Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Sask. Party government continues their reckless assault on Charter Rights

The Sask. Party government under the leadership of Brad Wall continues their reckless assault on the constitutional rights of the citizens of our province. Now they are trying to silence dissent. (see Bill 43)

Reminds me of the actions of some "tin-pot" dictatorship.

COPE 397 President, Garry Hamblin's letter to the editor about it (reproduced below) appears in the April 29, 2009 edition of the Regina Leader-Post:

Trespass law erodes rights

It was with rising concern that I read of the Saskatchewan Party's rejection of the amendment to Bill 43, The Trespass to Property Act, that recently passed in the legislature.

The Trespass Act (the first of its kind in Saskatchewan) will make it illegal for anyone to be on public property without the consent of the government. This will include persons who engage in demonstrations, protests and marches. Other provinces have similar laws, but Saskatchewan will be the only province where no exemption for peaceful demonstration or protest exists. This exemption was the subject of the amendment that the NDP opposition was trying to get accepted.

Justice Minister Don Morgan says the right to demonstrate exists whether spelled out in the Trespass Act or not, so no exemption is needed. If this is true, then why not simply spell these rights out as per the Manitoba legislation that the law is modeled on? The Manitoba law clearly sets out an exemption for peaceful demonstration, picketing and so on.

Saskatchewan's legislation tramples on the rights of every resident by curtailing their ability to gather in peaceful protest or demonstration if they so choose, without the permission of the prevailing government.

When governments take away the rights of citizens to peacefully demonstrate, one can only wonder what future legislation they are contemplating that they think residents won't like.

With issues such as nuclear power, changes in services offered by Crown corporations, privatization of public services and others looming, one doesn't have to speculate too hard.

Garry Hamblin, President, Canadian Office and Professional Employees Local 397.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Mesothelioma: The human face of an asbestos epidemic

"Mesothelioma is an incurable asbestos cancer. This short film was produced to raise awareness of the issues around mesothelioma. It includes interviews with people who have the disease. It was produced for Action Mesothelioma day on belhalf of Forum of Asbestos Victim Support Groups." - calderdaletv

Sunday, 26 April 2009

No Transparency = No Accountability = No Democracy

I've been following citizen blogger Joe Kuchta over on the Owls and Roosters Blog, and it's starting to become alarming that the Brad Wall Sask. Party government continues to reject legitimate requests by Mr. Kuchta under the The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIP).

It appears that anything Mr. Kuchta requests which has anything to do with labour laws, gets the same response. Rejection.
His most recent posting in this regard brings the total rejections he has received for information requested in the past year from the Ministry of Advanced Education Employment and Labour (previously the Department of Labour) to nine (9).

What is so sensitive and secret that the government finds it necessary to hide what it is doing, under the direction of Minister Rob Norris, on the labour file? Does anybody in the mainstream media care about this?

The continued refusal by the government to provide access to information in the area of labour legislation, as requested by Mr. Kuchta, stinks to high heaven.

Don't blame CAW for a crisis it didn't create

The open letter below is reproduced from the website.

Don't blame CAW for a crisis it didn't create

Government pressure to cut wages will increase the risk of deflation. It is now abundantly clear that Canada and the world is facing its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

However, a sense of premature Hoover-type optimism seems to have settled in to Ottawa's thinking, breeding a dangerous complacency that the government has done all that is required to combat the recession. The federal government appears to be hiding behind the proposition that with strong banks and strong fundamentals, the Canadian economy will automatically recover as U.S. demand picks up.

The Bank of Canada has lowered its interest rate to a near-zero level and has provided banks with billions of dollars of liquid assets to counter the recession and potential deflationary expectations. It is concerned that deflation, or falling prices, will become generalized throughout the economy. And once the cycle becomes entrenched, as it did during the 1930s, it will be extremely difficult to reverse.

The federal government's fiscal stimulus package is beginning to inject demand into the economy to counteract the contraction of private sector demand, although many economists argue that a federal deficit of about 2 per cent of GDP is too little given the powerful headwinds the nation faces. Unemployment insurance, though greatly weakened by previous governments (most recently the self-financing rule imposed by the 2008 Budget) will also help somewhat cushion the fall in demand.

Government is the player responsible for the overall management of the economy. At a time like this it is the only player that is capable of overriding destructive contractionary impulses of private businesses and households.

The federal government is undermining the effectiveness of its own stimulus efforts by freezing wages of its own employees and by forcing massive auto sector wage concessions (which incidentally will not solve the auto crisis) as a condition of providing financial support to the industry.

It also sends a contradictory signal to business that somehow this “belt-tightening” is good for the economy as a whole. On the contrary, it will only make matters worse.

While it may be rational for an individual firm trying to stay afloat, to lay off workers, reduce working hours, and/or push for wage reductions; if this becomes an economy-wide phenomenon the resulting downward wage-price purchasing power spiral, if unchecked, will deepen and prolong the recession.

This is what happened during the Great Depression. The deflationary cycle became entrenched. Massive price declines in both the US and Canada were matched by a similar drop in average wages. Keynes argued for nominal wage anchors to stem the downward spiral.

One of the things Roosevelt did when he came to power in 1933 was to support the Wagner Act, which strengthened unions, setting a floor on wages and initiating a process of rising wages, prices and production.

The current economic crisis was caused by the meltdown of the bloated US financial sector, not by “exorbitant” auto or public service sector wages. Forced wage rollbacks will cascade through the economy reducing purchasing power and demand, offsetting the very thing the government is trying to reverse with its stimulus policies. The collapse of the auto sector (just like the collapse of the financial sector) will most certainly turn the current recession into a deep depression.

Rather than scapegoating the CAW for a crisis it did not cause, the federal government should focus its efforts on combating the pressures of wage-driven deflation, maintaining income and employment, and using public dollars to buy transformation of the auto industry away from gas-guzzlers to the low emission vehicles of the future. Industrial policies like this have been an important part of the development of the auto industry and are needed once again.


Armine Yalnizyan, Senior Economist, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Arthur Donner PhD, Economic Consultant
Bruce Campbell, Executive Director, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Charlotte Yates, Labour Studies and Political Science, McMaster University
Diane-Gabrielle Tremblay, Télé-université de l'Université du Québec a Montreal
Frédéric Hanin, Département des relations industrielles, Université Laval
Harold Chorney, Political Economy, Concordia University
Jean-Noël Grenier, Département des relations industrielles, Faculté des sciences sociales, Université Laval
Gordon Laxer, Political Economist and Director of the Parkland Institute at the University of Alberta
Louis Gill, Department of Economics, Université du Québec à Montréal
Louis-Philippe Rochon, Department of Economics, Laurentian University
Marc Lavoie, Department of Economics, University of Ottawa
Margie Mendell, School of Community and Public Affairs, Concordia University
Mario Seccarreccia, Department of Economics, University of Ottawa
Marjorie Griffin Cohen, Department of Political Science/Women's Studies, Simon Fraser University
Mel Watkins, Department of Economics (emeritus), University of Toronto
Myron J. Frankman, Department of Economics, McGill University
Pierre-Antoine Harvey, Économiste, Chercheur à l’Institut de recherche et d’informations socio-économiques (IRIS)
Ricardo Grinspun, Department of Economics, York University
Robert Chernomas, Department of Economics, University of Manitoba
Ruth Rose, Sciences économiques, Université du Québec à Montréal
Sylvie Morel, Département des relations industrielles, Université Laval
Trevor Harrison, Political Economist and Political Sociology, University of Lethbridge

Monday, 20 April 2009

The trouble with CEO pay in Canada: CCPA

More at:

Public services a bargain for Canadians: Study CCPA

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has released a report showing that public spending in Canada is an incredible bargain and a huge positive benefit for Canadian citizens.

From the CCPA Web-Site:

Public services a bargain for Canadians: Study

April 15, 2009

TORONTO – The majority of Canadian households enjoy a higher quality of life because the public services their taxes fund come at a solid bargain, according to a new study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

Canada’s Quiet Bargain: The Benefits of Public Spending responds to incessant calls for tax cuts and concludes public services make a significant contribution to the majority of Canadians’ standard of living – worth at least 50% of their income.

“What passes for a tax cut debate in Canada is really only half a debate,” says economist Hugh Mackenzie, the study’s co-author and CCPA research associate.

“Our taxes pay for services that are extremely valuable to Canadians. The suggestion we often hear, that taxes are a burden, hides the reality that our taxes fund public services that make Canada’s standard of living among the very best.”

The study shows middle-income Canadian families enjoy public services worth about $41,000 – or 63% of their income. Even households earning $80,000-$90,000 a year enjoy public services benefits equivalent to about half of their income.

The study also shows 80% of Canadians would be better off if the federal government hadn’t cut the GST; 75% would be better off if their provincial governments invested in public services instead of broad-based income tax cuts; and 88% would be better off without federal cuts to capital gains taxes.

“Tax cuts are always made to sound like they’re free money to middle-income Canadians – they are anything but,” says Mackenzie. “We’re far better off with the public services our taxes fund than we are with tax cuts.”

-- 30 --

For more information please contact: Kerri-Anne Finn (613) 563-1341 x 306. Visit or to download the report and calculate the value of your family’s public services.

Download the Report/Study:
Canada's Quiet Bargain: The Benefits of Public Spending - PDF File, 1343 Kb
Fact Sheet: Public services...a quiet bargain - PDF File, 198 Kb

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Tax Shell Game: The Taxpayer Cost of Offshore Corporate Havens

You should read this report!: The Tax Shell Game. It's short and concise and has just been released by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. No wonder the world's economy and the global financial system is in a state of collapse. No wonder governments are reeling under the burden of corporate bailout driven deficits.

The largest corporations on the planet have, for too long, been engaged in a massive tax shell game consisting of tax avoidance, flight of capital, asset manipulation, ponzi schemes, and the like.

Too many huge corporations offload paying their fair share for maintaining a civil society onto the backs of working men and women world wide. Then these same corrupt and greedy corporate gougers drive those same companies into the ground and we pay to keep them afloat. Keep them afloat for what reason? So they can continue to avoid any responsibility whatsover, and continue to ride along for free?

It's time they paid their fair share!

There's a great quote by Howard Zinn that fits this situation to a tee:
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves, and all the while the grand thieves are running and robbing the country. That's our problem."

Friday, 17 April 2009

Brad Wall government destroys Labour Market Commission

The Brad Wall Sask Party government has destroyed the provincial organization that relies on business and labour co-operation.

Despite supporting its creation while in opposition, the Brad Wall government has announced that it has eliminated funding for the Saskatchewan Labour Market Commission (SaskLMC).

The SaskLMC, a collaborative and cooperative organization which included representatives from business, labour, training institutions, aboriginal organizations, the social economy and government, was originally established through legislation supported by the Sask. Party while in opposition in 2007. Its mandate included providing advice to government on labour market issues, trends and strategies.

The SaskLMC was co-chaired by Holly Hetherington, first Vice-President of the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce and Larry Hubich, the President of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour.

The Sask. Party government killed the SaskLMC in its March budget, for what appears to be purely partisan political reasons. It was an important vehicle for business and labour to work together. We all know that these two constituencies are often at odds with each other, so what possible reason could the government have for scrapping it?

When the Sask. Party was elected they said they would reach out to labour. This latest action is not ‘reaching out’, it’s more like ‘shutting out’ the contribution of labour from planning and policy.

The dismantling of the SaskLMC actually began in the fall of 2008, when the Sask. Party government introduced unilateral amendments to the SaskLMC act. Bill 46 reduced the size of the Commission and removed the legislative requirement for government to "consult" with business and labour in the appointment of the business and labour members on the Commission.

In addition, the amendments eliminated the position on the SaskLMC dedicated to the "social economy". The role of the social economy representative had been to bring forward the perspective of the working poor who need access to skills training in order to climb out of poverty. The Sask. Party clearly signaled at that time that they were not interested in addressing the needs of more disadvantaged workers when developing a labour market strategy.

It appears to us that this government is only interested in a labour force development strategy that addresses the needs of a certain segment of business. The SaskLMC was also a key opportunity to facilitate women entering non-traditional work in order to meet skills shortages.

All of these amendments, including the final blow to the SaskLMC, occurred with absolutely zero consultation with key stakeholders of the Commission. These were top-down decisions made in the back-rooms of the government's inner circle, and delivered as a fait accompli to the people who have spent the past two years laying the ground work for a truly industry driven and collaborative initiative.

That’s incredibly frustrating for those of us who believe in the organization and in the need to work in co-operation where we can.
See Leader-Post coverage here: Funding cut to Sask. Labour Market Commission

Pacifica Radio at 60: KPFA Remains a Sanctuary of Dissent Six Decades After Its Founding - Democracy Now!

Today marks the sixtieth anniversary of Pacifica Radio. On April 15th, 1949 at 3:00 p.m., a charismatic conscientious objector named Lewis Hill sat before a microphone and said, “This is KPFA Berkeley.” With that, KPFA went on the air, and the first listener-supported radio station in the United States was born. Pacifica Radio is the oldest independent media network in the United States, and its sixtieth birthday comes as a deepening crisis engulfs mainstream media. To commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of Pacifica Radio today, we feature a documentary about the first Pacifica Radio station: KPFA in Berkeley. It’s called KPFA on the Air by filmmakers Veronica Selver and Sharon Wood and narrated by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker. [includes rush transcript] - see more here...

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Brad Wall hires anti-union U.S. based law firm to lobby Washington

(Photo: Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Sask. Party Premier Brad Wall announced Wednesday, April 15, 2009 that he was hiring the South Carolina based law firm of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP to represent Saskatchewan's interests in Washington, D.C. specifically, and in the United States generally.

What the Premier neglected to announce is that some of the areas Nelson Mullins specializes in is defeating union certification drives and advising companies on union avoidance.
see here: Union Avoidance and Counseling
and here: National Labor Relations Board Proceedings

Considering that U.S. President Obama supports unions - I wonder if that was such a good choice.

Monday, 13 April 2009

The Power to Change Things, Labour Rights as Human Rights

Dr. Elaine Bernard, Executive Director of the Harvard Trade Union Program at Harvard Law School recently wrote a piece that appears in the Dec/Jan issue of Our Times magazine entitled "The Power to Change Things, Labour Rights as Human Rights".

It is reproduced below:

The Power to Change Things
Labour Rights as Human Rights

By Elaine Bernard

Up until the Cold War ended, human rights activists tended to focus on individual "prisoners of conscience," emphasizing the denial of a narrow set of political freedoms. And labour rights tended to be only the concern of unions. Although occasionally included in human rights campaigns as an expression of the freedom of association, they generally took a back seat to political freedom of expression. But with the end of the Cold War, and with the tremendous organizing and education done by the global solidarity movement, from global unions, to anti- sweatshop activists, to the world global forum, we've seen a renewed interest in a more robust and full expression of human rights - one that includes economic rights.

Economic Rights

Some of the economic rights listed in Article 25 of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights, signed 60 yeas ago, include the provision that "everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control." Also, explicitly listed in Article 23 is the right to form and join trade unions.

The relationship between political and economic rights is rather self-evident. Political rights, including freedom of association and the right to organize, are the foundation upon which communities build power, advocate for their interests and seek their share of society's resources.

The inclusion of economic rights as fundamental human rights demands that we go further than simply saying that the state, employers and courts should "allow" workers, citizens, and communities to form organizations to attempt to win contracts, legislation and rights. Rather, these institutions themselves should be promoting organizing, and justice, and economic equality.

For example, the default position of labour law should be one that assumes employees have the right to a democratic, collective voice, and to participate in decision-making in the workplace.

Instead, the natural state of the workplace is assumed to be one where employees have no right to participate in decision-making. And most labour laws consist of regulations over how employees will prove majority support for unionizing, gain recognition as the sole bargainingagent, and successfully bargain a collective agreement.

This, in fact, is why we need unions more than ever: to fight for the economic justice that Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights describes.

Union Density

Today, union density in Canada has slipped just below 30 per cent, with 72 per cent of the public sector organized, but only 17 per cent of the private sector organized. However, with just under one out of three workers a union member, unions still set the standard for wages and working conditions, not only for their members, but often for the non-union sector as well. So, this decline in strength, density and influence of the labour movement as a whole must be a concern for everyone - whether union member or not. The decline in union density has led to stagnating and/or declining wages and benefits of private sector workers, undermining the entire community. In a Hobbesian world of labour markets, no one sector or group can remain an island of good wages and working standards in a sea of declining standards and conditions.

In addition to the economic impact, the decline in unions has also had a detrimental impact on our democracy. Rights at work, including freedom of association and the right to form unions and collectively bargain, are key underpinnings of a democratic society. Unions, as institutions, and union members as skilled organizers, supported and provided resources, activists and inspiration for many other social movements. As well, unions sought, through public policy initiatives and political action, to practice social solidarity: winning benefits first for their members, thorough collective bargaining, and then spreading them to the rest of the workforce through political action and support for government social programs.

Alexis de Tocqueville, writing in the early 1800s, observed that "in democratic countries, knowledge of how to combine is the mother of all other forms of knowledge; on its progress depends that of all the others." Where, but through the labour movement, do millions of workers in Canada learn how to democratically combine, not into an exclusive community of their own choosing, but, as a workforce hired by an employer, moulded into a community though union organizing.

Labour Rights as Human Rights

The centrality of work in people's lives, both as a location where we spend considerable time but also as the only source of income for the majority of people, makes the issue of labour rights and what happens to people in the workplace vital for all Canadians. The workplace is a unique location within which most of us spend many of our waking hours, and where many important decisions are made that affect our lives and the lives of our neighbours.

Without a union as a vehicle for collective voice and action, individual workers are powerless. How can workers spend eight or more hours a day in workplaces where they have no right, legal or otherwise, to participate in crucial decisions that affect them, and then engage in robust, critical dialogue about our society after hours? Eventually the strain of being deferential servants with few rights from nine to five diminishes our after-hours liberty and sense of civic entitlement andresponsibility.

Unions as Schools for Democracy

A crucial but little-appreciated role of the labour movement is that it builds democratic communities - that's one of the key things that unions do. By bringing together workers, who have few rights, who are isolated as individuals and often competing against each other, unions forge a community in the workplace among workers. They help workers understand that they have rights, and they provide a vehicle for exercising those rights. Beyond the defence and promotion of individual union members' rights, unions also provide a collective voice for workers. They provide a powerful check to the almost total power of management in the workplace. And they fight for the right of workers to participate in decision-making in theworkplace.

But labour movements and other communities of common interest don't just happen. They have to be consciously constructed, with a lot of hard work, discussion and organization. Constructing democratic communities in the workplace or anywhere is an ongoing process, rather like democracy. And, like democracy, it's a process that can be rolled back or reversed.

Organizing the Organized

Organizing is important, but it needs to be more than simply signing up new members. Rather, the future of unions and their power rests with an informed, committed membership who understand that they are the union and that the power of the union rests with them. Today, the vast majority of union members were not won to the labour movement through their participation in organizing campaigns. Rather, they became union members by getting a job in a unionized workplace, with membership seen as simply one more automatic deduction from a dwindling pay cheque. Occasionally, workers might purposely seek out a unionized workplace because they are aware of the union advantage. However, just as often, they associate the "good job with good benefits" as simply a feature of the industry or company. So, a further organizing challenge for unions is learning to transform these inactive and potentially reluctant "dues payers" into informed, committed, union activists.

Why are workers who come to the labour movement through an organizing campaign different than those who simply join an existing union? Because, when workers decide to organize, they are deciding to take a stand, and to transform their workplace. And, in the process, they transform themselves and their co-workers. An organizing drive may start with a few workers talking about specific problems and grievances but, before long, they are broadening their critique to include general issues of dignity and their right to a say in the workplace.

Successful organizing campaigns are not just an explosion of grievances against the employer; they are also a positive assertion by workers that they are more than hands for hire and that they have a right to negotiate the terms and conditions of their employment. Not surprisingly, union members gained through new union organizing are among the most committed and enthusiastic activists.

And for all of the discussion about density and structures, the key place where this transformation happens is in the local union. New members don't join the national office, or even the regional body. The union local is: where members join the union; where members experience the union; where membersbecome involved in the union; and where members shape the character of the union.

Local Strength

The hundreds of local unions across Canada are the keystone of the labour movement because they're the springboard for membership participation and leadership development (whether in unions, politics or community). It's the experience members have at the local level that determines whether they will see their union as just an agency, or whether they will grow to understand that the power of the union is not in its full-time staff and officers (with the power entering and leaving the workplace with the visits by the staff reps) but rather is embodied in the membership and is in the workplace at all times whenever union members are present. And it iscommitted activist members who are the best promoters and organizers of unions.

This raises an important challenge: as unions seek to centralize resources and build regional and national capacity, do they weaken locals and their role as a vehicle for membership engagement?

Unions must build quantitative strength through growth, but, equally, they must meet the challenge to build qualitative strength through involving greater numbers of members in the activities of the union. Unions, to succeed, must be more than instruments for winning wages and resolving workplace grievances. The vital role of unions is as schools for democracy in a society where there are very few places where we actually get to practice democratic decision-making. And there is no more important place for workers to be able to exercise their rights than at the centre of the production or provision of goods, services and caretaking - the workplace.

In short, unions are the premier institution of a free, democratic society, promoting democracy in the workplace, as well as economic and social justice, and equality. They have this role because they are instruments of transformation of members and of society at large. And in this wonderful transformation rests the real power of unions and their vital role as advocates and vehicles forhuman rights.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Sixty years ago, on December 10, 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations unanimously adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The impetus for this remarkable document was global revulsion over the carnage and horrors of the Second World War. An estimated 70 million people died as a result of the war, including tens of millions of civilian victims of war-related catastrophes such as famine. Three years after this most destructive war in human history, the world community recognized "the inherent dignity" and "the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family."

Unfortunately, shortly after its adoption, this remarkable consensus document became a victim of the Cold War, with human rights becoming a politically-charged term to be used selectively as yet another propaganda tool. - E. B.

Transforming Power

Is a union's goal merely to lobby power, and use the political influence of its leaders to get a little more for its members? Or is it to help transform power in society as a whole by extending democracy to the workplace and the economic sphere and, ultimately, to break up concentrations of power, influence and wealth? If labour's goal is the transformation of power, then it means leading a democratic struggle throughout society and within workplaces. It means constructing democratic unions and moving beyond a strategy of simply seeking to lobby those in power, whether by militant or cooperative strategies, and, instead, building a democratic alternative to the concentration of power and wealth. - E. B.

Elaine Bernard, a labour educator from Canada, is executive director of Harvard University's Labor and Worklife Program.

Public service workers safeguard Saskatchewan: SGEU

Friday, 10 April 2009

Greed - The Wall Street Way

Community unionism: Saskatchewan's tradition

The May 2009 issue of the SFL Labour Reporter was released this week. You can download a PDF Version here. The lead article is entitled "Community unionism: Saskatchewan's tradition" and is reproduced below:

Community unionism: Saskatchewan’s tradition

Unions have an uphill battle getting our message out through the mainstream media. Workers don’t own the media. And in Canada, the mainstream media is increasingly owned and controlled by just a few big corporations.

So how do we tell our stories to our communities? One way is through alternative sources of media, like the Making the Links Radio program, featured on page 3.

Another way unions reach communities is through our partnerships with groups like the United Way. Unions have always supported anti-poverty groups and community organizing groups like the Station 20 West project, featured on page 2.

Unions also create strong communities by being politically active. We have a long, strong history of fighting for social programs that benefit everyone, like medicare, employment insurance, pensions, vacations, and the minimum wage.

Unions have always been on the forefront of the struggle for human rights, including women’s rights and gender equality. That’s why when the Harper government wants to roll back women’s rights, they don’t just take away funding for women’s organizations. They impose fines on unions for helping their own members to achieve pay equity (see page 6 and 7).

And remember, union members also literally build communities – our building trades unions create and maintain the infrastructure we all rely upon. The Sask. Party government’s recent attack on the building trades, featured on pages 4 and 5, is an attack on the longest-serving trade unions in the province.

Both the Harper and Wall governments try to break the union movement because we get in the way of their vision of society, one that is marked by corporate greed, the growing gap in income inequality, and the rolling back of our rights.

Saskatchewan unions, on the other hand, stand for a society where we share the resources more equally, both at work and in the community.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

The secrecy continues - What are you trying to hide?

For the 8th time in the past several months, the Sask. Party government through officials in the Ministry of Advanced Education, Employment and Labour (formerly the Department of Labour), have refused a citizen request for information under the The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

Citizen blogger, Joe Kuchta, over at the "Owls and Roosters Blog" has revealed the sorry tale of secrecy, and government refusal to disclose information, in his recent posting entitled: "Advanced Education, Employment and Labour refusing to disclose OH&S and Workers’ Compensation Act records; 8th denial since May 2008".

I have this question for Premier Wall and AEEL Minister Norris - "Why the secrecy, and why do you find it necessary to hide what you are doing on the labour file?"