Striking workers at the St. Albert Post Office returned to work this morning (Friday) after being ordered to end their wildcat walkout by the Canadian Industrial Relations Board (CIRB).
The Rural and Suburban Mail Carriers (RSMCs) began a wildcat strike on Tuesday to protest arbitrary cuts to their wages that were imposed by Canada Post. Word spread quickly across the country and letters of support in solidarity streamed in from citizens and trade-union organizations.
Officials with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) will meet with Canada Post today to try to resolve any remaining issues that triggered the strike at the distribution centre in St. Albert.
Bev Ray, president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) Local 730 in Edmonton, apologized for any inconvenience caused by this service disruption. “We hope that customers understand how important it was for these workers to take this action to protect their livelihoods and the future of their families,” she said.
About 15 RSMCs walked off the job after being told, without advance notice, that the parcel rate that determines their pay for parcels they deliver was being cut. The carriers, who use their own vehicles and pay for their own insurance to deliver the mail, get paid by an averaged rate of mail delivered, so a cut in parcel rate means a cut in pay that could come to thousands of dollars per year even though they still have to deliver the same amount of parcels.
For more information contact Bev Ray, President @ 780) 423-9000, ext. 223 or (780) 719-4555 [email protected]
Swazi police fired tear gas to disperse activists who held anti-government protests for a second day on Wednesday, despite a call to stop the action after a police crackdown.
Union leaders said they had suspended their protest against King Mswati III, Africa's last absolute monarch, to re-strategize as fresh arrests and a heavy police presence in the main city blocked activists from rallying.
Hundreds of teachers at first refused to end the protest, and police fired tear gas to remove them from an office where they were staging a sit-in. But the standoff ended after several hours, said Muzi Masuku, a spokesman for the Open Society non-governmental organization, which helped mediate in the crisis.
Masuku said police eventually agreed to let the teachers' trade union transport them either to their homes or to a church in Manzini where they would spend the night.
The protesters want the free-spending king to loosen his grip on power and allow multi-party democracy, and are also angry at government proposals to slash salaries for civil servants amid a severe budget crisis.
Unions called for the protests Tuesday to mark the 38th anniversary of the banning of political parties in a country where 70 per cent of the people live in dire poverty and 25 per cent of adults have HIV, the world's highest rate. On Tuesday, police also fired tear gas and water cannons, beat protesters with batons and arrested activists to break up the protest, according to organizers. At least 100 people were detained, including top labour and civil society leaders, unions said.
"The state has responded with extreme brutality and people feel unsafe. Many of our people are in police cells," said Vincent Dlamini, general secretary of the National Association of Public Servants and Allied Workers Union.
But most top union leaders who had been detained have since been released, said Dlamini, who was held from Sunday to Tuesday.
Two protest leaders were detained Wednesday, with one held under house arrest, according to Sipho Kunene, leader of the Swaziland Federation of Labour. Police patrolled Manzini Wednesday, arresting people in groups, including four teachers who were speaking to an AFP journalist in a cafe.
Edmonton Journal, Thurs Apr 14 2011
With a tense round of bargaining just under way between the province and its teachers, the B.C. Supreme Court has declared “unconstitutional and invalid” a law that has restricted teachers’ bargaining rights for more than nine years.
The B.C. Liberal government imposed legislation in 2002 that took the makeup of classrooms – the total number of students as well as the number of special needs students integrated into each class – out of collective bargaining.The B.C. Teachers’ Federation challenged the law under the Canadian Charter of Rights, arguing those components have a significant impact on their working conditions and should be freely negotiated.
Madam Justice Susan Griffin, in a ruling released Wednesday, sided with the teachers and delivered a rebuke to the province for its vague claims and secretive agenda.
The release of the ruling partly overshadowed Premier Christy Clark’s by-election launch. Ms. Clark, who was education minister when the labour law was introduced, met with reporters to announce she’ll be seeking election in Vancouver-Point Grey on May 11, but questions about the education decision dominated the exchange.
When the law was passed during an emergency session of the legislature in January, 2002, Ms. Clark called it a “really balanced piece of legislation … reasonable and very, very fair.”
On Wednesday, she said the law, at the time, had broad-based support. “But clearly it wasn’t the right bill. The Supreme Court has told us that so we are going to address that, and we’re going to have to make sure we get on a different footing with the teachers’ union, just as the court has suggested.”
It was a rough start for Ms. Clark’s first day of campaigning for a seat in the legislature. Ms. Clark met reporters outside her downtown cabinet offices, rather than making the announcement in the riding that was recently vacated by former premier Gordon Campbell.
In her written decision, Judge Griffin dismissed the government’s claims that the law was needed to counter the “virtual paralysis of the school system.” In fact, the court found the changes were imposed without consultation to curtail costs and that the government’s objectives interfered with free collective bargaining.
Evidence at the trial showed the government expected to save, in 2001 dollars, $275-million each year by taking class size out of the contract. “A key reason that school administrators and the government did not like to have class size and composition limits included in collective agreements,” wrote Judge Griffin, “was the fact that these limits increased costs to school districts.”
As well, the judge described evidence brought forward by the province that class-size limits were causing hardships to students and parents as “vague … anecdotal hearsay.”
The province has one year to respond to the decision and is considering an appeal. But in the meantime, the court has thrown the government’s net zero bargaining mandate for the public sector into question.
The current contract with teachers expires in June and the province maintains there is no money for wage hikes – it hopes to meet its target to eliminate the provincial deficit by 2013, in part by keeping public-sector wages frozen.
Susan Lambert, president of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation, would not speculate on the cost of rolling back the 2002 law, but she said the province has a moral obligation to act swiftly to end the “shameful legacy” of underfunding classrooms in the wake of Wednesday’s ruling.
“It’s a tremendous victory for teachers, and for students and for parents. It’ll have a significant impact on restoring learning conditions in schools,” she said. “This is a turning point.”
She said the law left students struggling in oversized classes with inadequate supports for too long and she expects the provisions that limited class sizes will be restored.
The Globe and Mail, Wed Apr 13 2011
Byline: Justine Hunter and Ian Bailey
Information picket lines have gone up at the Canada Post distribution centre in St. Albert after rural and suburban mail carriers walked off the job.
“Our members are furious over changes introduced without notice that could cost them thousands of dollars per year,” says Bev Ray, president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) Local 730 in Edmonton.
The rural and suburban mail carriers at the distribution centre at 131 - 1 Hebert Road, St. Albert, were given letters by Canada Post yesterday saying that the number of parcels they delivered was being cut.
“There was no discussion with the carriers beforehand. In fact, Canada Post said the new rules came into effect April 11, even though the letters weren’t given to the carriers until April 12,” says Ray.
The carriers, who use their own vehicles and pay for their own insurance to deliver the mail, get paid per piece of mail delivered, so a cut in parcels means a cut in pay that could come to thousands of dollars per year.
“These workers have not had a pay increase for more than two years. To arbitrarily announce measures that will seriously cut their wages is an appalling and inconsiderate move by Canada Post management,” says Ray.
About 15 rural and suburban mail carriers are affected at the St. Albert centre, but CUPW is concerned that similar measures are being planned at other Canada Post facilities across the country.
- 30 -
For more information contact: Bev Ray, President at 780-423-9000 or 780-719-4555
An international campaign for the reinstatement of 50 Mexican rubber workers employed by German-based Continental AG, was successful after 22 months. The illegal dismissals on 18 May 2009 were made under the guise of the global financial crisis. The ICEM-affiliated National Union of General Tire/Continental Workers’ Union (SNTGTM), led by General Secretary Alberto Espinosa Rocha, launched a full mobilisation of the union for their reinstatement and to support each sacked worker who chose to fight for re-employment.
The struggle, termed to “Resist One More Day than Continental,” supported especially the reinstatement of union activists Juan Pablo Hernández Lara and Alfredo Calderón and was won one year, ten months, and ten days after the sackings, when 50 colleagues returned to work at the factory in San Luis Potosí, 430 kilometres north of Mexico City.
The members of SNTGTM, through the decision of the union's Congress to wage the fight, supported every worker contesting dismissal, and the union paid them the minimum wage for a worker in the sector throughout the legal process. That income is low, but the faith and support from fellow members was vital.
The SNTGTM and reinstated workers gave special thanks to the ICEM, International Metalworkers’ Federation (IMF), the United Steelworkers (USW), and the AFL-CIO, for their solidarity and support internationally. The SNTGTM singled out the IGBCE and European Works Council for their important assistance in forcing the struggle onto the agenda of Conti's management meetings.
In recent months, the union has recovered hundreds of jobs and established conditions for increased factory production in Mexico. The SNTGTM is now fighting the proposed regressive labour law in Mexico, which, if enacted, would jeopardize their hard-won achievements.
ICEM.org, Mon Apr 11 2011
Thousands of European trades union members demonstrated against austerity measures as EU finance ministers closed a two-day meeting in Hungary that confirmed Portugal was next in line for tough spending cuts.
Thousands of people marched in Budapest to protest against EU austerity measures on behalf of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) on Saturday, April 9.
ETUC estimated the turnout of European workers at about 40,000. They were in Budapest to protest against EU-driven reforms to cut state spending and to make wages and pensions more competitive, as part of a bid to trim governments' growing deficits.
"We want jobs, growth, our welfare state intact, and we are not going to pay for bankers' mistakes," ETUC general secretary John Monks told the crowd.
The protest came as EU finance ministers and central bankers from the 27-nation bloc gathered for a second day of informal talks on the response to the ongoing eurozone difficulties underlined by Portugal's request for an EU bailout.
As part of the 80 billion-euro ($115-billion) bailout deal, the EU is asking Portugal to commit to further financial reforms in order to bring its budget deficit and debt into more sustainable territory.
The ministers have defended the need for painful austerity measures despite the protests.
"People must understand that we are not making savings to make people angry, we are making savings in order to pay for our social policies," said Luxembourg's Luc Frieden.
Germany's trade minister said that today’s governments have to implement tough measures if they didn’t want to abdicate their "responsibility to future generations."
"What we are doing is to work for a sustainable framework for growth. For sustainable growth, a stable currency is a pre-condition, and [so are] stable budgets," Wolfgang Schäuble told reporters.
Spanish Finance Minister Elena Salgado said it was "normal" for trade unions to protest against budget consolidation measures, "but I think from the governments' [side] what we have to say is that ... they are necessary."
According to European Commission estimates from November, deficits in the EU are expected to fall from 6.8 percent in 2010 to 5.1 percent of gross domestic product in 2011, against an EU-recommended limit of 3 percent.
Author: Stuart Tiffen (dpa, AFP)
Editor: Toma Tasovac
DW-World.De, Sat Mar 9 2011
A study out today shows his proposed two-year budget could mean a direct loss of 51,052 jobs in that state. The study by Innovation Ohio, shows that such job losses would be more than double than the 22,000 jobs created since Kasich took office. This blow to Ohio's economy is in addition to the Kasich-backed bill passed by the Ohio Legislature gutting collective bargaining rights for public employees, a drastic move that limits workers' ability to attain or maintain middle-class jobs.
Innovation Ohio Communications Director Dale Butland puts it this way:
School districts and local governments will, of course, do everything possible to avoid laying people off. But they've already made the easy cuts and pared their budgets dramatically. So when the Governor proposes to cut school funding by $3 billion and local government funding by 50 percent, firing workers or raising local taxes are the only realistic choices they have left. But attacking workers - whether through a job-killing budget or the unfair Senate Bill 5 - will not fix Ohio. It will only destroy the middle class. And that's not what Gov. Kasich was elected to do.
In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker already has racked up quite a record as a job killer, after only a couple months in office. In Florida, where Gov. Rick Scott turned away federal high-speed rail project, costing the state much-needed jobs, his hand-picked department heads are being paid special salaries-unabashed cronyism costing the state's taxpayers a bundle.
AFL-CIO Now Blog, Thurs Apr 7 2011
Byline: Tuyla Connell
Now is a good time to share my answer because workers are gathering in solidarity rallies across the country calling for respect, dignity, and a voice at work. Would Eleanor Roosevelt be supporting the union rights of teachers and nurses, fire fighters and police? The short answer is an empathetic "yes.
One of the most admired women in the world, Eleanor Roosevelt was a member of the Newspaper Guild for over 25 years and a staunch advocate for unions, which she came to view as a "fundamental element of democracy." She believed that everyone had a basic right to a voice at work. She argued for union rights in the public sector, while also campaigning to defeat state right-to-work laws.
But this call had a very personal touch for me. I was born and raised in East Liverpool, along the Ohio River. First the potteries left the valley and then the steelmills shut down. Good union jobs disappeared. The city struggles to survive and now the workers who provide vital services to the citizens and keep the town running are threatened with the loss of a basic human right in the name of yet another crisis they didn't create.
Gov. John Kasich not only proposes to end collective bargaining for public workers, he has shown his disdain for the workers Eleanor Roosevelt so admired by publicly calling the policemen "idiots." My brother was an Ohio State Highway Patrolman. His son is a policeman near Cleveland; not far from where his dad and I grew up. They deserve better. The men and women who protect our lives, teach our children, care for the sick, plow the snow, and keep the cities running deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.
All unions and employers, public and private, need to maintain high standards of responsibility, accountability, and transparency. Taking away the rights of unions, however, is not the answer to the current fiscal problems. As Eleanor Roosevelt argued, we need a system where "All interests shall be equaly considered and concession shall never be expected from one side only." This is not about the money. As President Obama clearly stated, this is an "assault on unions."
Eleanor Roosevelt's belief in labor unions as a critical part of our democratic process began when she was a young debutante volunteering in the tenements on the lower east side of Manhattan, where she first learned about sweatshops. She walked her first picket line in 1926 to support a box makers' strike in New York. As First Lady, she refused to cross a picket line and proudly joined a union in 1936 at the height of the sit down strikes in Michigan, when workers were being attacked and fighting back. She told striking workers in 1941 that she felt it was important that "everyone who was a worker join a labor organization."
In 1945, after FDR's death, she took her belief in democracy at work to the United Nations and the task of framing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Under her guidance, working closely with union leaders, Article 23 declared that everyone, without discrimination, has the right to a decent job, fair working conditions, a living wage, equal pay for equal work, and the right to join a union.
Eleanor Roosevelt gave careful consideration to her positions. President Roosevelt was concerned about public employee unions, although not anti-union as some have suggested. His wife struggled with the issue in her newspaper column after his death, "My Day." In the 1950s, she finally concluded that unionization was necessary because employers in the public sector were little different from those in the private sector, refusing to listen to workers and treat them fairly.
"You cannot just refuse to meet with people," she wrote, "when they want to talk about their basic human rights." For teachers, police, and fire fighters she said that there was no "method of complaint and adjustment that could take the place of collective bargaining with the ultimate possibility of a strike." She told her readers that the striking teachers in 1962 had "no other recourse but to strike to draw attention to the legitimate complaints."
In 1958, as co-chair of a national council established to defeat right-to-work laws in six states, she called on "right-thinking citizens, from all walks of life" to challenge the "predatory and misleading campaigns." When human rights were invoked she called the argument a "calculated and cunning smoke screen to beguile the innocent and unknowing." She took greatest offense when the California ballot language suggested that FDR would support right-to-work laws, responding "The American public understands very well that Franklin Delano Roosevelt would never have supported such a reactionary doctrine."
When asked "Where, after all, do human rights begin?" Eleanor Roosevelt answered "In small places close to home... the neighborhood...the school...the factory, farm or office...unless they have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere." Her voice resonates today in support of workers in Ohio and across the country. Their voices were heard on April 4th. Workers rights are human rights.
American Rights at Work, Wed Apr 6 2011
Posted by: Brigid O'Farrell
The ITUC and the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas (TUCA) are firmly opposed to the bill and are hoping for a new proposal in keeping with the fundamental rights of the ILO and the recommendations of the Committee of Experts on the Applications of Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR). The bill drafted by the PRI does not include the proposal made by trade unions to eradicate the "protection contracts" making it virtually impossible for workers to form free and democratic unions that represent their interests. Proposed amendments to establish a 40-hour week as well as improvements to seniority bonuses and the holiday system were also rejected. "The rejection of these proposed amendments is unacceptable," said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow. "Once again, labour outsourcing, precarious contracts and unfair dismissals are being facilitated."
In a letter to the Mexican authorities, the ITUC urged President Felipe Calderón to take on board the trade unions' proposals and do everything possible to have the PRI bill withdrawn. It is essential that proposed labour reforms be drawn up within the framework of a genuinely tripartite process, including employers, the government and labour representatives, to ensure better protection of workers' human rights and create a legal foundation on which a national strategy can be built for sustainable and effective development.
ITUC-csi.org, Tues Apr 6 2011
Bahrain's unions called a general strike on March 13 to support Shi'ite protesters against the Sunni-led government who for weeks occupied a square in the capital until security forces moved in on March 16. The strike was called off on March 22.
Officials at Batelco, Gulf Air, Bahrain Airport Services and APM Terminals Bahrain said they had laid off more than 200 workers due to absence during the strike.
"It's illegal in Bahrain and anywhere else in the world to just strike. You have to give two weeks' notice to your employer," said one executive who did not wish to be named.
Bahrain's main Shi'ite opposition group, Wefaq, said it estimated that more than 1,000 workers had been laid off and that most were Shi'ites.
"Unemployment has its effects on social relationships, the well-being of the society," said group member Jasim Husain.
Government officials could not be reached for comment on the arrests.
Bahrain has increased its arrests of bloggers, activists and Shi'ites, with more than 300 detained and dozens missing since last month's crackdown on the pro-democracy protests.
Bahrain has seen the worst sectarian clashes between its Shi'ite majority population and the Sunni-ruled security forces since the 1990s after Shi'ite protesters, inspired by uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, took to the streets in February.
The clashes have killed at least 13 protesters and four police and prompted Bahrain to declare martial law and invite troops by Sunni Gulf neighbors who are wary of the regional influence of Shi'ite neighbor Iran.
NERVOUS OR CONFIDENT?
Gala Riani of risk analysts IHS Global Insight said the sackings showed that the government felt under fire: "This shows, to some degree, both how nervous they (the rulers) are and also how confident they are."
"They feel like they've got the security situation under control, so they can fire people in the dozens or the hundreds without risking renewed mass protests."
After security forces crushed the protests, the government launched a crackdown on opposition activists, Shi'ite villages and media such as the only opposition newspaper, Al-Wasat.
It suspended the newspaper on Sunday, accusing it of falsifying news about the unrest, replaced the editor and resumed printing on Monday, the same day it arrested and expelled two journalists, both Iraqis.
A government spokeswoman said Al Wasat had broken press laws.
Some political analysts said large-scale dismissals of Shi'ite workers could speed up the disintegration of Bahrain's society into Shi'ite and Sunni enclaves.
"They're basically punishing people to the degree that they can, and I think in the long term this is a very risky strategy for them to take," IHS Global Insight's Riani said.
More lay-offs are expected at Bahrain Petroleum (Bapco) which has fired the head of its workers' union. Workers fear that hundreds could be fired at the company after parliament launched an investigation headed by a Sunni hardline deputy.
"Everybody is afraid," a worker who did not wish to be named told Reuters.
CNBC, Tues Apr 5 2011