• A Tale of Two Economies

    While the overall unemployment rate in Canada is low and the media paint a reassuring picture of broad-based prosperity, the reality is that disturbing new divisions of sector and region are being overlaid upon already deepening class differences. The past 25 years saw remarkably little progress for most Canadian workers. While real (inflation-adjusted) GDP per person has risen by about 50 per cent since the early 1980s, driven mainly by increased productivity, workers’ hourly wages have been remarkably stagnant.

  • The Impact of Privatization on Women

    Privatization is not gender-neutral. It threatens advances toward women’s equality in the labour market and in the home. In the labour market, privatization usually means lower wages for women workers, fewer workplace rights, reduced health and welfare benefits, no pension coverage, less predictable work hours, more precarious employment, a heavier workload and generally more exploitative working conditions.

  • What You Need To Know About May Day

    For more than 100 years, May Day has symbolized the common struggles of workers around the globe.

    The seeds were sown in the campaign for the eight-hour workday. On May 1, 1886, hundreds of thousands of North American workers mobilized to strike. In Chicago, the demonstration spilled over into support for workers at a major farm-implements factory who’d been locked out for union activities. On May 3, during a pitched battle between picketers and scabs, police shot two workers. At a protest rally in Haymarket Square the next day, a bomb was tossed into the police ranks and police directed their fire indiscriminately at the crowd. Eight anarchist leaders were arrested, tried and sentenced to death (three were later pardoned).

  • B.C Teachers Move Labour Forward

    llegal strikes are almost always caused by management provocations – firing union activists, health and safety violations, introducing non-union workers at a job site, or the introduction of repressive labour legislation.Illegal job actions mostly don’t end up in clear victories for the unions. Dismissals, arrests, or court injunctions often enter into the equation, adding to the issues that must be resolved and putting the unions further onto the defensive.

  • CAW, CUPE & Struggles for Jobs

    For many years the Left in the labour movement fought to get the Canadian Labour Congress to play a role in establishing collective agreement priorities. In the 1980s the CLC held conferences and produced educational materials on issues like reduced working time and bargaining technological change. But affiliate unions showed little interest in developing common priorities or coordinating their efforts concerning bargaining.

  • The workers need Chapter 11

    As for all that self-righteous hot air about how B.C. teachers should set a better example by obeying the “law,” I can’t imagine a better lesson in democracy than watching a group of citizens collectively resisting injustice.

    Karl Marx argued that under capitalism, the legal system was pretty much a tool of the ruling class, designed to protect property rights and keep workers in line. This is quite an oversimplification, but every now and then Marx comes close to the mark. If he could see what’s been happening in British Columbia, he’d probably say, “I told you so.”

  • Leaders and Members at Odds on CLC

    There is a tendency within Canadian labour to ignore the split occurring in the AFL-CIO. This is a mistake. In the United States the leadership of the largest unions have initiated a debate about the structure of the movement and the role of the AFL-CIO. The three largest unions have left the AFL-CIO and more may join them. In contrast, the leaderships of most Canadian unions appear completely satisfied with the laissez-faire approach of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) towards organizing and bargaining. But the election results in the CLC convention, where challenger Carol Wall received a whopping 37 per cent, indicates many activists feel otherwise. In fact, the debate in Canada is alive and well whether the leadership likes it or not.

  • Leadership the Issue at CLC Convention

    Just another day in the labour movement. On June 13, 2005, 212 garbage collection workers began a legal strike in Mississauga. The workers were confronted with scabs performing their work. The union, Teamsters Canada Local Union 419, refused to comment publicly on the reasons for the strike or the issues at stake. The Toronto Star reported on the frustration of the public having to deal with hot weather, smelly garbage, with no idea of the reasons behind the strike.

  • The Call for a Living Wage

    No surprise to those of us trapped in low-wage jobs, but for others more fortunate, let’s make it official: having a job is no longer a way out of poverty. The minimum wage in most provinces is so low that even someone working full time at a minimum-wage job falls far short of the poverty line. Indeed, it’s a fact that half of the families in Canada who are living below the poverty line have someone working 35 or more hours per week.

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