June 15, 2012

Volume 42, No. 23


Job Statistics Underscores Need for Good Jobs Summit

Canada's unemployment rate remains stubbornly high and continues to show troubling trends of growing youth unemployment as well as more self-employed workers, CAW President Ken Lewenza says.
 
Lewenza was reacting to Statistics Canada's Labour Force Survey for May, which was released June 8. The survey showed Canada's jobless rate remained at 7.3 per cent and that the economy only picked up 7,700 jobs last month.
 
Although there is some good news with manufacturers adding 36,000 positions last month, and gains in retail, wholesale and agriculture, the construction rate dropped, as did jobs in the information, culture and recreation areas, he said.
 
"Stubborn high unemployment, especially among certain demographic groups such as youth means it's clear that Canada needs a strategy to create good jobs," Lewenza said.
 
Unemployment among youth aged 15 to 24 increased from 13.9 per cent in April to 14.3 per cent last month. The survey noted that youth employment is roughly at the same level as in July 2009, when the labour market downturn hit a low.
 
"The federal government must take heed of these job trends and take action to help all Canadians, including our youth find secure, decent full time jobs," Lewenza said.
 
He again stressed the need for a multi-stakeholder, national good jobs summit, which he said is long overdue given the massive structural changes the Canadian labour market continues to endure. Over the last seven years, more than half a million good paying manufacturing and processing jobs have been lost.
 
CAW economist Jim Stanford recently told the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance that Canada's labour market has only marginally recovered from the worst days of the 2008-09 recession.
 
He presented the Committee with estimates of actual unemployment, which he pegged at almost 2.3 million Canadians, or over 12 percent.

Our Choice is Pro-Choice

Supporters of the anti-choice movement are assembling across the country in the hope of overturning women's legal right to accessible and safe abortion services. Egged on by Conservative-sponsored motion M-312 that would call legal abortions into question, anti-abortionists have become emboldened.

M-312 proposes the creation of a Parliamentary Committee to examine whether the Criminal Code definition of "human being" should be expanded to include fetuses. In effect, the motion opens the door for the criminalization of abortion and the revival of a long concluded debate. The motion will be voted on when Parliament resumes in the fall.

One U.S.-based anti-choice organization is organizing a caravan, driving across Canada to call on supporters to end women's right to choose - effectively destroying women's autonomy over their own bodies, reproductive choices and lives.

In April 1970, the Vancouver Women's Caucus set out for Ottawa. A courageous group of 17 women drove into communities large and small with a coffin strapped to the roof of their van filled with coat hangers that symbolized the deaths of thousands of women who died due to botched abortions each year in Canada," said Julie White, CAW Director of Women's Programs.

"Their actions would lay the groundwork that would see the legalization of a woman's right to choose. Today 42 years later, an organization known as the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform want to take away our rights using fear, guilt, and shock tactics. Join us at the counter protests and let's once again tell them that our reproductive rights are not up for debate."

The CAW is helping to organize peaceful demonstrations to meet anti-choice supporters as they arrive in town.

Check out the list of events http://www.caw.ca/en/11272.htm. Bring your noise makers, pots and pans and your best pro-choice sign!

To find out more about an event in your area, get involved or organize a counter protest, please contact Penny.Wilkins@caw.ca or Susan.Houston@caw.ca

To check out what CAW President Ken Lewenza and Director of Women's Programs Julie White had to say about M-312 visit: http://www.caw.ca/en/11156.htm

Trade Union Rights Under Assault, ITUC Survey says

An annual survey of trade union rights around the world shows that 2011 was a dangerous time for many trade unionists who faced dismissal, arrest, imprisonment and even death.
On June 6 The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) released its annual survey of violations of trade union rights in 143 countries.
 
"Colombia is once again the most dangerous country in the world for trade unionists," states the ITUC in a release. "Of the 76 people murdered for their trade union activities, not counting the workers killed during the Arab Spring, 29 lost their lives in Colombia. And in Guatemala yet again trade unionists paid a heavy price, with 10 assassinations committed with impunity. A further eight trade unionists were murdered in Asia."
 
The increase in precarious forms of work has made it extremely difficult for trade union organizations to defend workers rights, particularly, for example, in countries such as South Africa, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Pakistan.
 
The survey said governments around the globe have generally persisted in favouring austerity measures over stimulating growth and employment, which means the world economic crisis continued to impact unfairly on workers.
 
"The consequences have been devastating, particularly for the young. Unemployment reached 205 million in 2011. In Spain, 40 per cent of young people are out of work while Greece has an unemployment rate of 21 per cent," the ITUC says.
 
The survey also outlines how strikes have been fiercely repressed in many countries including Georgia, Kenya, South Africa and Botswana, where 2800 workers were dismissed after a public sector strike. But it's not only the developing world where trade union rights come under attack.
 
"They are also under threat in many industrialized countries, including Canada, whose Conservative government has repeatedly sought to undermine union organizing and collective bargaining rights."
The ITUC represents 175 million workers in 153 countries and territories and has 308 national affiliates.
 
Read the complete survey at http://survey.ituc-csi.org/ 

Seismic Surveys Disrupt Fishery, FFAW/CAW says

FFAW/CAW President Earle McCurdy is calling on the Canada Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board to immediately revoke the permit of a seismic prospecting company which conducted seismic surveys on prime fishing grounds in clear violation of the schedule they were supposed to follow.
 
"We've had enough of it," McCurdy said June 8 in a release. "This is the second year in a row that seismic companies have interfered with our fishery."
 
The prospecting company MIK proposed to CNLOPB, the regulatory agency for the Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Area, a seismic survey covering a massive area of ocean off the northeast coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. They were supposed to avoid conflict with the fishery in Newfoundland by delaying the survey in key fishing areas until the bulk of the fishery is over.
 
"Obviously these prospectors have to be brought under control, and it's CNLOPB's job to do it," McCurdy said. "I think there has to be a major rethink of this whole prospecting business. These companies come in on spec, with no regard for the impact on an industry that's been around for 500 years, then try to peddle the results to oil companies."
 
Last year, shrimp catch rates dropped off considerably in the immediate wake of seismic activity nearby. The FFAW/CAW has received complaints from shrimp captains that the same thing happened this week in the immediate aftermath of seismic blasting.
 
"What's the point of public consultations if these companies can change their plans unilaterally?" McCurdy asked.
 
The CAW/FFAW is urgently requesting a meeting with CNLOPB, MIK, Provincial Fisheries, the One Ocean liason group and oil industry representatives to deal with the matter.

Manitoba Premier Addresses CAW Skilled Trades Council

Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger speaks at CAW Skilled Trades Council.

 

 

 

Manitoba NDP Premier Greg Selinger addressed the CAW Skilled Trades Council meeting on June 1, in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
 
Premier Selinger spoke about current challenges and what he sees as the future direction of the province.
 
CAW President Ken Lewenza also spoke addressing the current new union discussions between the CAW and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP) as well as growing income inequality and other challenges facing the union.
 
The Skilled Trades Council brought together more than 100 skilled trades workers from across Canada to discuss issues related to employment in the trades, apprenticeships and associated topics.
 
The CAW represents approximately 24,000 skilled trades workers right across the country.

Harper Government Blasted for Awarding Huge Defence Contract to U.S. Firm

CAW President Ken Lewenza sent the following letter June 12 to Prime Minister Stephen Harper regarding his government's short-sighted decision to award a $1.25 billion Department of National Defence contract to a U.S. firm.
 
Here is the full text of Lewenza's letter to Harper:
 
"I am writing to voice my frustration and disbelief at your government's recent decision to award a $1.25 billion Department of National Defence contract to a U.S. firm.  This decision can only be described as short-sighted and damaging for the city of London and the national economy.
 
The contract for at least 500 tactical armoured patrol vehicles could last for 25 years, securing work and jobs well into the future.  As you may know, London Machinery Inc. also made a bid for the contract - along with a supporting bid by General Dynamics Land Systems Canada, which builds armoured military vehicles in London.  If London Machinery Inc, combined with General Dynamics would have been awarded the contract, it would have secured work for decades.
 
Instead though, the work went to the Canadian division of the U.S. Company Textron Systems, where the work will largely be done in Louisiana.  While the contract does require Textron to invest in Canada through the use of domestic goods and services, the economic spin-off will be far less than if the contract was awarded to a firm who would build the vehicles in Canada.
 
London North Centre MP Susan Truppe was quoted in the London Free Press as saying the government "had to do what is right for Canadian taxpayers and the military - we have to keep them safe."  I fail to understand how sending $1.25 billion dollars of public funds to the United States in defence contracts can be classified as "doing what is right for Canadian taxpayers."
 
Ms. Truppe went on to say that, "It was a fair and open competition and I am disappointed it did not go to a London company because it would have employed more."
 
Prime Minister, your government has again demonstrated its disregard for Canadian workers and local communities.  Repeatedly, your government triumphs a commitment to 'taxpayers,' which incredibly, precludes Canadian workers.  I do wonder who exactly does your government classify as a taxpayer?
 
The community of London has been ravaged by closure after closure - Ford St. Thomas Assembly Plant, Sterling Truck, Electro-Motive Diesel, - putting thousands of people into unemployment.  The unemployment rate is now 8.3 and shows little sign of improving.
 
The federal government must prioritize domestic economic development and cease awarding lucrative public contracts to firms which will send jobs out of the country.  As the Government of Canada, that in fact is your real obligation."
 
In addition, Lewenza also sent letters to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and London Mayor Joe Fontana, with copies to Ontario Minister of Economic Development and Innovation Brad Duguid; London North Centre MP Susan Truppe and London City Councillors. 

CAW Support for PowerShift Canada 2012

More than 1,500 young Canadians will gather in Ottawa for PowerShift Canada 2012 on October 26 to 29 - a weekend long conference intended to educate, organize and activate Canadian youth on environmental and social justice issues.
 
Young CAW members from across Canada are playing an active role in organizing this year's event alongside environmental, student and indigenous rights activists, among others.
 
PowerShift 2012 follows a hugely successful conference in 2009, involving 1000 young activists - marking the largest ever single gathering of young Canadians for an environmental issue in history. Participants from across Canada brought a demand for bold, comprehensive and immediate action on climate change and the need for green economic investment.
 
In a June 12 letter to CAW local union presidents and recording secretaries, CAW President Ken Lewenza encouraged all local unions to support PowerShift 2012 organizing efforts. He outlined a number of ways to help, including:
 
- providing a financial contribution (or other in-kind donation);
- offering local union hall space for regional PowerShift organizing meetings;
- sending young members to Ottawa to participate in the conference;
- encourage young members to join a PowerShift fundraising or outreach committee in their region.
 
For more information please contact CAW National Representative Angelo DiCaro at angelo.dicaro@caw.ca or CAW Local 444 Young Workers Committee member and PowerShift organizer Melisa LaRue at melisalarue1@gmail.com.


 
For more information or to download a copy of this poster please visit:
http://www.caw.ca/en/11122.htm


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