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March 27, 2014 - No. 33

Time for a New Direction for Alberta's Economy!

No to "Business as Usual" --
Develop the Independent Politics
of the Working Class

  Workers Across Alberta Rally to Defend Pensions, March 20, 2014.

Time for a New Direction for Alberta's Economy!
No to "Business as Usual" -- Develop the Independent Politics of the Working Class
The Need to Empower the People, Not the Monopolies
The Battle for Alberta

Defend the Pensions We Have! Fight for Pensions for All!
Successful March 20 Day of Action to Defend Pensions
PC Government Must Withdraw Its Dictate on Public Sector Pensions

Edmonton Coming Events
Rally Against the Temporary Foreign Worker Program
Truth and Reconciliation Walk


Time for a New Direction for Alberta's Economy!

No to "Business as Usual" -- Develop the Independent Politics of the Working Class

Alison Redford resigned as Premier of Alberta and leader of the Alberta Progressive Conservatives on March 19. Her resignation is not going to put the brakes on the growing resistance to austerity and the state's use of force, dictate and violence against the working people. Far from it, the following day, public sector workers were out in force holding 28 actions across the province to say "Hands off Our Pensions!" The broad participation in the March 20 actions to defend pensions puts the lie to acting Premier Dave Hancock's declaration of "business as usual" for the ruling elite and their narrow private interests. The business rapidly becoming usual for the working people is their battle for Alberta and the public interest!

As for the competing private monopoly interests tearing at the ruling elite, which is evident in the sudden Redford resignation, their vicious fight for control of Alberta's resources, public authority and the wealth workers produce is bound to intensify. By saying it is "business as usual" Hancock is signalling to Albertans: move along there, nothing here to concern you, we the elite will determine the direction Alberta is to take and give you a choice of this or that representative of the energy and other monopolies. Don't concern yourself with any politics other than those we give you.

For their part, the PCs will once again try to present a new face, while the Wildrose will declare that the 2012 election, as the Calgary Herald said at the time, was only "the end of empire postponed," and now is the time for Wildrose to come to power. On the contrary, the end of the private monopoly empire will come when the organized working class has gained the strength, cunning and conviction of history that the time has come for the independent politics of the working people, a political power bold and determined enough to deprive the private monopoly interests of their ability to run roughshod over public right and the public interest.

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The Need to Empower the People, Not the Monopolies

The ruling elite are calling for business as usual after the Redford resignation. This denies the fact that Redford was forced to resign not because of wild spending habits per se. Not only has the unfettered anti-social agenda aroused the ire of an organized workers' opposition but the contradictions within the ranks of the ruling elite are becoming increasingly sharp. These sharpening contradictions exist within her own party as well as within the ruling circles -- which includes the Canadian and American ruling circles -- which are fighting over control of Alberta's resources, and between the federal authority and the provincial authority over control of the Alberta public authority. As far as big business is concerned, every level of government and every public authority is to be taken over directly by private monopoly interests. The sharp differences seen within the ruling elite and their PC, Wildrose and federal Conservative parties are over who will get to deliver state power directly to which private interests.

For the working people and First Nations of Alberta, it cannot be business as usual for that is leading to the complete collapse of public authority and civil death. The people's business demands a new pro-social direction to serve the public interest. Decisions on the basic sectors of the economy such as energy development, infrastructure and public services have a profound impact on the entire society. Those decisions cannot be considered private matters to be influenced and taken by the mainly foreign monopolies based on their overriding concern for their bottom line and building their private empires. Those decisions affecting the land, work, resources, well-being and future of Albertans are and must be public decisions based on serving the public interest.

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The Battle for Alberta

The battle for Alberta is on! The workers are in action to defend their rights and the rights of all. First Nations say No! to the trampling on their inherent, treaty and constitutional rights, to the pollution and destruction of the land and waters. Together, the people are fighting to uphold their right to decide, their right to economic and political empowerment.

The fight to end worker-trafficking and abolish the temporary foreign worker program is gaining momentum led by the building trades' workers. Seniors, students and faculty, people with disabilities and their families and friends and people from all walks of life are standing up to defend public services and oppose wrecking and privatization. Albertans are demanding an end to monopoly right to destroy the land and water, to pollute the environment, to drive people off their land and act like feudal lords declaring Alberta their private fiefdom. The people want a modern Alberta not some suffocating backward medieval reincarnation.

A modern social force like the working class of Alberta is very capable of representing itself politically. No way should the workers and their allies underestimate their own abilities and the tremendous role of the human factor/social consciousness. Far from accepting a subservient role of choosing amongst phony alternatives concocted by the ruling elite, which usually boils down to a plea to support the lesser evil, the times are calling on the workers to organize politically and advance their own independent working class politics. The times are calling for their empowerment!

For starters, let's force the government to revoke Bills 45 and 46, and to abandon its retrogressive pension legislation. Now is not the time for "business as usual"; now is the time to step up the organized resistance!

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Defend the Pensions We Have! Fight for Pensions for All!

Successful March 20 Day of Action to
Defend Pensions

Momentum continues to develop to demand that the PC government withdraw its attack on public sector pensions. This forms part of the general movement to force governments to uphold the modern right to security in retirement for all.

Thousands of workers participated in the March 20 Day of Action on Pensions. Once again, the weather did not cooperate; a spring storm brought wet snow and a driving wind, yet the workers came out to express their determination to defeat the government's attack on their pensions. Actions took place at workplaces during the noon hour right across the province, including Calgary, Camrose, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Peace River, Red Deer and St. Albert. Thirty sites participated with rallies and pickets at hospitals, city halls, colleges and universities.

The actions brought together provincial, municipal, health care, school board, college and university workers, including firefighters, and their allies. The Day of Action was organized by the Labour Coalition on Pensions. Unions worked together to organize the local rallies, ensuring the success of the day of action.

Much discussion at the rallies and pickets turned to Premier Alison Redford's announcement the previous evening that she was resigning effective March 23. TML spoke with workers at several sites including the Misericordia Hospital in Edmonton and the Foothills Hospital in Calgary. Many workers pointed out that the refusal of the Tories to recognize that public sector workers have rights based on their important contribution to society is an important factor in the PCs falling star. The contempt for democracy, abuse of authority, refusal to negotiate in good faith, and use of dictate and force by the Tories has led to widespread anger and opposition. At the Foothills, the workers chanted No! to both the Tories and the Wildrose who want to eliminate defined benefit pensions for new hires. The overwhelmingly conviction of the workers is that now is the time to step up the fight and force the government to withdraw its retrogressive pension legislation.

Edmonton





Calgary




Red Deer; Lethbridge


Grande Prairie


Medicine Hat; Boyle

(Photos: TML, CUPE, AUPE, UNA, Truth About Pensions, J. Urbina-Maclean)

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PC Government Must Withdraw Its Dictate on
Public Sector Pensions

In preparation for the March 20 Day of Action on Pensions, the Labour Coalition on Pensions (LCOP) issued an open letter to all plan members. The March 6 letter makes clear that the government's claim that reductions in benefits are necessary to keep the plan "sustainable" is not supported by any facts. The LCOP also notes that in December 2013, the coalition provided a detailed, fully costed proposal to government designed to strengthen public sector pensions such as the Local Authorities Pension Plan (LAPP). The coalition explains that its proposal would also increase retirement security for all Albertans by expanding the Canada Pension Plan.

The Coalition's open letter states, "The report was reviewed by an independent actuary who found that our proposals would have reinforced LAPP without undermining benefits for current or future pensioners."

The government ignored the proposals and instead of engaging in good faith negotiations, plans to abuse its majority to dictate changes to the pension plans without the support of the pension plan boards or the workers affected and their unions.

The government's latest dictate would make retirement before age 65 out of reach for most workers. The LCOP states, "With the exception of a few select occupations, the government is proposing to make early retirement available only to workers whose age is at least 60, and whose age and years of service add up to at least 90. Additionally, these workers would have their pensions reduced by up to 7.2 per cent for each year they retire before the age of 65."

Current provisions allow a worker to retire with full pension at age 55 and 30 years of service. The government dictate would see workers who retire at age 60 with 30 years of service lose up to 36 per cent of their salary. This puts early retirement out of reach, and makes it impractical for almost all workers -- even the ones who need it the most, the open letter states.

Actuarial analysis, the auditor general, and pension experts have all confirmed that the government's dictate would make the public sector pensions less financially secure, the open letter explains. Why then is the government making this move to destabilize the plans? The answer is not so hard to find. More than 300,000 plan members (active workers and retirees) participate in the four pension plans affected, the largest of which are the LAPP and the Public Service Pension Plan. Destabilizing the plans involving the largest number of workers is part of the austerity agenda to attack pensions for all.

The anti-social outlook and agenda of the authorities who hold economic and political power refuse to recognize that people are born to society and are in a positive relationship with it, with definite rights and duties. The hard work of the working class is what guarantees the existence of society and the socialized economy, and in return, the workers have a right to security from birth to passing away. The working people are not a burden on society; on the contrary, they make it function.

The rich and all those who cling to class privilege insist that the entire society, including importantly the working class and the natural bounty of Mother Earth, must serve their narrow private interests in opposition to the public interest and good and the individual interests of the working people. This backward notion of a people and society serving a privileged elite is a relic of the dark ages and should be cast aside. Retrogressive notions such as class privilege are a burden on society and the people, and are holding them back from building a bright future.

Alberta and all of Canada are well into the modern era of the human factor/social consciousness, where people have rights by virtue of being human. Security in retirement is one of those basic rights, which society and its state must guarantee for all. The PC government's retrogressive pension dictate is in contempt of modern rights and society and should be withdrawn immediately.

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Edmonton Coming Events

Rally Against the Temporary Foreign Worker Program

Edmonton
Saturday, March 29 -- 2:00 pm

Canada Place, 9700 Jasper Ave.
Organized by: Canadians Against the Temporary Foreign Workers Program Alberta Federation of Labour
For information: Facebook


Click to enlarge.

Truth and Reconciliation Walk

Edmonton
Sunday, March 30 -- 6:00 pm

Shaw Conference Centre, 9797 Jasper Ave.
Celebratory walk down Jasper Avenue to Alberta Legislature
For information: windspirit@live.ca


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