreme Court in Ottawa to make Premier Ford's
government recognize this, then that is exactly what we are going to
do," said Tony Iannuzzi, the leader of the Carpenters' Union in Ontario.
The Toronto and York Region Labour Council, which has
many construction unions in Toronto as affiliates, writes in an open
letter to the Ontario Premier from its President John Cartwright sent
"As one of the final acts of 2018, your
Conservative government introduced legislation that would rip up all
construction union agreements with cities, school boards, universities
and hospitals. This is nothing short of a full-scale attack on workers'
rights in this province -- and something none of you talked about
during the election
"In Toronto that will decimate bargaining rights of
nearly all of the union trades, most of which have been in existence
for a century or more. To decide that you have the authority to simply
take away those agreements with a stroke of a pen is breath-taking. The
Supreme Court has overturned similar anti-union legislation in recent
because, unlike your government, it recognizes that the Charter
protects basic labour rights. Labour rights are fundamental to a just
"Toronto has the most productive construction workforce
in North America -- the product of many generations of immigration
combined with a deep commitment to apprenticeship and skills training.
Union training centres have an enviable record of success in
apprenticeship graduation and skills upgrading through life-long
members and unionized contractors contribute financially to ensure that
these crucial skills are passed on to the next generation. And the
safety record in union construction is dramatically superior to the
"There are many other aspects of the bill that are
deeply flawed and should also be withdrawn. I urge you to abandon
Bill 66 in its entirety."
The Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council
of Ontario (PBCTCO) writes in its December 12 statement:
"The bill's changes will reduce protection for workers
and consumers, put our environment at risk and weaken labour
standards," said Patrick Dillon, the Business Manager of the Council.
"Premier Ford claims he's ‘for the people' but these proposed changes
will benefit corporate Ontario instead of hard working Ontarians.
"Among the most egregious aspect of the bill is the
government's massive intrusion in free collective bargaining," Dillon
pointed out. "The intrusion in free collective bargaining is a sign of
a government with a clear autocratic streak. This bill was introduced
without consultation with the workers and unions affected by its
Needless to say, this government did not advise the people of its
union-bashing policies during the election campaign."
The Ontario Federation of Labour writes in a
December 6 statement:
"The bill deems public entities, like municipalities,
hospitals, universities and schools as ‘non-construction employers,'
opening the door for non-union shops in the construction trades to bid
on and build public infrastructure projects.
"Unionized construction trades are leaders in health
and safety. By opening public construction projects to non-union shops,
Ford is putting worker safety at greater risk and trampling collective
bargaining agreements," said OFL President Chris Buckley. "By reducing
safety standards to satisfy big business, the government is playing
lives of Ontarians. When there are too many children at a private
daycare, children are unnecessarily put in harm's way. When guardrails
are not required, workplace accidents kill workers. With this bill the
government that claims to be ‘for the people' is once again putting the
almighty dollar ahead of the lives of Ontarians."
1. For more information about Bill 66, read
"The Human Toll of the Ford Government's ‘Job-Killing Red Tape'
Campaign," Pierre Chénier, TML Weekly,
January 26, 2019.
Renewed Disgraceful Attack Against Workers
A significant aspect of Ontario Bill 66 is the
renewed attack by the Ford government on workers employed in precarious
work. Bill 66 follows the Making Ontario Open for Business
Act, 2018, known as Bill 47, which received royal assent
on November 21 of last year. Amongst other things,
Bill 47 eliminated the increase in the minimum wage from $14
to $15 per hour that was set to come into force on January 1,
freezing the current rate until October 1, 2020. Bill 47
also cancelled the minimum legal requirement of two paid sick days a
year, as well as a measure prohibiting employers
from forcing employees to obtain medical notes to prove they were sick.
The proposed Bill 66 makes changes to the Employment
Act, 2000 (ESA). It removes the legal requirement
that employers must apply to the Director of Employment Standards
before entering into an agreement whereby their employees can
exceed 48 working hours per week, with a limit of 60
hours per week.
A significant change contemplated in Bill 66 is
this repeal of the 60-hours-per-week cap under the hoax that this
will only happen if there is an "agreement" in place between the
employer and the employee. This is a fraud because the worker employed
in a precarious job is very often not organized in a union, thus lacks
backing of an organized collective. Precarious worker are often hired
through temp agencies, which means they have no direct formal employer
with whom they can reach an "agreement." This means workers are often
just ordered to work longer than the 60-hours-per-week cap and are
released if they refuse to "agree." The government is
now making the situation even more precarious and a blatant dictate by
removing the necessity of any intervention by the Director of
Bill 66 also removes the requirement that
employers must receive approval from the Director of Employment
Standards before entering into "agreements" that allow them to average
out their employees' hours of work for the purpose of determining their
entitlement to overtime pay.
Workers, particularly those who are not unionized,
already find it very difficult to avail themselves of the current
provisions in the ESA. In cynical fashion, the Ford government avoids
this situation by simply eliminating many parts of the ESA and any
legal mention of it at the workplace such as posters informing workers
of their ESA
Ontario workers say No!
to this shameful attack against
workers in precarious jobs and demand Bill 66 be scrapped!
Opposition to Abrogation of Environmental Protection
Demonstration outside Environment
Minister Lisa Thompson's office
December 14, 2018.
Stop Ontario Bill 66!
Bill 66 campaign -- www.stopbill66.ca
Some of the most retrogressive and dangerous measures
introduced in the Ontario Ford government's Bill 66 are changes to
the Planning Act. These proposed changes faced swift and broad
opposition as soon as the bill was made public. People from all walks
of life put up lawn signs, signed petitions, made calls to their MPPs
and rallied outside of their offices. Farmers, small business owners
and many municipal leaders publicly opposed Bill 66, putting their
concern for environmental protection first.
The Ontario Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark
tweeted on social media on January 23, "[The PC government] has
listened to the concerns raised by MPPs, municipalities and
stakeholders with regards to Schedule 10 of Bill 66 and when
the legislature returns in February, we will not proceed with
Schedule 10 of
Environmental groups are spearheading a campaign called
"Stop Bill 66." They want to make sure that not only the changes
to the Planning Act are indeed cancelled when the Legislature
returns but that the entire bill is scrapped.
The Planning Act sets out the ground rules for
land use planning in Ontario. Schedule 10 of the bill, which
Minister Clark facing almost universal opposition has said will be
dropped, would have amended the Planning Act by adding a new provision
that enables a municipality to pass an "open-for-business planning
According to the Ford government, the change would have created a new
"economic development tool" that would allow municipalities "to ensure
that they can act quickly to attract businesses seeking development
The proposal for an open-for-business planning bylaw
gives some insight into the profoundly anti-social and anti-democratic
outlook of the Ford government. The bylaw would be part of a
municipality's zoning powers. Before passing such a bylaw, the
municipality must first seek the approval of the Minister of Municipal
Affairs and Housing.
The demand would require a council resolution and any "prescribed
information." This would include "open-for-business information,
including details about the proposed employment opportunity, [and
demonstrate that the bylaw is] for a new major employment use." The
minimum threshold would be 50 new jobs in municipalities of less
than 250,000 people and 100 jobs for municipalities with
over 250,000. Within the process, no public notice or hearing
would be required prior to passing an open-for-business planning bylaw.
Once an "open-for-business planning bylaw" had
provincial government approval and was passed, a number of provisions
from the existing Planning Act and the following laws would not
apply to whatever "development project" has been proposed:
- Clean Water Act, 2006;
- Great Lakes
Protection Act, 2015;
- Greenbelt Act, 2005;
- Lake Simcoe
Protection Act, 2008;
- Metrolinx Act, 2006;
- Oak Ridges
Moraine Conservation Act, 2001;
- Ontario Planning and Development
- Places to Grow Act, 2005; and
Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016 .
Environmental groups forcefully pointed out that in
many cases these laws came into being with significant history,
including environmental damage and death and illness suffered by
Ontarians. An example is the Clean Water Act (CWA) that was
passed after the Walkerton, Ontario tragedy in 2000. Contamination
Walkerton's drinking water, as a result of inadequate purification and
water testing, following the system's privatization, claimed seven
lives and made thousands of people very ill. After Walkerton, the CWA
drew up source water protection plans to protect drinking water
facilities across Ontario. If that part of the bill was passed, these
would be threatened and this would open the door to other water
It should be noted that another measure in Bill 66
entails the repeal of the Toxics Reduction Act, 2009 ,
scheduled for December 31, 2021, and the repeal of all
existing regulations within the Planning Act. Wide opposition to the
repeal of this Act has quickly grown in Ontario. The Act deals with the
toxic substances at the workplace with the stated aim of reducing them.
The government is proposing the repeal of the Act without any input
from the workers and people of Ontario who are exposed or have been
exposed to toxic substances, and without a word of explanation or
scientific argument as to why this should be done.
Stop Bill 66!
Ramada Hotel Workers in Prince George Rally
On January 23, Ramada
Hotel workers -- members of UNITE HERE Local 40 -- organized a spirited
rally outside the
Prince George hotel demanding a better contract that would
significantly improve both their
wages and working conditions. They were joined by Prince George
residents from multiple
unions and work places, as well as from the broader community.
The Ramada workers have been without a wage increase for
almost three years, yet the hotel
is proposing a two-year wage freeze. The workers currently make about
$4/hour less than
their counterparts at the Coast Inn in Prince George. In addition, they
struggle with heavy
workloads and understaffing.
Ramada has invested $6 million in the hotel building
recently and has received a $345,000 tax
break from the City of Prince George. Yet the hotel refuses to invest
in its workers without
whom the hotel could not operate. The workers point out that they work
hard for the guests,
but the Ramada Hotel does not show them the respect they deserve.
As the rally progressed, leaflets were handed out to
hotel guests providing information about
the unacceptable situation faced by the Ramada workers. Many stopped to
learn why the rally
was taking place and to hear the request of the workers that, if the
Ramada does not address
their concerns, guests should choose another hotel the next time they
visit Prince George.
Similarly, the North Central Labour Council (NCLC) is calling on its
member unions to cease
business at the Ramada if the workers' demands are not dealt with.
UNITE HERE Local 40 members addressed the rally thanking
participants for their support
and expressing their determination to get a contract that meets their
needs -- similar to the
recent successful struggles of other Local 40 workers at the Coast Inn
and in food services at
the University of Northern BC (UNBC). Among other speakers were Kelly
Vice-President of NCLC and President of CUPE Local 1048; along with
Dawn Hemingway, a
professor with the UNBC Faculty Association and representative of the
Stand Up for the
With contract negotiations set to resume on February 5,
the Ramada workers were clear in
their resolve to continue and, if necessary, escalate their fight,
until they obtain an acceptable
contract. Supporters at the rally were equally clear in their
commitment to stand with UNITE
HERE Local 40 members.
Public Service Workers Persist in Fight
for Dignity of Labour
Public service workers protest outside
the NWT legislature,
March 9, 2018.
Workers' Forum reported last November that 4,000
public employees of the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT)
are waging a determined fight for significant improvements to their
Changes are needed to meet their needs in this northern
environment where the cost of living is much higher than in most of
southern Canada. The refusal of the GNWT to improve the living and
working conditions of public service workers is an attack on their
dignity and cannot be tolerated. Public sector workers provide services
the functioning of society, in health care, maintenance of roads and
highways and all the necessary infrastructure.
The GNWT does not treat public sector workers as the
backbone of the infrastructure who create immense value for the
Northwest Territories. Instead, the GNWT as is the case throughout
Canada consider workers not as value creators but a "cost" that needs
to be reduced and humiliated. This upside down backward outlook is
the modern world.
Workers report that after close to three years of
attempting to negotiate a collective agreement that meets their
demands, no progress has been made, so stubborn is the government in
denying their just demands. The government is now addressing individual
workers directly to misinform them about its offer, trying to split
them from their
fellow workers and pit them against the union.
In recent developments, the Union of Northern Workers
(UNW), which represents the workers, reports that all workers received
a document from the GNWT that was sent to them without the union even
being informed. The document says the wage offer will be part of a
five-year agreement, a term the union has refused to consider since the
very beginning of the negotiations.
The document also makes reference to both wage
increases and step increases, increases that workers receive when they
gain experience in a position. The union reports that the document
includes step increases in the calculations and then presents a false
average wage increase. According to UNW, for two thousand of the
experienced government employees, no step increases remain. This
renders the actual overall wage offer below what is needed to cover
cost of living increases, which unlike many collective agreements are
not included in the GNWT contract.
UNW reports that after close to three years of
negotiations, the government still refuses to provide measures of job
security to its workers. A large number of them are still treated as
relief, casuals or terms. Term and casual workers are often extended
over and over in that position rather than allowing them to become
Creation of fulltime jobs would improve the overall staffing while
providing workers with benefits and pensions, none of which they have
at the moment in their precarious position. Some workers who have been
working steady for the government for decades are still classified as
casuals. Under the anti-worker mantra of reducing the "cost" of the
human, which in fact is the source of new value, the government states
that it wants to expand the use of relief workers to the entire GNWT
workforce, which the workers firmly oppose.
The union has been in a legal strike position since
November of last year. It demands that the government sit with the
negotiating committee and address their two main demands: a wage
increase that allows government workers to face the increased cost of
living in this northern territory, and measures of job security that
allow more workers
to become fulltime employees so as to put an end to their most
precarious conditions which include, for many of them, being deprived
of pensions and benefits. To push for a settlement, the UNW proposed in
January that the government agree to binding arbitration, which was
flatly refused. A factor in this outright refusal to negotiate is found
the Public Service Act governing the Northwest Territories.
Under the Act, the government cannot lock the workers out but it can
unilaterally change any terms and conditions of employment for
employees in the bargaining unit.
The workers are determined to defend their dignity and
improve their living and working conditions. This is the first time in
almost 50 years that the employees of the government have been in
a legal strike position.
Service Workers Wage Determined Fight
for Their Rights and Dignity," Workers' Forum,
November 8, 2018
Jaguar Land Rover Eliminates 5,000 Jobs
The last Land Rover Defender coming off the
production line at
Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has announced it will cut up
to 5,000 jobs in Britain,
particularly in sales and administrative roles, amounting to one in
eight of its current British workforce of 40,000.
The job cuts are part of a $4.3-billion
"cost-cutting plan" in the
wake of publishing a $155-million loss in September 2018.
They come on
top of previous cuts since 2017, when 1,000 agency staff were
in Solihull. One hundred and eighty agency workers also lost their jobs
at Halewood in Merseyside. In
the last three months of 2018, Birmingham's Castle Bromwich plant
three-day week affect 1,000 workers.
The company, owned by monopoly Tata, produced
nearly 440,000 Land
Rovers and over 170,000 Jaguar cars in the previous financial
realizing a revenue of $44.5 billion. In no sense can such a
force as the JLR workforce be said to be a "cost." Only the narrow view
of capital-centred accounting, which
fails to view the business as part of the interconnected socialised
economy and sees only the particular firm's shareholders' bottom line,
can present such a colossal amount of value as a loss.
Rather, the continuing all-sided economic and political
affecting car production and hitting JLR, in what has been described as
a "perfect storm." The economic crisis is general, at heart of which is
increased productivity from ever-more advanced techniques leading to a
falling rate of profit, along with factors such as disparities
between production and consumption. JLR has been hit by a
nearly 50 per
cent drop in sales as the company's biggest and most profitable market,
China, has shrunk sharply recently, due in part to China's trade war
with the U.S.
It reflects the crisis that large monopolies are
restructuring programmes, moving capital to where labour and resources
are cheapest, carrying out productivity measures and pulling political
levers in order to compete in shrinking markets.
JLR has also been particularly affected by a collapse
in demand for
diesel cars in Britain and across Europe. This is a specific problem
for the firm, as 90 per cent of its vehicles are diesel-powered,
although it has been investing in new electric and hybrid vehicles such
as the all-electric Jaguar "I-PACE." The industry has put its weight
into lobbying the government over environmental legislation, insisting
that cleaner diesel is part of the solution. The Land Rover EU6 diesel
exempted from the proposed charges in Ultra Low Emission Zones.
One of the production lines at the Jaguar
Land Rover plant.
Uncertainly over Brexit and other potential problems in
also cited. Tata has been manoeuvring extensively with its steel and
automotive investments and has sought to lobby against a "Hard Brexit,"
warning a "no-deal" would cost the company over $2 billion per
Regardless, it is clear that free movement of capital exists
in Britain, the EU and the rest of the world where there is
unrestricted power of the monopolies and multinationals to operate at
will. JLR has tried to bypass Brexit for access to the EU Single Market
by transferring production of the Land Rover Discovery to Slovakia,
with plans to hire up to 3,000 workers there, while investing
China, where it has hired 4,000 workers since 2014. Unions
demanding to know whether JLR is permanently scaling back production in
Workers see through the company's propaganda and
capitalist market failures. As always, large plants like Castle
Bromwich will defend their right to a livelihood and resist such
measures that jeopardize jobs as they have had to do in the face of
such threats in the past. They refuse to accept the brunt, or the
entirety, of Tata's
global cost-cutting and restructuring. Workers and unions will be
seeking talks with the company over the deteriorating situation caused
by the company in the context of the ongoing and deepening global
Glasgow Women Win Important Battle
Women workers of Glasgow City Council have won a
historic battle over pay inequality. Thousands of women will now
receive pay-outs that could total more than $863 million.
Glasgow Women's Strike.
council and the claimant group, represented by Action4Equality
Scotland, Unison, GMB and Unite, announced that they have reached an
agreement in principle to settle the thousands of pay claims.
A strike held in October last year was the culmination
of a twelve-year fight of these women in defence of their rights.
Over 8,000 women struck work and 12,000 demonstrated in the
streets in what was the biggest such strike over equal pay in British
history. It therefore stands amongst the historic democratic successes
workers' and women's movements, from the era of Red Clydeside a century
ago to the Ford workers' strike in the 1960s.
The long drawn-out battle has taken many complicated
turns, in the course of which some 14,000 separate claims have
been brought to the courts. It began in 2006 with the introduction
of a new evaluation-based pay scheme, a result of the council's own
workforce "pay and benefit review." The scheme had been introduced with
the stated intention of dealing with the issue of pay inequality
between women and men. However, in practice the scheme was set up such
that it those on split shifts and irregular hours were paid less. This
particularly affected those employed in homecare, cleaning, catering,
schools and nurseries, which are female-dominated sectors, as opposed
those in predominantly male sectors such as waste collection. These
arrangements entrenched inequality and in May 2017 the Court of
Session ruled that the pay review discriminated against women.
Promises to settle claims lay
unfulfilled while the
council workers fought to defend their interests. Leading up to the
October strike, Unison regional organizer Mandy McDowall said: "It is a
modern-day scandal that nearly 50 years on from the Equal Pay
Act being introduced, we find ourselves standing alongside
women who are being discriminated against by one of the UK's largest
"These women are the lifeblood of Glasgow. They carry
out vital roles across the city -- cleaning, caring, educating and
looking after some of the most vulnerable people in our society. They
are the cogs that keep our city turning, yet their roles remain
chronically undervalued," McDowall added. "Strike action isn't a
decision these women have taken lightly, but after months of empty
promises they have been left with no choice," she said.
The action and broad mobilization proved crucial in
this success. Action4Equality's Stefan Cross said that it is since the
strike that "there have been real and constructive negotiations," and
GMB organizer Rhea Wolfson said: "This has been hard won and wouldn't
have happened if the claimants hadn't taken decisive action last
strike succeeded in its aim of making the council take these claims
seriously. It was also a spectacular event that put equal pay for
low-paid women on the national agenda."
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