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Labour news this week: corporate tax cuts created few jobs; bad week for retail workers; unionization of inmate workers blocked

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Corporations sitting on money saved from tax cuts rather than creating jobs, says CLC report

Most of the money businesses have saved from the deep cuts to Canada's corporate tax rates since 2000 have been translated into idle cash reserves, rather than being invested in productive economic activity and job creation. That's the conclusion of a report released Tuesday by the Canadian Labour Congress.

The report shows that from 2001 to 2011, the total cash reserves of Canada's private, non-financial corporations grew from $187 billion to $575 billion. During roughly the same time period, from 2000 to 2012, successive Liberal and Conservative governments cut federal corporate tax rates from 28 percent to 15 per cent. They argued the cuts were the most effective way to stimulate job growth. 

Bad week for retail workers in Canada

Sears Canada announced Thursday that it will lay off 700 workers across the country. The retail chain faces declining sales and is bracing for heavy competition from U.S. discount chains like Target.

Layoffs are also imminent at Best Buy Canada, which just announced it plans to close 15 Best Buy and Future Shop stores in Canada. Up to 900 workers, or about five percent of the company's Canadian workforce, will be affected.

Meanwhile, convenience store chain Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. has quietly begun selling off some of its Quebec outlets to franchisees, a strategy obviously designed to block a successful unionization campaign among its employees in that province.


Labour board won't hear case of inmate workers' stymied attempts to unionize

The first campaign in Canada to unionize inmates working in prisons suffered a setback this week with a labour board ruling that the workers are not public servants.

Inmates working at the Mountain Institution in Agassiz, B.C. had filed a complaint with the board because prison authorities and wardens, they say, blocked their attempts to create a new union called the Canadian Prisoners Labour Confederation. The Public Service Labour Relations Board ruled that it doesn't have jurisdiction to hear the inmates' complaint because they are not employees of Correctional Services.


HD Mining pauses on mass import of migrant labourers, sends first 16 workers home

HD Mining has sent the 16 temporary foreign labourers set to work on its Murray River Coal Project back home to China. The company says it will hold off starting work on the mine or bringing in any additional temporary workers until the court challenge over the worker permits is resolved.

"We are very concerned about the cost and disruption this litigation brought by the unions has caused to the planning of the project," said HD Mining spokesperson Jody Shimkus.

"Its actions in pulling out and blaming unions that are only asking for a fair judicial review speak volumes about HD Mining," said a representative of one of the unions that brought forward the court challenge. 


East Coast politicians want reversal of EI changes

Public protests over restrictive new EI rules continued in New Brunswick last weekend, with one protest on the Acadian Peninsula attracting about 1,200 people. 

The leader of New Brunswick's Liberal Party is pushing the premier to oppose the changes, and politicians from all the provincial parties in Prince Edward Island have spoken out against them.


Shaky pension plans did slightly better in 2012

Canada's biggest pension plans made significantly better returns in 2012 than 2011, according to RBC Investor Service's annual survey. But because of previous shortfalls, average pension plans in Canada were still only 69 percent funded at the end of 2012, compared to 68 percent in 2011.

(That news won't matter much, of course, to the 80 percent of private-sector employees in Canada who don't even have pensions.)


Other headlines of note

U.S. unions' continued decline masks new forms of worker activism

Canada is world's biggest housing bubble: Atlantic magazine

The Rise of the Permanent Temp Economy

Reflecting on the Rand Formula as Ontario's Tories Target Their Union Foes

Preserving urban employment lands key to future prosperity

The 10 per cent delusion: Fraser Institute gins up fake facts about Alberta public sector pay

Income inequality spikes in Canada's big cities

More than 3000 B.C. community living workers going on strike

BC universities predict dire shortage of skilled workers within three years

Labour group says a new upgrader will help economy


Photo courtesy of Canadian Labour Congress

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