BMO fires 1000 despite making record multi-billion dollar profits
The Bank of Montreal laid off the equivalent of nearly 1,000 positions, while making a record profit of $4.2 billion for the fiscal year. BMO claimed they downsized their workforce to reduce expenses and make the bank’s overall operations more “efficient.” 730 of the jobs eliminated came from their Canadian personal and commercial banking operations. Canada’s big five banks together made $7.3 billion in the first quarter of 2013 alone.
CUPW asks Canadians to join it in fighting Canada Post’s phase out of home mail delivery
Canada Post announced they plan to phase out home mail delivery and cut as many as 8000 positions. The corporation has said financial losses necessitate the change, but it has made a profit every year since 2000, except for 2012. The move, which will particularly hurt senior citizens and people with disabilities, follows recommendations from a report by the Conference Board of Canada – a report that was actually commissioned by Canada Post. In a case of conflict of interest, Deepak Chopra, the CEO of Canada Post, also sits on the board of directors of the Conference Board of Canada. “Where many postal operators are responding to a changing postal business with innovation, Canada Post is relying on cuts and rate increases,” CUPW president Denis Lemelin said. CUPW has, for many years, proposed that Canada Post use its wide network to establish a banking service, successfully done in other countries. Members of CUPW engaged in sit-ins in parlementarians’ offices late last week.
Polls back Ontario government continuing support for Green Energy Act
The Ontario government will no longer require renewable energy developers to use local suppliers, bowing to a widely criticized WTO decision. The WTO had challenged Ontario’s Green Energy Act, which had created more than 30,000 jobs by requiring clean energy enterprises to buy a certain portion of their inputs from Ontario in order to qualify for “feed-in-tariff energy prices.” The WTO found that the Ontario policy discriminates against foreign suppliers. Critics said options remained for Ontario to comply with the ruling while still preserving the vital job creation component of the Green Energy Act. A poll found that 73 percent of Ontarians feel that the World Trade Organization should not be able to override Ontario’s plans to encourage investment in green renewable energy.
Harper’s vast assault on programs and services documented
Over its eight years in power, the Harper government has embarked on a thoroughgoing project to dismantle the social programs and services that Canadians won through decades of political struggle. The government has kept no official list of what programs and organizations have been impacted or eliminated, but the Toronto Star compiled a detailed list showing more than 100 cuts under the Harper government, impacting EI, pensions, healthcare, women’s and Indigenous organizations, and environmental bodies. By 2017, it is estimated the Conservatives will have reduced spending by a total of $13.6 billion since 2010. Meanwhile, they have foregone an estimated $23 billion a year with cuts to the GST and corporate tax breaks.
New non-partisan anti-union group emerges as Tories push labour issues to the forefront
A new, anti-union coalition was founded in Ontario to support Tim Hudak’s anti-worker policies. The spokesperson of the “Working Canadians” coalition, Catherine Swift, is the chair of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, an organization that is funded by Merit Canada, which lobbies for open shop construction companies. The coalition seems to be modelled on the Working Families Coalition, a group that has constantly opposed the rhetoric of the Progressive Conservatives. Swift told the Toronto Star that they hope to directly challenge the anti-Tory message of the Working Families Coalition.
Nurses union takes aim at Cornwall hospital over flu shots
The Ontario Nurses Association has accused several Ontario hospitals of trying to shame nurses into getting the flu shot. ONA argues that this approach ignores the professionalism and knowledge of nurses and feeds the false notion that the flu shot alone will prevent the spread of infectious disease. They instead want the Government of Ontario to implement a compressive, province-wide infection control strategy that respects nurses.
UVic faculty clears key hurdle to forming a union
Professors and librarians at the University of Victoria have signedthe necessary number of union cards to organize a union. Over its 50-year history, the UVic Faculty Association has not been a formal union, operating instead as a professional organization without the benefits that union recognition provides. A vice-president of the Faculty Association said that unionization is necessary for their members to be able to grieve working conditions, tenure policies and long-term disability regulations. In Canada, most faculty associations are formal unions, with exceptions at some large institutions like the University of Toronto and McMaster.
Union at Mirabel, Trudeau airports rejects contract offer
Blue-collar workers at Montreal’s Trudeau and Mirabel airports have rejected management’s most recent contact offer. At issue are wages and management’s desire to contract out many of the services performed by the 260 workers. Workers have been without a contract for more than a year and perform general maintenance and snow removal at both airports. Management has issued a statement insisting that a legal strike is not possible between now and the holidays.
Nova Scotia Teachers Union president concerned with child poverty
Members of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union are concerned about the impact that child poverty is having on their students. The union responded to the 2013 Report Card on Child Poverty that showed that child poverty in Nova Scotia has reached 17.3 per cent. The union’s president called on the federal and provincial government to increase income supports and create tax policies that better distribute wealth.
Alberta unions challenge draconian anti-labour, anti-free speech government bills
The Alberta Union of Public Employees has launched legal challenges against the Redford government’s passing of two draconian bills that undermine basic rights to free speech and collective bargaining. Both bills were passed through legislature without public consultation. Both have been protested by labour and criticized in the establishment media. AUPE filed suit against Bill 46, which undermines the collective bargaining rights of public workers by removing the right to binding arbitration. They soon plan to also legally challenge Bill 45, which makes it an offence to even talk about preparing for a wildcat strike – fining members of the union and the public for doing so – while penalizing unions $1.25 milllion per day if they go on strike.