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Labour news this week: C-377 rammed through by MPs; no movement on CPP expansion; Canada opposes labour protection in trade deal

Conservative government rams through anti-union Bill C-377

Last week in the House of Commons, Conservative MPs voted in Bill C-377, which will create unprecedented financial reporting requirements for unions in Canada. The move prompted a massive outcry from unions, labour rights advocates and opposition MPs. (For an incisive analysis of the agenda behind C-377, see Duncan Cameron's column here.)


Finance ministers' meeting leaves question of CPP expansion unresolved

Provincial finance minsters discussed the possibility of expanding the Canada Pension Plan at a two-day meeting with federal finance minister Jim Flaherty this week, but the talks wrapped up without any agreement on the issue. Ontario and labour groups want to see significant expansion of the program immediately, while Minister Flaherty has said now "probably is not the time" for expansion.


Canada opposes strong enforcement of labour rights at Trans-Pacific Partnership

At recent negotiations on the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, Canada came out as a
strong opponent of a labour-rights enforcement provision
, advanced by the U.S., that would punish labour rights violations by foreign companies by imposing trade sanctions as well as fines. Canada wants to limit enforcement to fines only.


Court denies injuction on import of temporary foreign workers to B.C. mine, as
Conservatives make surprise changes to program rules

The Federal Court has denied two unions' request for an injunction on the mass arrival of temporary labourers from China to work on a coal mine in Tumbler Ridge, B.C. The unions wanted the court to put the plan on hold until a separate judicial review determines whether the permits for temporary foreign workers should have been issued to HD Mining in the first place.

Meanwhile, the Harper government quietly introduced changes to Canada's temporary foreign worker policies last week, denying parental leave benefits to seasonal workers while allowing better paid "skilled" workers to qualify for residency sooner.


Walmart worker protest goes global

The campaign by U.S. Walmart employees against poor pay and abusive labour practices went global last Friday, with workers and supporters picketing Walmart stores in ten countries, including Canada.

Appalling working conditions at factories supplying Walmart continue to be exposed, with a new report by the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights revealing potentially deadly safety violations at a Chinese factory -- echoing conditions which led to a fire that killed 112 Bangladeshi workers in November.

Ontario students protest Bill 115

Thousands of Ontario high school students staged a walkout last Monday to picket in protest of Bill 115, which denies teachers the right to strike. One-day strikes by Ontario elementary school teachers continue this week, while high school teachers are preparing to vote on a province-wide walkout for the new year. 

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