Sunday, 31 May 2009

GM to declare bankruptcy - The Real News



"GM bankruptcy restructuring puts risk on to workers; no vision for a green transportation system

Frank Hammer is a retired General Motors employee and former President and Chairman of Local 909 in Warren, MIchigan. He now organizes with the Auto Worker Caravan, an association of active and retired auto workers who advocate for workers demands in Washington." -
The REAL News

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Wage Theft in Saskatchewan


.
Coming up to 2 years ago, I posted a blog article entitled: Regina Restaurant Rips Off Workers.

It's a sorry tale of about how the owners of a restaurant called Poverino's Pasta Grill in Regina, Saskatchewan closed up their doors unannounced and left approximately 135 (most young and student) workers holding the bag and cheated out of over $62,000.00 in unpaid wages.

In other words, the owners of Poverino's Pasta Grill stole over $62,000 from a bunch of unsuspecting, trusting, and obviously vulnerable young workers.

So, in the 2 years since Poverino's closed the doors, and the nearly 2 years since they were found by the Department/Ministry of Labour to be guilty of violating the Saskatchewan Labour Standards Act and cheating the workers out of their wages. And since Poverino's has been ordered to pay the 62 grand to the workers, how much money do you think those 135 have received?

Well, according to my information, NOT A SINGLE NICKEL.

At a recent meeting with officials of the Ministry of Labour, I raised this matter again. I was attending a consultation meeting regarding the governments plans to reduce the minimum age of work to 15, in sectors including the notoriously bad "restaurant industry". I said I was skeptical and concerned that young workers would be protected because they aren't being adequately protected now. I questioned why individual workers should have the responsibility for enforcing the governments laws. Why is it necessary for a student to take an employer to court, in order for the employer to comply with the laws of the land? That's the government's job.

This past week, I received the response linked here. It confirms that employers can get away with theft by "positioning themselves in a 'judgment proof' environment".

What do you think would happen if one of those workers took $62,000 out of the cash register and high-tailed it out of town? Do think the cops would be on the look-out? Do you think if they found the crook, that they'd arrest him and toss him in the slammer? You bet!

What we are witnessing in Saskatchewan is government sanctioned corporate theft. When is somebody in the government going to do something about it?

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Canadians talk to Americans about health care - The Real News

"Canadians talk to Americans about health care

People from Toronto respond to a US advertising campaign about the Canadian health-care system.

While the debate over changes to the US health-care system continues, lobby groups are investing advertising dollars to get their point across. One such group, Conservatives for Patient's Rights has released an advertisement outlining Canadian dissatisfaction with government run health care. The Real News Network invited Torontonians to respond.

Join the health care conversation by clicking here..."

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Wall government labour policy opens the door to corporate bullies

Photo of protest by Greg Pender, StarPhoenix

You can thank the labour legislative policies of the Brad Wall Sask Party government for creating a climate where workers and their rights are treated with contempt.

More and more employers are flexing their new found muscles, and acting like thugs and bullies, since Wall and his 'business at any cost' team tilted the power balance even further against workers and in favour of the bosses.

In the meantime, the part-time minister in charge of the labour portfolio, Rob Norris, is luke warm when asked whether he would intervene to assist workers. This particular minister never seems to have any problem making excuses for the boss, or going to bat for corporations.

Maybe he can convince his boss to change the name of his portfolio to "The Ministry of Management".

From the Leader-Post:

.....The cab drivers allege one of the company's managers has verbally abused many of the Pakistani and other South Asian employees with racial slurs.

The company said the comments resulted from a misunderstanding from one manager.

Norris declined to say if the department will get involved if the dispute with United Cabs goes unresolved, but said the department will be available for questions.

"I made sure officials will be on hand," he said.

Department officials have already met with some drivers to discuss labour standards, added Norris.

The investigation will include input from United Cabs.
Check out the coverage in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix and Regina Leader-Post:

Cab drivers suspended following protest - StarPhoenix

.
While you're at it check out this posting over on libcom.org: Cab drivers wildcat against management racism

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Brad Wall government: puppets of Big Oil, Big Business

Check out the new posting over on the "Owls and Roosters Blog" entitled: Saskatchewan Party: Energy industry donations top $142,000 in 2008; $1.178 million since 1998.

Then read the April 20, 2009 Hansard from the Intergovernmental Affairs and Justice Committee when the Justice Minister (out of the blue), in defending the government's new Trespass Law, refers to protecting oil companies and oil well drilling. The full Hansard is linked here, and the specific Minister's comments appear at page 340 (PDF 34). Excerpted below:

Hon. Mr. Morgan: — I wasn’t privy to the discussions that were had within the municipalities when they put the . . . And I don’t think anything came out of the consultations that dealt specifically with that.

But if your question is would we as a government be willing to use that if there was a sit-in on private property where there was oil drilling taking place, I think the answer is yes. If there was a piece of property that was owned or leased by an oil company or an exploration company that had a lawful right to do that, and they asked people to leave, then it may well be something that might be used in that — subject of course to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and subject to the jurisprudence from the Supreme Court.

Mr. Nilson: — So is this an enhancement of the law then so that after this law is passed, then it will give more rights to oil companies and provincial government to deal with these particular kinds of protests that might arise?

Hon. Mr. Morgan: — I don’t look at it in terms of rights. I look at it in terms of we want to ensure that property owners or people that are in lawful use of their property continue to have that, and it’s an enforcement mechanism to ensure that those rights are protected..........