February 11, 2014 - No. 11
in Battle to End the Anti-Worker Temporary Foreign Workers Program
• End the Temporary Foreign Workers' Program!
• End Worker Trafficking by the Harper
Dictatorship! - Peggy Askin
• Ironworkers Struggle Shows
Necessity to Shut Down the Temporary Foreign Workers Program
- TML Correspondent
up the Struggle in Defence of Rights!
• Affirm the Right to Say No! to the
Anti-Worker Agenda - Peggy Morton
• The Lougheed Legacy -- Union Busting and
Stop Paying the Rich! Increase
Investments in Social Programs!
• University of Alberta Serves and Pays the
Diamond Monopolies - Dougal MacDonald
Working Class in Battle to End the
Anti-Worker Temporary Foreign Workers Program!
End the Temporary Foreign Workers' Program!
Complex arrangements of contractors and sub-contractors
are standard on Alberta oil sands projects. Each time unionized
Canadian workers are laid off while temporary foreign workers (TFWs)
continue to work on the same project at lower wages, the project's
owners and overall construction contractor declare that the TFWs are
employed by a different sub-contractor. How convenient that the energy
and construction monopolies can all claim they bear no responsibility
while they use the temporary foreign workers program to drive down
wages and benefits, seize more value from the workers who are building
these projects and creating the wealth, refuse to organize public
training for the thousands of Canadian workers who yearn to improve
their skills, and exploit foreign workers with lower wages and in
minimum wage work where they are open to serious mistreatment.
Similar examples to Pacer Promec Joint Venture's recent
firing of 65 ironworkers have been brought forward, showing that abuse
of rights is an integral part of the normal operations of the Temporary
Foreign Workers Program. In September 2013, 270 welders and pipefitters
at Husky Energy's Sunrise site north of Fort McMurray were replaced by
temporary foreign workers. Another case involved RBC staff who were
required to train their replacements who came to Canada as temporary
foreign workers. These examples, where workers waged an organized
resistance to the attack, are just the tip of the iceberg as most cases
occur in unorganized workplaces. The TFW Program reveals how blatantly
the political institutions serve the narrow private interests of the
monopolies and negate the rights of both Canadian and foreign workers.
The working class knows it has the responsibility to
make sure the rights of all are defended. Today, the historic necessity
is to organize to deprive the monopolies and their political agents of
the power to serve narrow private interests in opposition to the public
interest and good. Concretely it is necessary to force the Harper
dictatorship to end the Temporary Foreign Workers Program and for
Harper to resign as Prime Minister. It must be done! It can be done!
End Worker Trafficking by the Harper Dictatorship!
When outrageous examples of how the Temporary Foreign
Workers Program (TFWP) operates are brought to light and put under
public scrutiny, the Harper dictatorship expresses its indignation over
such abuses. A spokesperson for Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment
and Social Development repeated the stock phrases in response to the
latest example at Imperial Oil's Kearl Lake project where members of
Ironworkers Local 720 were laid off and replaced at half-pay by
temporary foreign workers from Croatia. "Our government will not
tolerate any abuse of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Our
government has recently made reforms to the Temporary Foreign Worker
Program to ensure that Canadians are first in line for available jobs,
and this program remains under review."
This statement is mere smoke and mirrors intended to
divert from the real issue that the government must be held to account
for engaging in global worker-trafficking.
In December 2013, the federal government announced
regulations, which it said allowed government officials to conduct
workplace inspections without warrants and blacklist employers who
break the rules. But the Harper government had already announced
similar regulations, which came into effect in April 2011, barring
employers from accessing the program for two years if found to have
breached their employment contract with a temporary foreign worker.
What happened to those regulations and why the big fuss over their
The government claims that it monitors this program
carefully. Yet now it says it did not have the authority to conduct a
workplace inspection without a warrant. So, what was it monitoring and
how can the people believe it is now serious?
During the court case launched by two unions against HD
Mining, which hired 200 temporary foreign workers after making fluency
in Mandarin a job requirement, the federal government claimed it was
powerless to require HD Mining to produce the applications it received
from Canadians. In other words, the federal government said it had no
way to verify whether the company complied with the law. What kind of
monitoring is this?! What kind of public authority is this?! The Harper
dictatorship claimed it was bringing in new regulations in response to
the HD Mining case. What happened to those new regulations and why do
regulations matter, if no public authority is willing or capable of
All of this just provides further proof that the TFWP is
not a legitimate program being abused by some employers. It is a form
of human trafficking of workers internationally to expand the labour
market to drive down wages, benefits and working conditions and weaken
the organizations of the Canadian working class.
Alberta Federation of Labour President Gil McGowan
emphasized this reality in exposing the events that took place at Kearl
Lake when 65 ironworkers were fired and replaced at half-wages by
temporary foreign workers. "Stephen Harper says he won't tolerate abuse
of the TFW program but the reality is that employers are simply using
the program the way it was designed to be used.... When it comes to the
TFWP, Stephen Harper is the walking, talking definition of hypocrisy."
"This is not an isolated case," McGowan said.
"Increasingly, this is becoming business as usual." He said that two
other groups of oil sands workers in the past month have also been laid
off and replaced by temporary foreign workers working for much lower
The working class must not permit this to become
"business as usual" for the monopolies. The TFWP is a blatant example
of owners of capital using political institutions to enact legislation
to serve their private interests. The program itself is an abuse of the
working class and shows the need for new ways of thinking and
organizing. Canadians must stand as one in defence of the rights of
all, against forced labour and human trafficking, and against a system
that considers unemployment and abuse of the unemployed in Canada and
globally as acceptable.
The only legitimate use of such a program is to
facilitate temporary work permits, which are of benefit to society such
as academic or cultural exchanges. The TFWP must be abolished and any
new program restricted to providing work permits for legitimate
purposes. Permanent resident status with full rights must be granted to
all current undocumented workers and temporary foreign workers resident
in Canada, based on the modern principles of Status for All and that
People Have Rights by Virtue of Being Human.
The Harper dictatorship must be held to account for its
worker trafficking and blatant corruption in serving the global
monopolies and attacking the rights of workers. The workers have an
opportunity to hold Harper accountable when a federal by-election takes
place in Fort-McMurray-Athabasca.
the Temporary Foreign Worker Program!
Harper Resign Now!
Ironworkers Struggle Shows Necessity to Shut Down the
Temporary Foreign Workers Program
Sixty-five ironworkers employed by Pacer Promec Joint
were laid off from their jobs at Imperial Oil's Kearl oil sands mine on
February 4. Ironworkers' Local 720 Business Manager Harry Tostowaryk
informed TML that the workers were replaced with workers from
under the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP) at about half the
prevailing Alberta wage for similar work.
Imperial Oil spokesperson Pius Rolheiser said he could
on the issue because the workers were employed by a third-party firm.
"We're really not in a position to comment on this employment change,"
he said. "Our own employees operate mining and extracting services, not
According to Imperial Oil,
it has no responsibility if its contractors engage in illegal
anti-worker practices. It is all see no evil, hear no evil
when it comes to awarding contracts to contractors who base their
estimates on the exploitation of temporary foreign workers. In this way
both the contractors
and the global energy monopolies can seize more of the value created by
the building trades' workers constructing the projects, and reduce the
value claimed by workers.
PPJV also claims it acted properly saying its actions
consistent with legislation but because of the uproar it would "re-hire
Canadians to impacted positions that had been filled with temporary
foreign workers." In an attempt to blunt criticism of the anti-worker
program and its actions, the company deflected
responsibility to its subcontractor, not for engaging in anti-worker
activity but for making a public relations gaffe. PPJV repeated the big
lie underlying the anti-social anti-worker program saying, "The
temporary workers should have been assigned to other projects where
there is an existing labour shortage."
Despite this announcement that the workers would be
Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL), the ironworkers themselves and
their Local 720 report that none of the fired workers has been rehired
and that Croatian workers are still on site working for half of
Canadian standard wages.
After the news broke that the fired workers had not been
PPJV was reported in the mass media as taking revenge on the fired
workers for raising the issue publicly. The company says it has rehired
some Canadian ironworkers but not the ones who were laid off. Its
actions are to discourage other workers
from standing up for their rights but the ironworkers refuse to be
Vic Nilson, one of the laid off Local 720 ironworkers
spoke to CBC
saying the company betrayed them. "They said that we were all going to
be reinstated and given our jobs back up there, with that company. And
I've heard nothing. We got kicked to the curb here and I don't think
it's right. Not
at all," he said.
Gil McGowan, President of the AFL added, "So those
lost their jobs are still out of work.... I think Canadians should
still be outraged by the way that the company has used a program to get
rid of a bunch of highly skilled Canadian trades-people."
The ironworkers refuse to be fired quietly; they are
organized resistance and are winning the battle of public opinion to
end the TFWP. Does Harper think the workers will be silenced with a
clumsy cover-up and more empty claims that it will not tolerate "abuse"
of Canadian and temporary foreign
workers? Silence is not golden when it comes to the rights of workers.
Congratulations to the ironworkers and all construction workers! Their
continued resistance to this injustice can be an important factor in
holding the Harper dictatorship to account and to send his gang packing
in the coming by-election in Fort
Stand with the ironworkers and their allies who are
demanding an immediate end to the Temporary Foreign Workers' Program.
Pacer Promec Joint Venture is a joint venture between
Pacer and Quebec-based Promec. Pacer lists about $300 million in
contracts with various projects, including work on Edmonton's
Walterdale Bridge replacement. Most of the firm's work is in the oil
sands, where it is engaged in tank farm
construction, concrete and underground work for CBI Horton at Kearl.
CBI Horton is a huge global monopoly headquartered in Texas. Pacer also
does piling work for Fluor at Imperial's oil sands project and work at
the Canadian Natural Resources' Horizon oil sands expansion.
Imperial Oil claimed net
income of more than $1 billion in the last
quarter of 2013 alone. In 2012, it had near record profits of $3.766
billion, while its parent company, Exxon Mobil claimed net income of
more than $44 billion.
Step up the Struggle in Defence of Rights!
Affirm the Right to Say No! to the Anti-Worker Agenda
In its latest attempt to
present a softer image, Alberta's Wildrose Party is claiming the mantle
of former Premier Peter Lougheed. The party is suggesting that with the
passage of Bills 45 and 46, the "Lougheed legacy" has been shattered. A
statement issued under the name of Wildrose House Leader Rob Anderson
says, "In 1977, Premier Peter Lougheed provided public sector employees
the right to binding arbitration as an alternative to removing their
right to strike. We believe that this was and still is a fair
compromise that should be upheld."
What exactly is this Lougheed compromise that Anderson
speaks about? A self-described right to binding arbitration is no
alternative to depriving workers of their rights. Public sector
workers' rights were and continue to be violated by denying them their
right to strike. The rights that belong to workers arise objectively
from their position in society as the producers of all goods and
services. Their rights cannot be taken away or compromised. In 1977,
public sector workers were fighting to defend their rights as best they
could while under extreme assault by the anti-worker Lougheed regime.
Public sector workers add enormous value to the
socialized economy and provide necessary public services without which
a modern society cannot exist. They have the right to wages and
benefits commensurate with their work and qualifications. Workers have
the right to say No! and to take effective collective action
to enforce their opposition to wages and working conditions that they
consider are not commensurate with their work. For a government to
violate workers' rights in any way, including forcing a "compromise"
that denies rights, proves that such a government is not fit to govern
and should be removed. This is true of the Lougheed regime of yesterday
and the Redford regime of today. For Wildrose to praise one over the
other shows it is in the same anti-worker anti-social camp and merely
throwing sand in the eyes of the people.
Criminalizing workers' resistance and their right to an
effective say by making strikes illegal while legislating compulsory
arbitration is a forced compromise in violation of workers' rights. To
say otherwise is to deny that workers have rights and to recognize only
privileges in the manner of a mediaeval lord, which can be given and
taken away through royal prerogative. This does not reflect a modern
society where people have rights by virtue of being human. Rights
cannot be given and taken away. They are inviolable and government is
duty bound to affirm and guarantee them.
The Lougheed government and all succeeding PC
governments have violated the rights of public sector workers by making
strikes illegal in the entire public sector in Alberta. These
governments have also attacked the rights of building trades workers to
take effective strike action.
Compulsory arbitration is a negation of rights, a system
imposed on workers in the heat of class struggle to deny their right to
an effective say over their wages and working conditions.
Decision-making power is put into the hands of an arbitrator and
governed by legislation that usually severely restricts the basis on
which an arbitrator can make a settlement.
Within the dark cloud of neo-liberalism, the Redford
government does not even want arbitration to interfere with its attacks
on good faith bargaining and other workers' rights and their dignity.
With Bills 45 and 46, the war against workers and denial of their
rights is open and violent.
The working class will not blunt its resistance by
succumbing to the siren song of the anti-worker Wildrose Party. Workers
demand that the Redford government renounce its use of force and
violence. It must immediately repeal the anti-worker Bills 45 and 46
and all other anti-worker legislation that criminalizes workers for
exercising their right to say No! and deprives them of an
effective organized say on their wages and working conditions.
Equilibrium in workplace relations can only exist with
the recognition and affirmation of workers' rights.
The Lougheed Legacy -- Union Busting and
With its nonsense about the Lougheed legacy, Wildrose is
trying to revise history for purposes of disorienting the fighting
forces. The Lougheed era is presented as a "Camelot" where harmony
prevailed between the working class and owners of capital and their
government. The Wildrose fairy tale denies the reality of union
busting, anti-worker legislation and the abuse of political power to
attack the rights of workers. During this period, workers from many
sectors took bold and courageous stands in defence of their rights and
the rights of all.
Prior to the 1971 election, which brought Peter Lougheed
to power, he promised to bring in legislation providing full bargaining
rights for public employees. Instead, his government enacted the Public Service Employees Relations Act making
and limiting the issues that could be arbitrated.
Lougheed did not just fail to provide full bargaining
rights for provincial government workers. In 1983, his government
passed Bill 44 making strikes illegal for hospital workers and
firefighters. Bill 44 provided for substantial fines and suspension of
dues collection for up to six months for any union that upheld its
members' right to an effective say on their wages and working
The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, the Canadian
Union of Public Employees, and the Alberta International Fire Fighters
Association did not accept this legislation as providing a "right."
They fought the legislation, including challenging it in the courts. In
a landmark case at the time in 1987 known as Alberta Reference, the
Supreme Court ruled the law constitutional and refused to recognize the
workers' right to say No!
Button produced by
the Alberta Federation of Labour during the campaign against Bill 44. (Alberta Labour History Institute)
The first strikes of provincial government employees
took place during the Lougheed era, beginning with the strike of the
Alberta Liquor Board Employees and a two-day walkout of direct
government employees angered by the government's bad faith bargaining
in 1980. Calgary teachers were also subjected to back-to-work
legislation in 1980 when they walked out demanding that the government
address the question of class size, a battle teachers are still
fighting to this day.
When the United Nurses of Alberta (UNA) went on strike
in 1980, the government ordered the nurses back to work after three
days. The nurses stood firm and refused to return to work, a stand that
received overwhelming public support. The government was forced to back
down and six days later UNA reached a negotiated settlement that met
virtually all their demands.
In 1982, the Tory government ordered the nurses to
participate in a government-supervised vote to supersede the vote the
union had organized according to its constitution. UNA resisted this
attack on its members' right to decide, and the government retaliated
with legislation making it a criminal offence for a union to boycott a
government-supervised strike vote. Nurses went on strike again in 1982
and this time the government used back-to-work legislation, which
included large fines, decertification of the union, and in revenge for
their defiance, a ban on workers holding office in or working for a
trade union in Alberta for two years.
The Lougheed years saw the government preside over
unprecedented union-busting. Lougheed's negotiations to secure the
building of Syncrude included changes to the labour code to champion
monopoly right, essentially written by the owners of capital who formed
the Syncrude consortium. The "special project status" laws were used by
CNRL in the Horizon oil sands site to sign an agreement with the
company union CLAC, the Christian Labour Association of Canada.
workers oppose unfair labour laws, Edmonton, 1986. (Alberta Labour History Institute)
In 1984, the Contractors' Association locked out
building trades across the province when their contracts expired.
Twenty-four hours later, the companies declared the collective
agreements null and void, and unilaterally cut wages by 50 per cent and
The anti-worker labour laws from that era exist to this
day. They permit contractors to establish as many paper companies as
they like and force the unions to recertify repeatedly with what is
really the same company. Work can simply be transferred from a
unionized company to a non-union "spin-off."
Many workers still remember this bitter Lougheed period,
for both its hardships and the courageous battles fought in defence of
the rights of all. Building trades workers organized mass
demonstrations at the Legislature and carried out actions on
construction sites. They were known as a force that stood as one with
workers of every sector fighting for their rights. For example in 1986,
hundreds of out-of-work construction workers stood as one with the
workers at Gainers meatpackers, returning day after day for the
historic "Battle of 66th Street" to defend the strike and keep scab
replacement workers out of the plant.
Workers should discuss what is behind this Wildrose
rewriting of history, especially its devious design to convince workers
of no need to develop their own independent working class thinking,
viewpoint, politics, organizations and united struggle for a new
direction for the economy.
Stop Paying the Rich! Increase
Investments in Social Programs!
University of Alberta Serves and Pays the
The University of Alberta (U of A) has just announced
that it is opening the Arctic Resources Geochemistry Laboratory (ARGL),
a new state-of-the-art diamond research lab that will do research on
behalf of Canada's 15-year-old diamond industry. The new lab is the
largest of its kind in Canada and among the best equipped in the world.
The ARGL will advance understanding of diamond deposits, help find
deposits far beneath the surface, and help industry determine which
deposits are economically viable. This is fully in line with the
Redford government's attempts to use funding cuts to force universities
to carry out research that can be quickly commercialized by private
The U of A received $10 million for the new diamond lab
from the Harper dictatorship through the Canada Excellence Research
Chairs Program (CERC), with additional funds (dollar amounts
unavailable) provided by the federal Canada Foundation for Innovation
(CFI), the U of A itself, and Alberta Enterprise and Advanced
Education. The CERC program (founded 2008) and the CFI (founded 1997)
award university researchers with money to establish specific research
programs at Canadian universities, which will "improve Canada's
economic competitiveness." Alberta Enterprise and Advanced Education,
the provincial funder of the lab, is the ministry for post-secondary
education, which in March 2013 cut $147 million from the operating
budgets of the province's universities, colleges, and technical
institutes under the hoax of fiscal austerity.
Diamond production in Canada began in October
the Ekati mine opened 300 km north of Yellowknife. Diavik opened in the
same area in January 2003. Jericho mine opened in Nunavut in 2006 but
was abandoned by owner Shear Diamonds in 2012, leaving behind an
environmental mess and unpaid creditors, including the federal
government. Snap Lake started production near Ekati and Diavik in 2007.
The Victor open pit mine opened in Ontario in spring 2008. By 2003,
Canada was the world's third largest diamond producer by value after
Botswana and Russia.
The Canadian diamond industry is highly monopolized.
Ekati is 80 per cent owned by Australia-based BHP Billiton, the world's
largest mining company. Diavik is 60 per cent owned by the
Rothschild-controlled Rio Tinto and 40 per cent by Dominion Diamond, a
subsidiary of Swiss monopoly Swatch. Snap Lake and Victor are both
owned by the 125-year-old South African diamond monopoly De Beers. De
Beers operated the world's largest diamond nine in Namibia for decades
while Namibia was illegally occupied by apartheid South Africa. Under
racist apartheid, African mineworkers were condemned to inhuman working
and living conditions. Until about the year 2000, de Beers was able to
fix world diamond prices at artificially high levels by restricting the
number of diamonds put on the "free" market.
In establishing their
diamond mines in Canada, the foreign mining monopolies had to face the
northern Aboriginal peoples. The same monopolies that built their
fortunes on plundering indigenous lands around the world now demanded
the right to stake, explore, and develop diamond mines on northern
indigenous lands. The lives of the peoples in the mining areas were
soon transformed by the complex and time-consuming negotiations
required to protect their hereditary, treaty, and human rights. The
monopolies used many tricks to receive what they wanted, such as
collaborating with sellout politicians and slick lawyers, making vague
and misleading promises, and calling sudden meetings to ram through
crucial decisions. The established mines have left huge ecological
footprints, distorted the traditional lives of the indigenous
communities, and brought few financial and other benefits. In contrast,
what is being demanded by the people is that the mining of such
resources must benefit the First Nations, the workers as the actual
producers, and the people of Canada. The people also demand that
diamond mining must be done in ways that protect Mother Earth.
The new Arctic Resources Geochemistry Laboratory shows
again how neo-liberalism continues to turn universities in Alberta
into servants of the monopolies, a direction openly fostered by
the provincial government. Coincident with the diamond lab
announcement, the U of A also announced defunding of its prestigious
Canadian Circumpolar Institute (CCI) and Circumpolar/Boreal Research
because the CCI, which investigates issues such as governance, health,
and education in northern and Polar Regions is not "self-sustaining,"
i.e., does not directly serve private industry.
Research such as was done by the CCI is being replaced
by blatant pay-the-rich schemes like ARGL that provide huge monopolies
such as Billiton BHP, Rio Tinto, and de Beers with sophisticated
facilities, highly trained personnel, the most up-to-date equipment and
cut-rate expert research, as well as low cost or free training for many
who will become their employees. None of this serves the real interests
of the people of Alberta. What is required is a post-secondary
education system where universities, colleges, technical institutes,
and the research performed in them serve the public interest and not
just a handful of private foreign monopolies that continue to plunder
the people's natural resources in the most reckless manner.
Read The Marxist-Leninist Daily
Website: www.cpcml.ca Email: firstname.lastname@example.org