Top labour stories this week: 'Solidarity Friday,' Harper public service cuts, Bill C-377 update

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Each week top labour stories are compiled and summarized by our labour reporter, Lori Theresa Waller. If you have a suggestion for next week's list, contact lori[at]rabble[dot]ca 


U.S. Wal-Mart workers on nationwide walkout today

Wal-Mart employees across the U.S. are walking out en masse today, Black Friday -- the country's biggest shopping day of the year. Organizers, who are fed up with low pay, poor working conditions and retaliation against workers who complain, are expecting up to 1,000 stores will be affected. Supporters are being asked to help by sponsoring a striker


Study reveals high breast cancer risk for auto workers

Women working the automotive plastics industry are almost five times as likely to develop breast cancer as other women, according to a study published earlier this week the journal Environmental Health. The Canadian Auto Workers union responded by calling for better regulations and a public inquiry or commission on exposure to dangerous chemicals in the plastics industry.


Conservative MPs and PMO staff meeting with anti-union group on Bill C-377

A bill tabled by a Conservative MP that would force unions to publicly disclose detailed financial information triggered more alarm among labour groups this week. Lobbying records reveal that  fourteen Conservative MPs and senior staff members have had closed-door meetings over the past month with Merit Canada, an anti-union group and enthusiastic fan of the bill.


Harper government ahead of schedule on job cuts; nearly 11,000 positions eliminated

In the past six moths, the Conservative government has already eliminated close to 11,000 jobs from the public service. That's more than half of the 19,000 total its plans to cut over the next three years. While the Conservatives insist the cuts will not affect service levels, but unions say service delivery has already taken a hit. The largest number of job losses were in the department of public safety.


Court will review decision to permit foreign temporary workers in B.C. mine

 The Federal Court has ruled it will hear the case from two unions pushing for the revocation of permits granted to mining companies to import hundreds of foreign temporary workers to B.C. Meanwhile, the United Steelworkers union has filed a complaint with the provincial mines ministry about the safety conditions for foreign workers in the mines.


Federal department violated labour code in fatal heating plant accident

 The federal public works department pled guilty Tuesday to violating the labour code in 2009, when the explosion of a boiler at an Ottawa heating plant killed a worker.


College workers throughout B.C. hold two-day strike

 Three thousand support staff at six different colleges in B.C. walked off the job this past week. The workers have been without a contract for two years. The government agreed to meet with the workers' union representatives following the two days of strikes.

Saskatchewan minister announces changes to labour law at business lunchSaskatchewan's labour minister announced proposed changes to the province's labour law last Friday during a business association luncheon. Unions were taken aback by the announcement, saying the minister made no mention of the changes to when he spoke a few weeks ago at a Saskatchewan Federation of Labour convention. The new changes will be introduced to the legislature sometime before December 6. 


Deals reached for Ontario high school teachers at some boards; elementary teachers start job action

 Following job action this week and last, Ontario high school teachers in several school boards reached tentative agreements on new contract terms. Elementary school teachers have not, and in some boards have started work-to-rule action.


Lori Theresa Waller is's labour reporter. 

Photo: Overpass Light Brigade

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