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Labour news this week: Backlash on EI changes, Nevsun accused of using forced labour, unions back Idle No More

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Backlash on new EI rules grows

Criticism of the Harper government's restrictive new rules for employment insurance recipients grew this week. The Quebec government expressed serious concerns about possible impacts on its province's economy, following a protest against the changes by an estimated 4,000 people on Îles-de-la-Madeleine on January 13.

Meanwhile, public alarm was ignited on Prince Edward Island over the case of a single mother who does not own a car being cut off EI benefits because she was not seeking work in Charlottetown -- a city more than 50 kilometres from her home.

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives takes a critical look at reforms to the employment insurance system in this recent publication.


Forced labour used to build Canadian firm's Eritrean mine, says Human Rights Watch

Canadian-based mining company Nevsun Resources is on the defensive after it was called out by Human Rights Watch in a report saying the company failed to ensure that forced labour was not used in the construction of its mine in Eritrea.


Canadian unions throw support behind anti-Keystone fight, Idle No More

Since mid-December, many Canadian unions have released statements of support for the Idle No More movement and the hunger strike of Chief Theresa Spence, and this week Local 444 of the Canadian Auto Workers union in Windsor encouraged its members to participate in the mass Idle No More demonstration on the Ambassador Bridge that took place Wednesday.

On Thursday, the head of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada spoke at a conference in New York, calling on President Obama to reject the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.


In B.C., tentative agreement for community health workers; social service workers plan further strike action

The union representing British Colombia's 14,000 community health workers (among the lowest paid workers in B.C.'s public sector) reached a tentative agreement with the government this week, following a year of negotiations. The new two-year contract would secure a three per cent wage increase and maintain benefits.

The province's community social service workers, meanwhile, remain without a contract and are set to resume rotating strike actions later this month.


Reports of wage theft, military intimidation against Asian factory workers embarrass Nike, Walmart, H&M

It's been an embarassing week for global corporate giants Walmart, H&M and Nike, with reports of wage theft and military intimidation calling attention once again to deplorable working conditions in the Asian-based factories manufacturing their products.

Nike was accused of bribing military personnel to intimidate workers in an Indonesian factory where its products are made.

In Cambodia, workers who'd made products for Walmart and H&M are campaigning to defend their rights after their factory was reportedly shuttered and abandoned while they were still owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid wages. That action comes on the heels of an announcement from Denmark's largest private life insurance company that it's pulling its investments from Walmart because of the company's appalling labour practices.


Other headlines of note:

Task force finds companies overlook qualified workers with disabilities

Man dies on the job in Fox Creek

Steelworkers Allege BC Importer of Chinese Miners Tied to Deadly Accidents

Dutch Disease not a major factor in Canada's manufacturing woes, report argues

Civil servants' retirement allowances axed

No vacation or severance pay for 100 workers let go as Fort Erie printing plant closes

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