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July 8, 2014 - No. 65

In Memoriam
Byungho Yoon

November 11, 1936 - July 7, 2014

In Memorium
Byungho Yoon

Canada's Resources Should Benefit the People
U.S. Mining Monopoly Exports Its Crisis to Canada - Jim Nugent
Who Uses Chromite and Other Strategic Minerals

Ongoing Wrecking of Manufacturing
Unacceptable Government Intervention in Heinz Scam to Defraud Workers - Enver Villamizar

Protesting Unemployment on Quebec's North Shore
Workers Demand Work 

In Memorium

Byungho Yoon

With deepest sorrow, the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) informs you of the death of Comrade Byungho Yoon, a member of our Party, a Korean patriot and a member of the Party's cultural organization. We express heartfelt condolences to his wife Sunbin, children Soonkwon, David and Hee Joo, his family members, comrades, compatriots and friends. Comrade Yoon's revolutionary spirit and devotion to human enlightenment and progress imbued all those who were most fortunate to know him. His devotion to the cause of Korean reunification, love of music and fidelity to the high road of civilization lit up his eyes and beautiful smile.

Comrade Yoon was born in Jung Up village in the south of Korea in 1936. During the Korean War he joined the Youth Partisans to defeat the U.S. imperialists and their allies. Subsequently captured and taken prisoner, a friendly south Korean military official managed to intervene and save his life.

During the Korean War, he joined the south Korean military band and also learned to play the violin. After the war, he became an accomplished musician and a pioneer of classical music in south Korea who performed in concerts from 1960-1990 and recorded thousands of pieces for south Korean TV and radio. He was also a teacher and interpreter of classical Korean and Western music.

In 1991, Comrade Yoon, his wife and two children moved to Canada where he continued his life as a musician and composer and became a member of the York Symphonic Orchestra.

Complementing his life as a professional musician, Comrade Yoon was active in the Korean Reunification Movement, were he spared no effort to unite his compatriots and fellow Canadians to oppose the division of the Korean nation and the separation of Korean families. He never conciliated with the fact that his homeland was divided in 1945 by the U.S. imperialists and condemned the great hardship this has caused the Korean people to this day. He devoted his life to opposing the U.S. domination of south Korea and to achieve the peaceful, independent reunification of his homeland. His greatest joy was to visit the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in 1994, along with his two children, as well as in 2005.

An active member of the Korea Truth Commission, Comrade Yoon participated in the KTC's International War Crimes Tribunal in New York City on June 23-24, 2001 as a proud member of the Canadian delegation.

Comrade Yoon died after suffering a series of strokes from which he fought valiantly to recover. His illness took him from us at 2:00 am on July 7. A funeral service will take place on July 10 at R.S. Kane Funeral Home, 6150 Yonge Street, Toronto at 7:30 pm.

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Canada's Resources Should Benefit the People

U.S. Mining Monopoly Exports Its Crisis to Canada

Hamilton steelworkers have identified how U.S. Steel is exporting the crisis in the U.S. to Canada and how this kind of nation-wrecking is part of a general trend. The equity crisis currently gripping Cleveland, Ohio-based Cliffs Natural Resources and the repercussions this crisis has for the Canadian economy is another example of the nation-wrecking which results from the U.S. crisis being exported to Canada.

One of the features of the current capital markets in the U.S. is the frequency of organized predatory attacks by groups of financial speculators on productive enterprises, usually with the aim of dismembering the enterprise and selling off the parts in the name of "releasing shareholder value." Cliffs Natural Resources is currently facing a crisis due to such an attack by a group of New York financial speculators organized as the Casablanca Capital hedge fund.

In January, Casablanca announced that it had captured a significant ownership position in Cliffs (5.2 per cent) by buying up Cliffs shares at a low market price. Casablanca then launched a proxy fight for control of Cliffs. The speculators are betting that a recent round of aggressive global expansion by Cliffs combined with low prices for iron ore on world markets because of price manipulation by rival monopolies has left Cliffs cash-poor and vulnerable to a takeover.

Casablanca's aim is to make a big score by cashing out Cliffs' assets. It wants to make Cliffs' core U.S. assets into a tax-free trust fund and sell off international assets. This inter-monopoly dogfight has been waged through actions and counter-actions involving U.S. securities regulators over the past year and will come to a head at a July shareholders' meeting.

The assets the speculators are targeting include both Cliffs' U.S. iron mining operations, which make up 60 per cent of American iron ore production, important American metallurgical coal resources and international mining resources controlled by Cliffs. The scheme being pushed by the speculator group has specifically targeted Cliffs' Canadian assets for quick sale following a takeover.

Cliffs' Canadian assets include iron ore mining, processing, railway and shipping operations in the Labrador Trough iron fields in north eastern Quebec and western Labrador and undeveloped chromite resources it captured in the Ring of Fire mineralization area on the First Nations' territories in northwestern Ontario. Workers and communities connected to these facilities and resources are already feeling the effect of Cliffs crisis and more economic instability is likely regardless of how the Casablanca-Cliffs conflict is resolved.

The immediate response of Cliffs to its equity and cash crisis has been to protect core assets in the U.S. with cuts in Canada. In this way, the crisis in the U.S. capital markets is being exported to the Canadian mining and metallurgy sector. Since the takeover fight broke out, Cliffs has been trying to conserve cash by cutting the production, mine development and exploration activities it controls in Canada. During the past year it has announced the following cuts to fend off the Casablanca attack:

- closing the Wabush Scully Mine and ore concentrator plant in Wabush, Newfoundland resulting in the loss of jobs for 500 mine workers and staff;

- idling the Pointe Noire, Quebec pelletizing plant which processes Wabush iron ore and employs 394 mill workers and staff;

- scaling back the $1.5 billion development plan for the Bloom Lake Mine near Fermont, Quebec;

- suspending exploration work on the chromite resources in Ontario's Ring of Fire and freezing development of a previously announced $3 billion chromite mining/refining project in the region.

These production facilities and resources are located in remote areas and Cliffs cutbacks are devastating for the isolated communities involved. Production and development shutdowns in the Labrador Trough are resulting not only in hundreds of mining workers losing their jobs but also in loss of work for construction workers, railway workers and port workers connected to the mining operations and loss of work for employees of local enterprises providing services to mines and mining workers.

Construction workers laid off from the Bloom Lake iron ore mine near Fermont, QC await to be flown out of Wabush, NL, November 19, 2012, after Cliffs Natural Resources idled its expansion of Bloom Lake, citing weak iron ore prices.

The pullback of Cliffs on its Canadian operations follows a period of rapid expansion into the Canadian resource sector. Using the profits it reaped from the American government's imposition of steel tariffs, Cliffs had launched a strategy of aggressively competing with Glencore Xstrata, BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and other global mining monopolies for resource markets in China, India and elsewhere. Acquisitions in the Canadian mining and metallurgical sector were an important part of this strategy. They include:

- The Wabush Scully Mine, Pointe Noire refining plant and related railway properties were acquired by Cliffs in 2010. Cliffs bought out its senior partners in these operations, U.S. Steel (formerly Stelco) and ArcelorMittal (formerly Dofasco).

- In 2010, Cliffs paid $500 million to buy out mineral rights claims of exploration companies which had discovered chromite and other minerals in Ontario's Ring of Fire region. The next year Cliffs announced a $3.3 billion plan for creating a chromite mine and refining operation in Northern Ontario.

- In 2011, Cliffs bought out Consolidated Thompson Mining for $4.9 billion, giving Cliffs control of Thompson's huge Bloom Lake iron ore mine and related railways. Cliffs began work on a $1.5 expansion of the Bloom Lake mine.

The federal, Ontario and Quebec governments all hailed Canadian expansion by Cliffs as affirmation of their schemes for making Canada and Quebec a paradise for international investment in resource extraction. Governments have provided and promised hundreds of millions of dollars in public funds to finance rail, ports and electric power to service Cliffs' projects. This has all been presented as modern day nation-building. But what kind of "nation-building" is it that is based on crisis-ridden monopolies? The recent developments around Cliffs' equity crisis and the way it has been exported to Canada have shown again that such nation-building quickly turns into nation-wrecking.

Whose Resources? Our Resources! Who Decides? We Decide!

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Who Uses Chromite and Other Strategic Minerals

Cliffs Natural Resources' Canadian assets include undeveloped chromite resources it captured in the Ring of Fire mineralization area on the First Nations territories in north western Ontario. During the past year, to fend off an attack by a group of New York financial speculators organized as the Casablanca Capital hedge fund, Cliffs announced it would suspend exploration work for these chromite resources and freeze the development of a previously announced $3 billion chromite mining/refining project in the region. This will clash with the strategic interests of the United States which is competing with China for chromite, the ore for the metal chromium which is used to produce stainless steel needed for arms production, amongst other things.

A paper issued by the Centre for Strategic Leadership of the U.S. Army War College on July 2011, entitled "Strategic Minerals: Is China's Consumption a Threat to United States Security?" noted:

"The vitality of a powerful nation depends upon its ability to secure access to the strategic resources necessary to sustain its economy and produce effective weapons for defence. This is especially true for the world's two largest economies, those of the United States and China, which are similarly import dependent on around half of their petroleum imports and a large quantities of their strategic mineral." It also noted that "China's geopolitical strategy to secure strategic resources has increased Western security community concern over strategic minerals to its highest point since the end of the Cold War."

The paper goes on to say that while 60 per cent of the U.S. supply of petroleum is imported, it is dependent on 80 per cent of its supply of strategic minerals to sustain its "economy and defence sector." The authors note that while there are substitutes for petroleum, there are no substitutes for strategic minerals such as manganese for the production of steel, or chromium for the production of stainless steel.

With reference to the Second World War, the authors note that the "U.S. decision to embargo petroleum and scrap metal to Japan played a major role in Japan's entry into World War Two. Germany's lack of resource rich colonies and limited domestic resources underpinned Hitler's expansionist strategy and quest for lebensraum." They make particular reference to Hitler's Minister of Industry, Albert Speer, who spoke about the importance of chromium to feed the Nazi war machine, and that the sudden loss of supplies of Turkish chromium would bring Hitler's war to a close very quickly.

The authors point out that today, the "ongoing purchase of new high-tech weapon platforms and the need to replace legacy weapons systems worn out by the recent war is placing a premium on strategic mineral imports at a time when the price of all minerals has risen dramatically, and China is rising as new peer competitor." The authors view with alarm the rise of China as a power which is challenging U.S. dominance in the world and whose expanding economy and people's needs and diminishing natural resources is forcing it to move aggressively to purchase control of mineral concessions and mining companies around the world, including in Canada.

The paper notes that in 2008, because of its trade surplus with the U.S. and with U.S.$3 trillion dollars in foreign exchange reserves, China was able to offer $19.5 billion to acquire a stake in Rio Tinto, the second largest mineral producing company in the world. And while that bid was blocked by the U.S. and Australia, it is acknowledged that China has succeeded in many other cases, including in mineral rich southern Africa concluding long-term agreements with South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo and other countries. It is also noted that China has acquired Canadian mineral and fuel assets.

In light of these developments and China's emergence as a power to challenge the U.S., the paper cites and underscores the main thesis of the 1952 Paley Commission Report which was commissioned by President Truman in the height of the Cold War and particularly the time of the Korean War, aimed at creating a "national materials policy." The report, Resources for Freedom: Foundations for Growth and Security, outlined some proposals by which the U.S. could secure its material resources and proposed the creating of the Resources for the Future (RFF) as an permanent organization to study the resources needs of the country. It said that in conditions of war and peace the U.S. would "ensure an adequate and dependable flow of materials at the lowest cost consistent with the welfare of friendly nations."

Citing this report, the authors of this paper issued by the Center of Strategic Leadership of the U.S. War College make particular note of the need for the U.S. to include "strategic and critical materials availability as an objective in the next National Security Strategy." They must also make "strategic mineral producing countries a high priority for diplomatic and development strategies; engage Africa in a more positive, practical way that recognizes African realities" as well as to promote "the development of additional strategic mineral deposits in the world."

What is clear in this paper is that while China is taking political and economic measures to secure its future, the U.S. is looking at China as a threat to its security. How does this jive with the fight to take over and liquidate Cliffs Natural Resources' assets to make a huge score? The securing and supply of strategic minerals, such as chromite is vital to U.S. imperialist geo-political interests which includes the threat of war against China and any country which challenges the U.S. dictate around the world. The fact that this particular paper references the Nazis and the Japanese militarists who were part of the Axis powers and justifies their crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity on the basis of the lack of strategic minerals, bodes ill for humanity. It underscores the need in Canada to organize for an anti-war government that will stand against U.S. imperialist war and aggression around the world and stand for peaceful relations between nations and peoples.

(With files from USAWC/CSL: http://www.cls.army.mil)

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Ongoing Wrecking of Manufacturing

Unacceptable Government Intervention in Heinz Scam to Defraud Workers

On June 27, Heinz ended its more than 100 years of food processing operations in Leamington, Ontario, throwing more than 700 workers onto the street. It was recently reported that some of these workers will now have the "opportunity" to re-apply for lower paying jobs in an arrangement that appears to have been brokered by the Ontario government. This is a fraudulent deal whereby Heinz carries on production with a partner in a manner that permits it to get rid of all its obligations to its workforce. It is an outright scam which should be declared illegal.

The closure of Heinz was initially announced on November 14, 2013 by its monopoly owners, U.S. billionaire Warren Buffett-controlled Berkshire Hathaway Group and New York-based 3G Capital investment group. Soon thereafter, the provincial and then local governments presented the people with an option they said would save their community. It was to try and find another buyer or group of investors to keep the place running, albeit at reduced capacity and with workers accepting voluntarily to open up their collective agreement in order to "save their jobs." At the same time municipal workers were told that they had better agree to open their collective agreement to accept concessions as a result of the impending loss of tax revenue from Heinz -- which they refused to do.

At no point did the provincial or federal governments intervene to defend the community against the monopoly wrecking and force Heinz to negotiate a mutually beneficial agreement which would sustain the equilibrium that had been built up in Leamington and the surrounding area during the past 105 years. At no point did any level of government say No! to Heinz's new owners' wrecking and hostile actions towards Canadians and use their executive powers to enact legislation or regulations to hold Heinz and its owners to account. Instead, various levels of government justified it as a "private business matter" and publicly begged that Heinz sit down and let Ontario in particular make an offer to keep the plant running. One local politician with direct ties to the highest levels of the Liberal government declared that the Ontario government has deep pockets, implying that Heinz just had to make the right moves to receive funding. This came in response to news that Heinz was investing funds in a facility in Ohio at the same time it was closing the Leamington plant.

However, the latest news makes it clear that Heinz still wants Ontario's tomatoes and advanced processing capacity; it just wants them more cheaply by stealing a large chunk of the workers' wages and benefits and shafting local farmers. After the announced closure, a newly created company made up of a group of investors began negotiations with Heinz to take over the operation. A deal was recently finalized by the two entities and it is said that production will now continue at the plant. As Heinz closed, the new owners, Canco Highbury are setting up a "co-packing operation," manufacturing and packaging many of the same products Heinz processed, other than ketchup. Five hundred workers will lose their jobs, with the "new" workforce to be 250, expected to work for $9 less per hour if they want to be "re-hired."These workers will be paid from $15 per hour for a production worker to $24 for skilled trades, down from $24 and $29 per hour respectively paid prior to the closure.

In its heyday in the 1980s Heinz had around 2,200 employees. By 2009, production was cut back as 30 per cent of it was shifted to U.S. plants.

The workers' union president Rob Crawford says the worst is yet to come when severance pay runs out next spring and many are still jobless. "We're just trying to make the best of a bad situation," he told the Windsor Star.

Instead of 43 farmers contracted to supply tomatoes to the plant, now there are only 10. Highbury Canco has reportedly signed a 2014 tomato agreement that ensures the company will pay its tomato growers the same price as those deals reached with all other Ontario tomato processors.

The new arrangement will see Leamington tomatoes and processed products sold back to Heinz. In other words, Heinz still gets tomatoes, a highly skilled workforce, and processed food to sell in Canada, the U.S. and internationally, but the workers get far less wages and benefits. Pensions are also at risk yet not much has been said about this. Highbury Canco has a one-year lease on the premises and is expecting to come back for further government concessions under the hoax of saving jobs so long as the workers achieve "efficiencies" by "managing costs." According to reports, what is happening in Leamington is not new for Heinz. It did a similar thing selling two plants in Europe to "co-packers."

The whole arrangement has been presented to the workers and community as a "lesser of two evils." In an interview with a columnist from the Windsor Star for a story titled "Contracting Out Never Looked So Good," one of Highbury Canco's investors Pradeep Sood, stated: "Outsourcing is a way for many companies now." "Outsourcing in a global economy has become something very important," she added.

Eric Hoskins, Provincial Minister of Economic Development at the time, said the arrangement was "a testament to the world-class agrifood industry in Leamington."

Mayor of Leamington John Paterson stated: "Psychologically, it has been a big change for a lot of us, some of the employees have been there their entire adult life and this is an emotional time for them. But for the most part, we've had since November [when the closure was announced] to deal with the loss. And now we've had the uplifting news of a company coming in and at least grabbing hold of a part of the lines, which gives us something to look forward to."

In this way governments are totally let off the hook for not doing anything to intervene to block these attacks on the people of Canada and their economy. Instead of standing up for the community against the wrecking of manufacturing at the hands of the monopoly and its agents in Highbury Canco, the Ontario government put $200,000 towards "transitioning" workers in Leamington, and is likely involved in various schemes that amount to paying not only their bedfellows, Highbury Canco, but Heinz's owners as well. Highbury Canco's purchase of the Heinz plant was touted as a local success story at the recent annual general meeting of the Windsor-Essex Development Corporation by its CEO and former Ontario Minister of Economic Development Sandra Pupatello.

The City of Leamington intervened with MPAC to expedite and lower the property's assessment so that about $600,000 less in taxes will come to the city from the new owners than from Heinz which paid over $1 million. Whether this was demanded by the company and government in order to "help" the deal remains to be seen. The company reportedly also got a break on utility rates from the municipality.

Referring to his purchase and then closure of Heinz, Warren Buffett said it was about getting rid of an unprofitable plant and concentrating production in a more profitable one. Like you see in auto, he said.

For the rich and their servants in government, committing fraud and robbery is all business as usual. It must not pass!

(With files from Windsor Star, CBC, Better Farming)

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Protesting Unemployment on Quebec's North Shore

Workers Demand Work

In May and June, workers from the North Shore in Quebec held a series of demonstrations to demand that jobs be available to workers from the region. On May 9, they demonstrated in Baie-Comeau, Sept-Iles and Havre-Saint-Pierre. On June 20, more than 1,000 workers demonstrated in four different cities -- Baie-Comeau, Sept-Iles, Havre-Saint-Pierre and Forestville. Workers are demonstrating because very few regional jobs are available, particularly in the construction and mining industries. More often than not, construction companies arrive in the region with their own workers who come from every region in Quebec and therefore hire very few local workers. The mining industries bring in a number of workers from all over with their "fly-in fly-out" scheme and do not hire workers from the region either. Workers live in camps and very rarely even come into the cities. North Shore workers are demanding that more workers from the region be hired in the main economic industries.

The demonstrations have a sense of immediacy since construction work is at its peak at this time of year, notably at Hydro-Québec's giant Romaine hydropower complex with its close to 2,000 workers. If regional workers are not hired, they will be without work for the whole summer and will not accumulate the number of work hours needed to be eligible for Employment Insurance when the slow season comes around. Many workers have been without any form of income for months since they have been on EI for some time and have reached the end of their benefits. Workers participating in the demonstrations have reported that a number of construction workers now find themselves on social welfare because they have no other choice. "Enough is enough. We must save our communities. If we don't act now, the whole social fabric will be affected, we will no longer be able to even afford basic services. This is a definite distress call," said a worker in Baie-Comeau on May 9.

Action by construction workers and their supporters in Sept-Iles to demand jobs, June 20, 2014.

Employment on North Shore Rapidly Deteriorating

From January 2013 to January 2014 the level of unemploymenton the North Shore rose by two per cent to reach 8.4 per cent. In May 2014, the level of unemployment was at 9.4 per cent. The situation has become even worse for workers and their communities in light of the Couillard Liberals' Northern Plan and its "mining boom." The cost of living is sky high in the North Shore. Very little housing is available and whatever is available is not affordable. Food prices have rocketed. High unemployment and low income along with an inflated cost of living have combined to create an unbearable situation which needs to be addressed now, say the workers.

"In spite of all this, municipal taxes have to be paid, we have to try to keep our businesses open," said Réginald Poirier, union spokesperson for FTQ-Construction Locals 9 and 2366, to TML. "We are losing our businesses because companies coming from outside bring their own workers along with them, they bring their own food and other basic materials. Construction supplies are not even bought here. How is it possible for the North Shore to live decently? We could make a very decent living in light of all the work that should be available."

Workers are demanding that immediate measures be taken by the Quebec government to encourage the hiring of regional workers. In early 2014, a North Shore Regional Committee was set up to deal with the workforce in the industrial and construction sectors. This committee, made up of government, business and union representatives as well as spokespersons from the muncipalities, Hydro-Québec and Members of Parliament, submitted its report to the Quebec government in May. It put forward a number of recommendations, one of them being that the Quebec Construction Commission (CCQ), on a daily basis, make available to all employers the number of construction workers available on the North Shore. The setting up of such a Regional Committee was seen as a positive step by the workers but they definitely don't want things to drag on. They want the Couillard government to take immediate measures to make jobs available to workers from the region itself. Specifically, they want changes to Act R-20, An Act Respecting Labour Relations, Vocational Training, and Workforce Management in the Construction Industry, which regulates labour mobility. The Act suggests that employers should prioritize the hiring of workers from a given region for construction projects but does not make it mandatory. Workers want to make it mandatory and that the necessary changes be made immediately. They are tired of being told by government that such amendments or changes to present regulations that would be beneficial to them and to their communities are complex issues and can only be done over a certain period of time.

"It would be a no-brainer for government to tell employers to hire people from the regional workforce and then from whatever region it desires," says Réginald Poirier. "When they speak of certain laws as being untouchable, it is only to avoid offending their money-lenders. Whenever governments want to give us trouble, they pass whatever law they want, whenever they want. But when it comes to helping us out, that is another matter altogether."

Forestville, June 20, 2014

Following the workers' demonstrations and the report submitted by the Regional Committee, the Liberal government set up an Inter-Ministerial Committee to work towards the hiring of a regional workforce. Once more workers sent a clear message that they want immediate changes which will improve their situation now.

Workers say that employers prefer providing their own workforce for various projects because it's easier of them to exert pressure on these workers because they are isolated and it is easier to force them to work in substandard conditions. It is also easier for the employer to force workers to accept working overtime as regular time. When a worker is injured on the job, they can easily be threatened with being sent back home should they report their injuries. Health and safety representatives have reported that certain companies are forcing workers to pay their own plane fare if they have to go to Montreal to tend to an injury, which goes against health and safety regulations.

"I have absolutely no qualms with workers from other regions," says Poirier. "They are workers like us and they want to make a living just as we do. But when an employer tells a worker that he is going to work in such and such a region and that on top of that, he'll have to keep his mouth shut, this is simply not right. It is easy to say that a worker from the region is not up to par, or to declare our workers incompetent because the employer simply does not like them or because he does not like that they are standing up for their rights. And that is what we workers from the North Shore are doing, claiming our rights, nothing more."

Workers participating in the demonstration have affirmed that the struggle for work in their region and for a dignified and stable life will carry on.

(Photos: Metallos, FTQ-Construction)

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