Workers and the fallout from covid-19

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Workers and the fallout from covid-19

But what about the poor champermaids? This thread is in reaction to a thread begun for a specific subset of the working force but in all seriousness many workers are going to be hit hard. Many workers depend on tips. Closed tourist spots means no work for cleaners and other staff. The transportation industry will be hit hard. 60% of the fabric for manufacturing clothing in Bangladesh comes from China. 90% of what I buy probably comes from China. Clothing retailers are going to get hit. Anything that can be ordered online will be ordered online. Daycare workers will be hit. 

I've already started my online Provigo order even though the store is right around the corner. I'm having my prescriptions delivered. I'm hunkering down for the long haul. 

I think this will be much worse than 2008. Who will get bailed out this time? I have read that the economy is better stimulated by giving money to the poor because they spend it all in one way or another which keeps the money circulating.

Now would be a good time to promote basic income. 

Douglas Fir Premier

Pondering wrote:

But what about the poor champermaids?


Here's the punchline.


It isn't just them Doug and a few people giving money to workers in any industry is like filling a swimming pool with a thimble. They need a lot more than charity. They need a basic income. You may not realize it but many "sex workers" would not walk the streets if they had enough money to survive without doing so. Also a good idea to decriminalize all drug use like Uruguay. 

Given that wages are so much more generous streetwalking and stripping than working MacDonalds we need to think about workers that are poor and don't make enough money to save. In case you can't tell. I am being sarcastic because I don't think sex work is as lucrative for women as it is for those exploiting them. 


Coronavirus Is Not Your Vacation:

All over the United States, people are fleeing urban areas with high infection rates for the perceived safety and natural beauty of rural areas. Some of them own second homes in those areas; others are paying upwards of $10,000 a month, depending on the area, for temporary housing. The common denominator among those populations is, again, wealth — either their own or their families’. They can flee the city because their jobs can be done remotely, or they don’t work at all. They either had a vacation house already, or they can afford to fork over what amounts to a second rent, or second mortgage.


Second-home and rental property owners pay property taxes, and in many of these towns their presence has become crucial to the area’s economy, which has transitioned from resource extraction (fishing, logging, mining) to recreation and tourism. Yet these towns have not been designed to support massive influxes of off-season residents. They don’t have the sanitation capabilities. In springtime, their supply chains, which keep the small number of grocery stores stocked with food, aren’t ramped up for peak winter or summer populations. Their broadband can’t support the demands of hundreds or thousands of cooped-up new residents, eager to stream Netflix the same way they did in more urban areas.

Most people arriving from cities aren’t thinking about these things — and that, full-time residents of these areas say, is part of the point. They don’t know the fine balance of these communities, because most of these new arrivals, even those with second homes, don’t really know these communities at all. They don’t know the state of the school systems, the size of the hospitals, the limitations of the supply chain for food, or how the spread of short-term rentals has exacerbated affordable housing crises because those things — save in the case of an emergency — just don’t affect them.


“Rural, nature-heavy environments have long served as a way for a privileged (and overwhelmingly white) ‘Us’ to get away from an othered and less-privileged ‘Them,’” writer Rahawa Haile pointed out last week on Twitter. “People of means who feel entitled to space and perceived ‘purity’ will flock to it if law and infrastructure allow it.” Ashleigh Weeden, who’s completing her PhD in rural studies at the University of Guelph, told me that many people still think of rural and remote places as “empty,” as places of escape — which, in her words, “ignores that there are entire communities of people who live there year-round and indigenous people who’ve lived in these places since time immemorial.”

Those scholars also debate the different categories of rural: the places that have fully embraced the amenity-rich tourism-dependent strategy (Whitefish, Aspen, Hudson Valley), the places transitioning to that model from land-based economies, and the places, in Hardy’s words, that are poor, struggling, and have no real path toward a tourist economy (areas of the Mississippi Delta and Appalachia, as well as hundreds of former ranching, farming, or mining communities across the US). Right now, much of the national media’s focus is on areas in those first two categories. But COVID-19 is undoubtedly coming for the poor rural areas, too.


The question to ask, then, is whether your relocation to a rural place will be a net help or a harm — not for you, personally, but for the community itself. Americans struggle mightily with the ideology of individualism: that all that matters, in a particular moment, is what is happening to you and yours. Rural America is asking you to think otherwise. You might “enjoy” your quarantine more. But the rural places so many Americans treat as playgrounds, and the workers who make that play and respite and feeling of safety possible, may suffer profoundly in your service.


I read an article that said people in campers from Alberta and the US were showing up in Bella Coola to "ride out the storm."


kropotkin1951 wrote:

I read an article that said people in campers from Alberta and the US were showing up in Bella Coola to "ride out the storm."

I was actually thinking about this as First Nations in Manitoba began their coronavirus preparations. It's true that First Nations communities are more vulnerable to negative health care outcomes. It is also true that the virus first arrived in our major urban centres, thus giving rural First Nations communities a bit of time to respond. I think it would be ironic if, because of their isolation, manage to escape the worst impacts of coronavirus better than our major towns and cities.


New Brunswick bans temporary foreign workers

Given that conservative governments are generally supported by agribusiness lobbies that rely heavily on temporary foreign workers, this is a very courageous move by Premier Higgs. The temporary foreign worker program's main purpose was to essentially create a disposable workforce for employers that don't want to pay people fair wages, and the program should be scrapped entirely. What should go in its place are proper immigration channels that allow people to stay here and gain the full rights, benefits, and priviledges of people who were born here. These rights would include the right to quit one's job and look somewhere else. In the mean time, these employers should try and hire some of the many people who have become unemployed as a result of this pandemic.


Postcards From the Pandemic

"A comic by Amazon workers for Amazon workers..."

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Winnipeg Transit announces service reductions


As a result of this service reduction, 229 permanent bus operators and 24 non-permanent bus operators will be temporarily laid off. Permanent bus operators will be laid off effective May 3, 2020, and non-permanent operators in training will be laid off as training programs finish on May 1 and May 22, 2020. Employees who are temporarily laid off will have access to mental health supports, and will continue to be included in communications from the City of Winnipeg. For those employees who are in receipt of regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits, the City has registered a Supplementary Unemployment Benefit Plan (SUBP) with the Government of Canada. The SUBP will provide a top-up to 75% of their regular gross weekly salary, for a period of eight weeks for permanent staff and four weeks for non-permanent staff, while they are on temporary lay-off.


So the layoffs at Winnipeg Transit come into effect May 3, the day before the province starts a slow re-opening, which will in some way lead to increased demand for transit. Strange timing. Boggles the mind.


"Workers are back on the job at the Cargill meat processing plant today, despite union demands that it stay closed after a massive COVID-19 outbreak. Over 900 of the plant's 2,000 workers have tested positive...(and vid)

Watch for more pressuring of workers to return to work under still unsafe conditions.

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“It’s Very Scary”: COVID Surges in Meat Plants as Activists Demand Worker Safety & Meatless Mondays


Last week, President Trump signed an executive order barring governments from closing meat plants. The order declares meat plants as critical infrastructure. At least 20 meatpacking workers have died from COVID-19; more than 5,000 have fallen ill from the disease. That number is expected to be far higher due to a lack of testing.

In Sioux Falls, South Dakota, at least a thousand people have tested positive for the virus at one Smithfield pork plant, accounting for more than half the confirmed cases in the entire state of South Dakota. At least six workers at a JBS beef packing plant in Greeley, Colorado, have died from COVID-19. Despite this, the plant reopened last week, after a short closure, without testing all its workers.


AMY GOODMAN: President Trump’s executive order to keep meat plants running has sparked outrage over what it means for workers being forced to work in unsafe conditions. On Friday, dozens of Bell & Evans workers and activists circled the poultry company’s Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, poultry processing plant in a funeral caravan, after two COVID-19 deaths and dozens of infections connected to the plant. The protesters demanded an immediate shutdown of the plant and full pay for all workers until it can implement a plan to keep workers safe, including personal protective equipment, paid sick time and social distancing policies.

PROTESTER: Bell & Evans has gone radio silent while their workers die. That’s unacceptable. We demand Bell & Evans to tell us how many workers are infected and how many workers have died. We need to know how many other workers have been infected by the failures of this company.



And what we’re seeing, more than that, is that when President Trump enacted the Defense Production Act, what he is asking our community to do is to march into slaughterhouses and put their lives on the line. What he is doing is a lack of acknowledgment and completely voiding and annulling a person’s right to work in a safe place.

We know that more than 20,000 individuals have been impacted, have cases of COVID-19, and that there’s over 20 deaths that have occurred. However, we feel that these estimates are highly undercounted. We think that it’s at least double, if not triple, those numbers. And again, what we’re hearing from the workers and from their families is that, in many instances, the workers are being turned away by the clinics and hospitals in their community, and they’re having to drive over an hour and a half or two hours simply to get tested — and, on top, pay for the tests in order to know if they actually do have COVID cases.


Cargill Processing Plant With More Than 900 COVID-19 Cases Reopen Despite Union Opposition (and vid)



Under the Shadow of Contagion: Abuse of Filipino Workers in Alberta's Largest COVID-19 Outbreak

"COVID-19 continues to expose Canada's capitalist contradictions and the exploitation of workers this country was built on. Indeed, nowhere are the indications of this disaster more calamitous than in Alberta..."

Meanwhile the voice of the oligarchs, CBC's Power and Politics,  discusses the problem of 'disincentives' supposedly presented by CERB, for dissuading minimum waged precariat labour from returning to dangerous, low-paid jobs.


Under US Pressure, Mexican Government Vows to Impose Return to Work and 'Herd Immunity' Policy

"The Trump administration published its plan 'Opening Up America Again', and the US president called AMLO shortly afterwards to pressure him to reopen plants in Mexico..."

Coming soon to a NAFTA partner near you.


More Than 900 COVID-19 Cases at Cargill But Governments Allow it to Reopen

"...The High River plant has an extremely high profile. It is one of the epicentres of COVID-19 in Canada - in all of North America, in fact - with over 900 reported cases out of 2,000 employees. The UFCW does not think the notoriously loaw-paid plant workers should have to risk their lives to fatten the balance sheet of a US-based corporation that ranks number 15 on the Fortune-500. Freeland's assertion that responsbility for the safety of a product that consumers eat does not include making sure a processing plant is not an active breeder of a deadly virus reflects a narrow and limited understanding of the federal role..."

'Theirs not to wonder why/Theirs but to do and die...' Tennyson


Cold, Crowded, Deadly: How US Meat Plants [and Canadian Branch Plants] Became a Virus Breeding Ground

"With thousands of workers sick, plants are closing and the food supply is faltering..."


There is still plenty of meat. We are not at risk of starving we will just have to pay more so maybe eat less meat and more lentils. It is easy to buy half a cow. It's the processing plants that are the problem. Butchers will be very popular.

Government is going to have to learn that they will now have to satisfy worker demands for safety and better pay. They are trying to arrange it in such a way that they can take it away in future after CERB is gone. They want to coerce people back to work but I don't think they will succeed. That is the moment that I hope unions are preparing for. When all the top ups are taken away because they are considered danger pay instead of simply a fair wage.

By saying that workers are not allowed to work in more than one home rather than telling homes they must hire full time workers they can back track when the emergency is over and "allow" workers to work part-time again as though they are the driving force.

Up until a few days ago Legault was saying teachers over sixty should stay home, now he wants them to work so he is saying they should have "the right" to work.


The Pandemic Paradox: Canadians Asked To Go Out and Face Threat That Kept Them Inside for Weeks

"The virus hasn't changed but the message has..."


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Youth unemployment rate spikes amid pandemic

More likely to have a precarious grip on retail and hospitality jobs, young people were hit hard by layoffs in April, according to employment data released by Statistics Canada on Friday, as the COVID-19 pandemic largely kept shops, bars and restaurants closed.

Some 480,000 people between 15 and 24 years old lost their jobs last month, according to the data, with roughly 260,000 of those losses in part-time employment. That takes the total number of young people put out of work since the pandemic forced the closure of large swaths of public life in mid-March to 873,000.

The youth unemployment rate jumped to 27.2 per cent in April, from 16.8 per cent in March, while student unemployment was even higher, which the statistics agency said was “signalling that many could face difficulties in continuing to pay for their studies.”


While young people accounted for almost a quarter of the job losses across the country, they make up only 12 per cent of the labour force.....

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Greyhound to shut down all service


However, the transit action by Greyhound Canada will leave people in Central Canada with fewer ways to travel and another 400 employees out of work as of May 13.

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The family connection between Cargill and the UCP

While recently reading a story about Cargill reopening, I was interested in a statement saying that UFCW 401, the union representing Cargill workers, had written a letter to Alberta government officials and Cargill executives.

I was curious if a copy of the letter was online. If I knew who was in the Cargill executive, maybe I could see if there was any connection to the current provincial government.

After a bit of searching, I found the letter. And there at the top of it was the name of the general manager:

Dale LaGrange

I was immediately curious, as he shares a last name with Adrianna LaGrange, Alberta’s education minister. And I wasn’t the only one: just earlier this week, someone else was asking about the connection.


In other words, Adrianna LaGrange is the aunt of Cargill’s general manager.


Conter vs Corona Lecture (podcast)

"In the recording of our first live forum on the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the system, Costas Lapavitsas talks state intervention to save capitalism, UBI and the profound failure of the EU."


Former World Economic Forum Director - Coronavirus Fallout Could Lead to Revolutions in the West (and vid)

"On this episode of Going Underground, we speak to the former director of the World Economic Forum, Frank-Jurgen Richter. He discusses the impact of coronavirus, the possibility of class warfare and revolutions in the West. Finally, we speak to Bhaskar Sunkara, author of 'The Socialist Manifesto'. He discusses how coronavirus has shattered neoliberalism's illusions and how a path to socialism can be forged out of the fallout from the pandemic."

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Good one.


As US House Returns to Washington, Democrats Signal Readiness to Grant Companies Immunity for Workers Deaths

"Amid scenes of disease, death and hunger not seen since the Great Depression, the Trump administration and Congress are, in Trump's words, 'in no rush' to pass a 'Phase IV' stimulus bill to provide aid to bankrupt state and city governments and relief to desperate working class families. But its already clear that any bill that emerges will further enrich the financial artistocracy at the expense of the jobs, the wages, and the very lives of the working class...."


GM Workers in Mexico Call For An International Struggle To Keep Plants Closed During Pandemic

"Workers at General Motors in Mexico have been ordered to prepare to return to work on May 18, the same day as in the US and Canada. As the pandemic continues to spread out of control across the three countries, with Mexican hospitals overwhelmed and recording an accelerated increase in deaths, the premature reopening constitutes a death sentence for many at the plants, their families and communities. Workers at the Silao Complex, one of GM's four plants in Mexico, are appealing urgently to keep the plants closed. On March 21, WSWS published an earlier appeal by Silao workers to co-workers in the US and Canada for a joint struggle to close the plants in Mexico and protect lives against the pandemic..."


Do I Have The Right To Refuse Work?

Employee rights.


US Systemic Collapse is 'Total' (podcast) *MUST HEAR*

"The current meltdown is 'a total crisis' of the system' in all economic, social and political aspects, said Dubosian scholar Dr Anthony Monteiro. The COVID-19 pathogen 'triggered the crisis - points that were already in existence.' We have to look at this is a total crisis..."



Wrong thread

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Shock-and-awe pandemics

Coined by Naomi Klein in her 2007 book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, disaster capitalism may be defined as the practice of taking advantage of a major disaster to adopt policies the population would be less likely to accept under normal circumstances. It is a tactic conceived by Friedman at the Chicago School of Economics. Known as “economic shock treatment,” or “shock therapy,” it predicts that the speed and scope of significant change in times of crisis create a psychological state in the public that facilitates change acceptance. Any port in a storm.


The current COVID-19 pandemic presents the next opportunity to break out “one per cent” back-shelf policies gathering dust in anticipation of just the right moment to slide one by distracted taxpayers.

While the world cowers in isolation under a blanket of intense media fearmongering and government-ordered closures, U.S. President Donald Trump is dusting off some old ideas — such as a suspension of the payroll tax, which could bankrupt social security, providing the excuse to cut it or privatize it completely. This idea has been lying around for a long time. President George W. Bush pushed for it. So did Joe Biden during his time as a senator. Corporate bailouts have been discussed. Trump has already said taxpayers will be kicking in: “We are working very closely with the cruise-line industry, likewise with the airline industry. They’re two great industries, and we’ll be helping them through this patch.” By “we,” he means the taxpayers. Extending this to the hospitality industry could provide financial benefit to him personally. The president has also met with health-insurance companies, likely to discuss further bailouts.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canadian taxpayers will provide a $82-billion aid package — more than three per cent of annual GDP — which includes $55 billion in tax deferrals to help businesses.

Speculation is now rampant in the media regarding probable change following COVID-19, and social media commentary suggests there is a general acceptance amongst the population things will never be the same again. The climate is therefore prime for the implementation of disaster-capitalism policies.

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..from ccpa

Between a rock and a hard place: Which workers are most vulnerable when their workplaces re-open amid COVID-19?

Key facts:

  • Oil sands and meat packing workers have seen terrifying COVID-19 outbreaks as they’ve stayed open in the first phase of the pandemic. 
    • Child care workers, construction labourers, servers, cashiers, and bus drivers have almost identical high risk scores as industrial butchers but ,so far, they have been protected due to layoffs.
    • The risk of COVID-19 infection for oil sands workers is high but hairstylists, barbers, elementary school assistants, dental hygienists, and flight attendants have even higher risk scores. Their workplaces have been closed; re-opening puts them at risk.
  • Since February, 1.7 million workers who were at high risk of contracting COVID-19 due to their physical proximity with others at work were protected due to layoffs or reduced work hours.
    • Of those 1.7 million workers, 69% (1.2 million) were women.
  • There are 650,000 workers making $16 an hour or less who are at high risk but have been protected while at home likely relying on the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).
  • Nova Scotia protected, proportionally, the most high risk workers due to its shutdown; Saskatchewan protected the fewest.
    • 383,000 high-risk workers in Quebec and 706,000 in Ontario have been protected while at home.
  • The provinces need to have labour authorities rapidly act on complaints about inadequate COVID-19 protections in the workplace. The federal government should allow recipients to remain on CERB even if they refuse to return to a workplace that is inadequately protected against COVID-19.


With services re-opening, workers will be called back. For many of the recalled workers, their layoff or lost hours will have protected them from COVID-19 exposure at work. If they are at home, they have greater control over limiting their potential exposure to the virus, particularly if they work in occupations that put them in contact with many customers or other workers in their workplace.  While far from perfect, the CERB does provide much better coverage than the old EI system ever did, allowing workers to stay home and have some income to support them.

The goal of the non-essential workplace shutdowns wasn’t to protect workers per se, it was to avoid overwhelming emergency rooms. However, workers in high-risk occupations effectively benefited. That benefit may soon be ending as workplaces open back up and workers must decide whether workplaces are safe and whether they can afford to refuse work that puts them at risk.

Which occupations can’t socially distance?
This analysis examines the physical proximity that workers have to others in their occupation. It uses the O*Net index of physical proximity translated into Canadian data, which provides a score (out of 100) for how close workers get to other customers or other workers. The complete list of occupations and their physical proximity is available here. The list of selected occupations below are just some of those in the high risk of infection category examined in more detail in this analysis.....

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..from above


Even though job and hour losses are roughly equal between genders, their risk upon return is anything but equal.  

Between February and April, 27% of men and 30% of women lost jobs or the majority of hours. However, women are twice as likely to be returning to a job with a high risk of physical proximity.  

Of the 1.7 million high-risk workers protected while at home during the shutdown, 1.2 million of them are women. This compares to 526,000 male workers who are in a high-risk occupation but are also presently at home. 

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New Brunswick employers can't compete with CERB:


Premier Blaine Higgs said he's disappointed that unemployed New Brunswickers aren't applying for jobs in agriculture and fish processing plants, as employers are scrambling to find workers.

Last month, the New Brunswick government banned any new temporary foreign workers from entering the province as a way of reducing the risk of COVID-19. Since then, Premier Blaine Higgs has been calling on New Brunswickers and foreign workers already in the province to fill vacancies in the agricultural and seafood-processing sectors.

"These jobs are crucial to New Brunswick," said Premier Blaine Higgs during Friday's news briefing.

Over the past two days, the provincial government hosted a virtual job fair to help connect New Brunswickers looking for jobs with employers.

But there are still roughly 70,000 people still out of work across the province and Higgs said there are plenty of "well-paying" jobs left that pay up to $23 an hour.

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Second oilsands mine work camp Covid-19 outbreak triggers reassurances


On Wednesday, the province reported there had been five confirmed COVID-19 cases at the Horizon oilsands mine camp operated by Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., the minimum number to declare an outbreak.

A larger outbreak reported last month at the Kearl oilsands mine operated by Imperial Oil Ltd. had grown to 107 cases, it said.

Kearl's ability to continue to operate and produce oil while taking measures to deal with the outbreak has been reassuring for investors, said oilsands analyst Phil Skolnick of Eight Capital.

"At Kearl, there have been no repercussions, production is still going on," he said, adding the industry is expected to continue as normal because Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has declared upstream oil operations essential.

Other oilsands producers throughout the industry are slowing work and reducing staffing levels to reduce the risk of transmission, Skolnick added.


Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Deena Henshaw said Canadian Natural has reacted to the Horizon mine outbreak in an appropriate manner.

"Testing is being offered to all employees, including those without symptoms, and I'm confident that the spread can be contained on this site as all measures are being taken to do this," she said.

She reported speaking with other camp operators in the region earlier this week and found they were co-operative and aware of measures they should be taking before and after an outbreak is discovered.

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Why we should be Matchwomen, not Little Matchgirls

There's nothing new in the ruling class sending working-class people to work in life-threatening conditions, argues Louise Raw

The Daily Mail would have LOVED Hans Christian Anderson’s ‘Little Matchgirl’.

The paper currently castigating teachers’ unions as unpatriotic leftist cowards for not wanting teachers or pupils to die, has been aggressively anti-lockdown for some time – for the working-classes, anyway.

The right have been fairly unanimous in their desire for workers to be forced back to producing profits for the rich – and keeping their children out of the way so they can enjoy that money.

They would doubtless have called Anderson’s Little Matchgirl a ‘hero’.

In the poem, an unnamed child matchseller, bare footed in the snow, succumbs to starvation and exhaustion, dying in the corner of a city street. 

But she does so silently: her death is tragic but decorous: there is no anger or shouting about workers’ rights. Accordingly, she’s rewarded by being lifted into heaven in her dead grandmother’s arms.

Victorian journalists and their readers raised on this nursery staple got quite a shock when they first encountered the REAL matchwomen of East London, during their strike in 1888.

Bryant & May were a household name and huge economic player, with factories around the country and a major export business. The sons of the original Mr Bryant were in charge by 1888: ruthless capitalists in the modern style, working the press, well-connected to senior politicians, and producing vast (20%) profits for shareholders.

They’d formed cartels by buying out rival firms, and driven wages so far down, matchmakers earned LESS than in 1878.  

The results were written on the bodies of the youngest girls; pre-pubescent when they began work and too malnourished to develop properly, they looked small and frail.

Forbidden to unionise, they seemed utterly powerless. Meanwhile the Bryants purchased huge country estates and dined with prime ministers. 

But they underestimated their workforce. The women were mainly Irish in decent, though I’ve discovered some were Jewish as well as protestant: despite religious divides outside the factory they were united within it, with absolute loyalty and solidarity

When the women spoke to the press about their conditions in 1888, Bryant &May were as furious as any NHS manager today when a nurse speaks about lack of PPE. They sacked one girl for ‘whistleblowing’ in an attempt to frighten the rest which backfired spectacularly.

The women laid down their tools and walked out.

As they streamed out of the huge matchworks on Fairfield Road, Bow, they faced an uncertain future – the firm could have, and indeed threatened to, sack them all immediately.

But they used what they had: numbers and unity. Parading the streets of the East End, 1,400 strong, they sang songs about their strike to attract attention and collect funds – people threw coins from windows which the women deftly caught in their work aprons.....

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Amazon Tells Canadian Warehouse Workers They’re Getting a Pay Cut

As Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos prepares to become the first trillionaire in the world, workers at Amazon’s Canadian warehouses have been notified that the company is going to roll back their wages.

According to an internal company memo obtained by PressProgress, Amazon told workers this week it has decided to cancel hero pay that was granted in recognition of hazardous working conditions during the coronavirus pandemic.

A number of workers have tested positive for COVID-19 at its Canadian warehouses, including an outbreak at Amazon’s Balzac, Alberta warehouse plus multiple workers in Bolton, Ontario where the memo was received on May 13.

Titled “COVID-19 wage incentive and and double overtime,” Amazon’s memo states that the company will cancel a $2 wage increase and double overtime pay at the end of the month:

“We are providing a final extension of the temporary $2/hour pay increase and double overtime pay through May 30.” After that, the memo continues, “we will return to our regular pay and overtime structure.”

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In order to access CERB benefits, many in my riding need to rely on predatory cheque cashing services. The solution is clear - we need postal banking now...Niki Ashton

LETTER: The Time for Postal Banking is Now

Dear Minister Morneau,

I am writing today to identify issues facing CERB access for many constituents in my riding. I've heard from many constituents that have applied for the CERB that have had to deal with lengthy wait times. On top of it, many constituents of mine don't have bank accounts which creates problems with accessing the money in a timely fashion - forcing them to find a predatory cheque cashing service that may not even be in their community while losing money as a result of exorbitant fees.

This problem isn't unique to my riding, Canadians across the country are paying the price for decades of Liberal and Conservative deregulation of the banking system that has left far too many unprotected and at the mercy of greedy financial institutions. Since 1990, Canada has lost 1700 banking branches meaning many communities don't have access to banking services. As the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives notes, "In 2010, a study by Vision Critical (commissioned by ING Direct bank before it was taken over by the Bank of Nova Scotia) found that banking fees in Canada were among the highest in the world. More than half of Canadians (55%) have fee-based chequing accounts and, on average, pay $185 per year in fees for these accounts. Credit card rates remain high in spite of 6 Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives low Bank of Canada prime rates. Typical bank card interest rate hovers around 20% annually and department store cards are closer to 30%."

The problems facing First Nations are even more pronounced. Indigenous communities remain largely without banks or credit unions. There are 615 First Nations communities in Canada today and many other Metis and non-status communities. Only 54 of them have bank or credit union branches.

The solution is clear. Canadians need postal banking.....


'I Still Feel At Risk': Essential Workers Speak (radio)

"Safe behaviour and habits are key to economic reopening, say grocery clerk and construction worker...'Do we really have the right to refuse unsafe work?"

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

I sure hope that more people start to support the concept of postal banking. I am shocked at the number of younger people who just seem to dislike Canada Post on principle, especially when the workers dare go on strike. It's depressing. During these social isolation times, getting the mail and waving hello to our postie has been one of the few bright points.



laine lowe wrote:
I sure hope that more people start to support the concept of postal banking. I am shocked at the number of younger people who just seem to dislike Canada Post on principle, especially when the workers dare go on strike. It's depressing. During these social isolation times, getting the mail and waving hello to our postie has been one of the few bright points.

Not only are younger people not writing letters and sending cards in great numbers anymore, but you are talking about a generation that was essentially raised in front of screens, from excessive TV time to parents using their cell phones as pacifiers to give to children while out in public, instead of say talking to children about what they see around them and building their vocabulary. They essentially do not understand the joys or, frankly, the importance of such interactions to overall well being. Many people at my workplace push back against the simple idea that electronic devices like cell phones should be off and away while at work. That also teaches that if you push a button, everything will work right away. This is a mindset that says, "I want it now!" Mail obviously doesn't work that way. I think this might be one of the factors driving the anti-lockdown protests, because it looks like the pandemic won't be resolved "now." It will take patience, and playing with electronic devices does not instill that quality. (That mentality is also detrimental to the persistence that long-term union organizing takes.) I really worry about where this is headed, both in the interim as people forget how to interact in person without an electronic mediator, and in the long term when (not if, when) the electricity and internet crashes as a result of the ecological crisis we are currently racing towards (and if the dire predictions pan out, both will crash).

Edited to add: Left-wing YouTuber Kyle Kulinski did a video explaining that if something is worth doing it will be a challenge and a struggle. I honestly think this was the first time that many of his younger viewers have ever heard that message in their lives.

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Striking New Orleans Sanitation Workers Replaced by Prison Labor

In New Orleans, sanitation workers are in the third week of a strike demanding $150 in weekly hazard pay, PPE, repairs to trucks and a wage increase. The company contracting with New Orleans to pick up garbage, Metro Service Group, has brought in work-release prisoners as temporary replacements. The prisoners are being paid less than the minimum wage. This is one of the striking workers speaking at picket on Tuesday.

Striking worker: “I have seven kids. I be scared to play with my kids some days I go home. I’ve got to stop my daughter at the front door, tell her, 'You can't jump in Daddy’s arms right now. Daddy can’t give you no kiss.’ I’m scared I’m going to get sick.”

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Do you think it's challenging being under quarantine? This video depicts the living conditions for some of the Jamaican and Latin American migrant farmworkers in Ontario. They are the ones who keep the multi-billion dollar agri-food industry alive. They deserve better. #COVID19


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Today is the Day of Action to WIN 21 Paid Sick Days!

Share your paid sick days story!

Tag a frontline hero who deserves paid sick days!

Chalk your sidewalk, put a banner up!

Call your MP or MPP!

Get creative -- & use #PaidSickLeaveSavesLives so we can

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..scroll down for your province

Refusing unsafe work: A step by step guide

The right to refuse unsafe work is one of the three basic health and safety rights achieved by the labour movement, along with the right to know about the hazards in your workplace, and the right to participate in workplace health and safety decisions.

Procedures and circumstances around the right to refuse vary from province to province. Below you’ll find the steps you should take to refuse unsafe work in your jurisdiction.

Check out our fact sheet for more information on the right to refuse.

Order wallet-sized right to refuse cards for your local for free in our web store.

You have the legal right to a healthy and safe workplace.


The law in Alberta states that you shall refuse all unsafe work if you believe there is an imminent danger (that is not normal for the occupation or activity) to yourself or others caused by a tool, appliance, equipment or work procedure at the worksite, according to Section 35 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Here’s how you can refuse unsafe work:

  1. Notify your employer at the worksite that you are refusing work because you don’t think it is safe, and state your reason for refusal.
  2. The supervisor must investigate and take action to eliminate the danger. There must be a written record of your notification, the investigation, and action taken. A copy of the report must be provided to you.
  3. If, in your opinion, a danger still exists, you can file a complaint with a government occupational health and safety officer.
  4. The officer shall investigate the complaint, and document actions taken in a written report. A copy of the report must be provided to you.
  5. If you are not satisfied with the officer’s report and recommendations, you must legally return to work, but may appeal the report within 30 days.

You cannot be disciplined or dismissed for complying with the legislation, according to Section 36 of the Act.

British Columbia

As a worker in British Columbia, you must not carry out work or cause work to be carried out if you believe a work process, or operation of a tool or equipment, would create an imminent danger to yourself or others, according to the Workers’ Compensation Act (Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, Section 3.12).

Here’s how you can refuse unsafe work:

  1. Notify your supervisor or employer of the unsafe condition, and your refusal to work.
  2. The supervisor or employer must investigate and remedy the situation without delay, and inform you of the results.
  3. If you are not satisfied with the remedy, you can still refuse to work.
  4. The supervisor or employer must conduct an investigation with you and the workers’ health and safety representative, or a union representative.
  5. If the investigation does not resolve the matter, you or your employer must inform an officer of the Workers’ Compensation Board to investigate.

You cannot be disciplined for complying with the legislation and regulations, according to the Workers’ Compensation Act (Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, Section 3.13).....


Shopify, now Canada's most valuable company, recently surpassing RBC, is shifting its employees to work from home. 


Tell Amazon To Pay Their Workers A Fair Wage

"Over the weekend, Amazon quietly cut their workers' pay - this coming on the tail of news that their founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, is said to become the world's first trillionaire..."

How better for trillionaire number one to celebrate such an occasion? Guess that takes you to the top of the list Jeff. Never forget the old saw often proves true: 'The bigger they come the harder they fall.'



Wolff Responds: Trump's Executive Orders

"It is called forced labor..."


White House adviser Kevin Hassett: 'Our human capital stock is ready to go back to work.' (and vid)

How capitalists/politicians really view workers.

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