January 24, 2019
Close Oshawa Auto Plant
Windsor rally January 11, 2019, against closing of GM plant in
held across the river from GM's Detroit headquarters.
Fraudulent Talk About Canada
Rule of Law
the Post Office
• Postal Workers Continue the Fight
Rights - Louis Lang
Continue Fight for Rights
• Workers Mark First Anniversary of
Aluminum Smelter Lockout
• Crane Operators, Allies and
Experts All Say No! to Irresponsible New
GM Threat to Close Oshawa Auto
Windsor rally against GM's closure of Oshawa plant, January 11,
GM's announced intention to close its Oshawa
Plant effectively breaks the contract it signed with Unifor
in 2016. The contract committed GM not to close any Canadian
before the agreement expires in September 2020. The
this has aroused and the calls to hold GM to account are
up anti-Mexico sentiments as a way to expose GM's greed, which
door to divide workers on a racist basis, is not warranted.
GM was bailed out with
public funds to the tune of almost $11 billion dollars when
filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009. The public money
GM was diverted from necessary services and social programs such
health care and education. To pour salt in the wound inflicted on
Canadians, the federal and Ontario
governments made the bailout conditional on workers and retirees
significant concessions to those who own and control GM.
Ontario government had already allowed GM and other large
such as Stelco the right not to sustain workers' pension funds at
proper level. The government and big companies based this
anti-social action on the fraudulent claim of being too big to
Yet here was GM declaring bankruptcy and Stelco doing it more
putting retirees' pensions at risk.
Even though GM declares healthy profits, it
pay back $1.6 billion of the loan it received from the
Conservative Harper and Liberal McGuinty governments at the time
pay-the-rich bailouts. A December article in the Detroit Free
quotes Unifor President Jerry Dias citing an even higher amount,
still owes Canada $2.8 billion as repayment for the bailout.
official has explained why GM was not forced to pay back all the
funds despite making record profits for its private
CBC reported last October that an outstanding
more than $1 billion to GM Corp., originally made on
April 29, 2009, appears on Export Development Canada's
Account transactions. That amount does not include the interest
would have accrued over the almost ten years it has been on the
Why has the government not called in this debt especially after
announced its intention to break its agreement with Unifor and
commitment to Oshawa and Canadians not to close the Oshawa plant?
using the threatened closure of its Oshawa plant as leverage to
the Trudeau government write off the remainder of the debt,
similar to the $2.6 billion Chrysler debt to Canada silently
written off last year?
Whatever the case, GM
defrauded the workers and Canadians with the connivance of both
federal and provincial governments and this must not stand!
must now intervene in a manner that favours the workers, their
communities and Canadians. For example, if GM proceeds to close
plant as threatened, the government
could call in GM's outstanding loan and use the money to keep the
Oshawa plant producing until a longer term solution such as
owners could be found. To begin this process, the government
a lien against GM's Oshawa facility for the amount of the
loan. If GM refuses to change its course, it should pay a price.
That is only just.
Within the situation, the workers at the Oshawa
and those at the many suppliers of material and parts should
their own demands that favour them and not wait and see what the
of plague will impose as an alleged solution.
Workers shut down lines at Oshawa plant after GM confirms its
to close the plant in a January 8, 2019 meeting with union
representatives in Detroit.
The Trudeau government makes much ado about Canada
a "rule of law country." The argument has been made a lot lately
defence of Canada's arbitrary arrest of a Chinese executive of
Huawei Company at the behest of the United States. The government
also used it to justify Canada's ongoing sales of military
Saudi Arabia based on a contract having been signed with that
and General Dynamics that could not be broken.
However, the rule of
logic does not apply in the government's dealing with the auto
monopolies. Many see a double standard. GM stands accused of
several written and unwritten agreements, throwing workers' lives
their communities into turmoil, abandoning perfectly good means
production, and refusing to return billions
of dollars in public money given to it allegedly to avoid its
Yet, the governments of Canada and Ontario stand aloof, declaring
trashing of contracts is a private business decision.
Are Canadians to accept that the rule of law is a
weapon to be used selectively to hammer those standing up for
rights such as Indigenous land defenders and workers on strike
postal workers, or to legitimize the arrest of an executive of a
Chinese company on spurious grounds that the U.S. demands it?
self-serving use of the
rule of law to serve powerful interests throws the entire concept
the rule of law into contempt.
If governments refuse to intervene in public
a manner that favours the people, and specifically in the case of
hold it accountable for its practices, Canadians should make sure
boycott those political parties that allow this to happen. The
should refuse to vote for either the Liberals or Conservatives
taken part in selling out autoworkers and refuse to hold GM to
and defend the rights of Canadian workers and our collective
The NDP government of Bob Rae was infamous for introducing
holidays for companies like GM which it declared "too big to
is high time workers select candidates for election who represent
not the rich, and turn things around in their favour.
Imposed Arbitration at the Post
Windsor picket by postal workers and their allies, January 16,
forced arbitration begins.
The government-imposed arbitration process at
Post began on January 16. The Liberal government's Postal Services Resumption and
Continuation Act denies
postal workers their right to strike to reach an agreement with
Post acceptable to themselves.
A bulletin from the
Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) explains it planned to
first day of arbitration to determine the issues still in dispute
the process to be followed by arbitrator Elizabeth
The legislation gives the Minister of Labour
to determine the remaining issues in contention but the Minister
to transfer this authority to the arbitrator. The type of
process to be followed also has to be decided. The legislation
two types of arbitration processes: conventional interest
and final offer
The union has declared that it will participate
arbitration process on a "without prejudice basis subject to any
challenges or court rulings on the back to work legislation."
filed a constitutional challenge with the Ontario Superior Court
December 11, 2018 claiming Postal
Act violates the right of
the union to free
collective bargaining under the Charter
Cavaluzzo, a constitutional lawyer representing CUPW stated at
time, "The Liberal Government's legislation just like the
Conservative law in 2011, unilaterally prohibits any lawful
On November 27, 2018, after five weeks
rotating strikes, the Postal
Resumption and Continuation Act forced postal workers to
under their previous collective agreement. Facing heavy fines
individual workers and the union, workers returned to work
their serious concerns having being addressed.
The mediation process
imposed by the Postal Services
Resumption and Continuation Act also failed to resolve any
issues and ended on December 17, 2018.
The union estimates that from the day the federal
Liberal government forced postal workers to return to work
new collective agreement to address the outstanding
disabling injuries have occurred, Rural and Suburban Mail
(RSMCs) have worked approximately 439,000 hours without pay,
workers have worked thousands of hours of forced overtime.
The union declares that postal workers will not
fighting until the important issues confronting them are resolved
their satisfaction: health and safety, full-time secure
equality for RSMCs must be addressed immediately.
Quebec Workers Continue Fight for
Mass picket as Bécancour aluminum smelter workers mark one
anniversary of lockout.
Bécancour aluminum smelter workers,
Quebec workers, marked the first anniversary of the ABI lockout
militant actions in defence of locked out workers and the dignity
labour. Hundreds of workers hailing from various regions,
important contingent of workers from Sanguenay-Lac-Saint Jean,
picket lines and then demonstrated outside the constituency
the local member of the National Assembly for
Demonstration outside the constituency office of the National
They reiterated their two demands: that the
directly with company officials and demand that they return to
table to negotiate a collective agreement acceptable to the
that the government re-open its energy agreement with Alcoa by
of which the lockout is considered a "force majeure" that frees
Tinto cartel from paying for the block of hydro-electricity
for it and from paying fines when that energy is not used.
demanding that the clause be annulled. They point out that the
agreement is one of the reasons why the company's owners not only
refuse to negotiate with them, but are getting Quebeckers to pay
lockout, while Hydro-Québec and Quebec are deprived of
"There was little
separation between the parties last January when the dispute
The gap has widened since then and more than 1,000 families
suffered for an entire year due to the greed of a multinational,"
Clément Masse, President of United Steelworkers
that represents the ABI workers, at the
rally outside the constituency office. "We need the government to
out of its pseudo-neutrality and restore some balance to this
ABI is abusing the process and keeping hundreds of families in a
of insecurity, with the complicit silence of the Quebec
Workers note that so-called government assistance
the negotiation process, such as with mediation, the mediation
and now the working group which the Minister of Labour is
set up, is a figment of the government's imagination, as the
company owners has the utmost contempt for such arrangements. On
December 19, 2018, two days before the negotiation
set by the Minister of Labour, the company owners announced the
shutdown of half of the pot lines still in operation at the
demonstrating that they do not recognize that negotiation
Restarting those pot lines is a long and costly process and
to negotiate would not behave in such a manner.
The Minister's latest invention is the
a working group which would use the ministry's resources as
for the parties to reach a negotiated settlement. The Minister
explain how one supports a party which refuses to budge and only
recognizes its own dictate.
Meanwhile, workers are exposing the difficulties
are experiencing, despite United Steelworkers union allocations
extraordinary support, including financial, they are receiving
workers in Quebec, Canada and elsewhere. They are also reporting
difficulties being created for the local economy, such as jobs
suppliers, loss of revenue by merchants, and the Mayor of
Bécancour noting that approximately 14 per cent of
municipality's budget comes from tax revenue provided by the
Workers face difficulties in maintaining their stand that they
go back to work with their heads held high, through a
acceptable to them. That stand is in everyone's interest, as
opposition to dictate and insistence on having a decisive say
decision-making, insecurity for workers and for all would be
In that respect, ABI workers are intensifying
work to mobilize the organized support of workers in Quebec and
as well as elsewhere. At the end of 2018, more than 300
locals in Quebec, Canada, the U.S. and Australia were sending
assistance to ABI workers in support of their struggle and that
mobilization is being stepped up.
Workers are turning their attention towards ABI,
this struggle is everyone's struggle, for their rights as well as
Crane operators demonstrate against changes to regulations on
May 5, 2018.
Between December 17-19, 2018, three days
hearings were held by the committee set up by the Quebec
look into the impact on
health and safety of regulatory changes to the training of crane
operators in Quebec.
The hearings, set up by the previous Couillard
government, came as a result of the courageous actions by crane
operators to oppose a new anti-worker regulation imposed by the
Construction Commission (CCQ) and the Quebec government, which
threat to safety.
Following their many
actions and denunciations, crane workers refused to show up for
during an entire week last June, demanding nothing less than the
complete withdrawal of the new regulation. They did so because
it as a serious erosion, both in terms of quantity as well as
of the training formerly required by workers
to become crane operators. The government, at the request of the
had abolished the obligatory 870 hours of training required
obtaining a Diploma of Vocational Studies (DVS). The DVS is now
optional, and new direct training of 150 hours has been
introduced, now provided on site and under the responsibility of
The CCQ and the government have also created an 80-hour
the operation of boom trucks with a maximum capacity of 30
following which the worker who successfully completes the
becomes a qualified driver of such trucks. It is precisely that
crane that overturns the most frequently and causes the
most damage. Crane operators are facing repressive measures such
decision by the Administrative Labour Tribunal declaring they
participated in an illegal strike, while the CCQ continues to
to take action against them for the illegal strike as well as for
intimidation. The courageous position of the crane operators has
support of the vast majority of workers as well as the population
is within that context that the committee was set up.
At the December hearings, those who intervened
the crane operators' union, which represents the vast majority of
Quebec's crane operators; the crane operators' collective;
unions; the school that provides the vocational training for
operators; the union representing those who teach the training
construction companies; as well as crane operation health and
experts. Intervenors were given 25 minutes to present their
with their submissions being followed by a 30-minute
The great majority of intervenors were of the
that the new regulation has to be completely overhauled and that
compulsory crane operator vocational training must be maintained.
opposed the new regulation as a violation of safety standards and
particular raised the need for the adequate training of crane
is central to
the safety of not only crane operators, but other workers and the
public at large. They specifically referred back to the Canadian
Standards Association's Z 150 standard that all Quebec crane
workers are subject to. The standard specifies the safety
relating to mobile cranes to ensure the safety of workers and the
public and serves
as a guide to manufacturers and those who purchase cranes, as
construction companies and governments and regulatory bodies, so
the safety standards established through the Z 150 code are
Notably, the code specifies that mobile cranes
operated exclusively by qualified persons and that the mandatory
qualifications of crane operators must include the relevant
and experience for their proper operation, as well as overall
of crane construction, along with sufficient knowledge of
Those who intervened noted that the new regulation clearly does
uphold any of this.
Only two associations representing construction
companies supported the new regulation. One of them was
indeed. It argued that it was better to have the new regulation
training in place than to have no regulation or training at all.
added that many construction
companies purchase boom trucks and have them operated by
workers, which is clearly illegal. It should be noted that the
taken no legal or other action to put an end to this illegal
The representatives of that association now claim that this will
legal as there will be training, never mind that the workers do
consider it adequate or vocational, despite the fact that boom
precisely those that overturn so easily and are used in zones
public circulates most often.
Crane operators are determined to have their two
demands met: that the new regulation be withdrawn and obligatory
operator training be maintained and that a roundtable be created
includes all concerned parties, including teachers, to look into
problems linked to the crane operator sector and construction
The committee will now be holding in
meetings with various parties and must submit its report to the
Minister of Labour by February 28.
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