This week in labour: Some cringe-worthy Conservative gaffes and much, much, more!

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Photo: Flickr;  Alex Guibord

This week's labour roundup is gleefully mean, because it starts with a couple of Harper facepalm-worthy mess-ups.

When it comes to omnibus bills and hidden agendas, it can be hard to explain just how and why this government isn't working for workers. But this week, they made it super easy! Thanks y'all!



Let's review, shall we?

  • At a meeting of the G7 finance ministers, Canadian Finance Minister Joe Oliver said that he believes relaxing labour laws would make it easier to lay-off workers and would help spur economic growth. Oliver later backpedaled, saying that the comment was a general one, and not specific to Canada. But how does that help? 
  • To accommodate a press conference by the prime minister at an auto parts manufacturer in Windsor, Ontario, dozens of contract workers were asked to stay home. Why? Because they had not been sufficiently vetted by the PM's staff. Huh, maybe there is a downside to using precarious labour. 
  • The Conservatives announced their plans to budge an inch on expanding the Canadian Pension Plan. This helpful video illustrates how the Conservatives have flip-flopped on the CPP since 2006.
  • The Canadian Museum of History -- formerly the Canadian Museum of Civilization -- has removed its exhibit on the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike. Critics say that this erasure is being mandated by the Conservative government, who are using the museum, which is a Canadian Crown corporation, to rewrite history.
  • An Ontario Human Rights tribunal has awarded major settlements to two women who were sexually harassed while working under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program at a fish processing plant in Wheatley, Ont. The ruling is seen as highlighting the vulnerability of temporary foreign workers.
  • After several weeks of bargaining and a temporary ban on voluntary overtime, Winnipeg's transit drivers have reached a tentative agreement with the City. The membership votes on the agreement sometime next week.
  • Late thursday, the Ontario legislature passed back-to-work legislation that will prohibit secondary school teachers from striking until next September. According to the Toronto Star, the province says that there is now no rush to return to talks with the high school teachers' union (OSSTF). Both the OSSTF and the NDP have condemned the move as a ham-fisted approach to negotiations. 
  • Interestingly, a recent poll shows that while 56 per cent of Ontarians approve of the back-to-work legislation, 51 per cent also stand with the teachers. And in the three school district where strikes were held earlier this month, the approval rating for teachers is even higher, and a greater number of respondents from those areas disagree with the back-to-work legislation.
  • And finally, in a hilarious op-ed, a convicted white-collar criminal explains why the privatization of Hydro One is the biggest con job he's ever seen.


Ella Bedard is's labour intern and an associate editor at GUTS Canadian Feminist Magazine. She has written about labour issues for and the Halifax Media Co-op and is the co-producer of the radio documentary The Amelie: Canadian Refugee Policy and the Story of the 1987 Boat People.


Photo: attached; Flickr;  Alex Guibord

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