Tuesday 30 December 2008

CUPE: Stopping P3s, one domino at a time


It's not about providing young people with work experience!

Don't let anybody tell you that the Sask. Party government's recent changes to the minimum employment age has anything to do with giving young people some work experience.

Because friends - that's just not what it's all about. It's about a government who is pandering to the demands of some of the worst employers in the province. Employers who pay such crappy wages, and who treat employees so badly - that practically nobody (other than a few teenagers) is prepared to work for them.

And all of this with no consultation, no public input, and virtually no consideration of alternative points of view. It's becoming a common indicator of how the Sask. Party government operates.

Check out the recent posting over on the "Owls and Roosters Blog" entitled: Brad Wall government lowers minimum age of employment to 15 without public debate or discussion; CFIB and Sask. Chamber applaud move, for more indepth analysis on this topic.

Tuesday 23 December 2008

Mainstream media gives Harper a free ride on Hypocrisy

Yesterday, Canada's Prime Minister back peddled, and reneged on yet another one of his famous promises, by appointing 18 Senators to the upper chamber despite his previous and repeated commitment to reform the senate.

Harper has been on record for years regularly trashing the Senate and calling for its massive overhaul including a requirement that senators be elected. Yesterday's move by the P.M. is a complete about face, and raises more questions about the man's credibility.

Meanwhile, the mainstream media completely ignores the contradictions as it gushes over the appointees, most notably fawning over those newly named senators who came out of their own ranks.
Update: Buried deep on page C-6 of the Tuesday, Regina Leader-Post is an article entitled: Harper slammed over new senators. There is no editorial comment at all about the obvious contradiction of Harper appointing a "Separatist" to the senate. Don't you find that odd, considering the P.M.'s recent attacks on the Liberals and NDP, and his over the top "Separatist-bashing".
"Among the appointees for 18 vacancies are Conservative fundraiser Irving Gerstein, party vice-president Michael MacDonald, CTV broadcaster Mike Duffy, former journalist Pamela Wallin, defeated Conservative MP Fabian Manning, former Olympian Nancy Greene Raine, and former Parti Quebecois politician Michel Rivard."

Santa Claus Bailout Hearings

Wednesday 17 December 2008

Who's to Blame? - Greedy Corporate Hucksters

A few years ago, I wrote a letter to then Premier, Lorne Calvert and NDP government MLA's urging the Saskatchewan Government not to heed the pressure that was coming from various elements of the business crowd and their political friends. A group who were screaming that the world would come to an end if the government dared to carry through on it's stated intention of providing workers with the ability to aquire additional hours of work by the exercise of length of service.

In that letter I used the phrase "Greedy Corporate Hucksters" to describe the type of people and organizations who would resort to a campaign of misinformation, distortion, fear and outright lies in their efforts to destroy workers rights. In fact, if you "google" the phrase "greedy corporate hucksters" today you'll find a few hits and remnants that will take you back to that time.

The reason I raise this now, is because the world is going through an economic turmoil and collapse the likes of which most people living today have never seen. The root cause for this economic calamity is becoming abundantly clear - Wall Street Ponzi Schemes, pyramids, scandal ridden corporate excess and abuse, massive deregulation of the financial sector and plain old fashioned corporate hucksterism.

Michael Moore in his recent on-line letter states the obvious, the U.S. government is prepared to bail out these crooks, but working folks are supposed to pay for a catastrophe they had no hand in creating, by taking massive wage cuts. Says Moore:

"But instead, the Senate said, we'll give you the loan only if the factory workers take a $20 an hour cut in wages, pension and health care. That's right. After giving BILLIONS to Wall Street hucksters and criminal investment bankers -- billions with no strings attached and, as we have since learned, no oversight whatsoever....." Read the full letter here.....
It's time for governments to act in the interests of the people. It's time for governments to prosecute the corporate criminals, to seize their assets and convert them to the public, to strictly re-regulate the financial sector, and to throw the "Greedy Corporate Hucksters" in jail. Yes, Mr. Harper, it's time to get tough on crime. The real crime, the white collar crime that is destroying our economy, our communities, our societies and our democracy.

Howard Zinn, in his book "Failure to Quit", stated it more articulately than I could ever hope to when he talked about civil disobedience:

"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that numbers of people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of the leaders of their government and have gone to war, and millions have been killed because of this 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.”

Stephen Hypocrite

Sunday 14 December 2008

Saskatoon StarPhoenix exposed as the pro-conservative, right-wing rag it is

Wander on over to the "Owls and Roosters Blog" and read blog owner Joe Kuchta's newest posting entitled: "StarPhoenix says no to letter critical of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party of Canada; think tanks receive special treatment".

In another one of his signature postings, Kuchta dissects the past record of the Saskatoon based paper and exposes the obvious bias and slant that dominates it's editorial and opinion pages. When reading Kuchta's posting, I encourage you to click on the links. What you find there will reveal a web of ultra-conservative ties, and connections to the who's-who in certain corners of the right-wing establishment.

So, the tip for today is: If you want to see your name gracing the pages of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix - write something with a "hard-right" orientation. That'll do it!

In closing, I just had to reproduce this astonishing quote from a letter Joe received from the StarPhoenix rejecting an article he had submitted for printing (you see, Joe's viewpoint was critical of Prime Minister Harper's handling of the recent events in Ottawa):
“Most of the points you are making in this proposed viewpoint have been made by other commentators and letter writers since this mess began to unfold. While it’s your style to carefully document dates and times of certain speeches or opinion pieces presented by someone over the years and then to use that person’s latest utterances as a demonstration of their perfidy, it does happen that people change their minds or are, especially in politics, forced to back track on earlier positions simply to survive - to wit, Harper and the Senate appointments.

“While you have every right to comment on contradictory positions taken by public figures, I don’t have the space to devote to this minute examinations and parsing of positions while people deluge us with letters pertaining to the same thing during breaking news events.

“By all means, send in your comments in a 250 word letter and I’ll be happy to consider it. As for the last viewpoint, sorry. It’s a no go.”

Wednesday 10 December 2008

Obama supports "Card Certification" unionization

Hey, Wal-Mart - Stop whining and complaining about your workers in Weyburn unionizing. Get to the bargaining table and negotiate a fair and equitable collective agreement!

More Child Labour in Saskatchewan - do we really want to go there?

It's timely on this the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to take a good hard look at the reasoning for, and push behind, the government's stated intention of reducing the Minimum Working Age in Saskatchewan.

Yesterday, I couriered this letter to the Sask Party government's Minister of Labour (Norris) setting out the position of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour respecting the matter of minimum working age. The SFL's position was informed by resolutions passed at our recent annual convention.

Canada (and Saskatchewan) have significant international obligations and commitments to comply with at least the minimum standards set out in conventions of the United Nations and it's agency the International Labour Organization.

Reducing the minimum age at which children are allowed to work will put us off-side with these international obligations. Do we want to be viewed as a "developed nation", or a "developing nation"?

Today is the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Tuesday 9 December 2008

Wal-Mart employees in Weyburn, Saskatchewan get a union

Word has come down today that the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1400 has been certified by the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board to represent the employees at the Weyburn, Saskatchewan Wal-Mart store.

From todays UFCW news release:

Wal-Mart in Weyburn Certified as UFCW Canada Unionized Store

WEYBURN, SK - December 8, 2008 - A Wal-Mart store in Weyburn, Saskatchewan has been granted union certification by the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board (SLRB) after years of Wal-Mart legal wrangling and delays, including two Wal-Mart applications to the Supreme Court of Canada to overturn the process.

"Justice has finally arrived for these Weyburn workers, in spite of Wal-Mart's endless attempts to thwart the workers from exercising their constitutional right to have a union," says Wayne Hanley, the National President of UFCW Canada.

"The time has come for Wal-Mart to end the stalling tactics and begin respecting worker rights and Canadian law. They are not above it."
Read more here.....

Canada's reputation going down the toilet

On December 3, 2008 the General Secretary of UNI Global Union (representing some 20 million workers in 150 different countries) wrote Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper denouncing the recent signing of the "so-called" Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. You can download a copy of the PDF version of that letter by clicking on the UNI logo to the right. It is also reproduced below in text format.

What a global embarassment Canada is becoming under the leadership of Stephen Harper. We are rapidly replacing George W. Bush as the country nobody wants to be seen in a photo with.
Office of the Prime Minister
Mr Stephen Harper
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa K1A 0A2

Nyon, 3 December 2008

On behalf of UNI Global Union I express our dismay that your government has entered a free trade agreement with Colombia.

Colombia is the murder capital of the world for trade unionists. There is no other place in this planet that poses as many threats and dangers to trade unionists. Acts of murder and violence are perpetrated with impunity.

There is an almost total absence of the judicial pursuit of those committing crimes against trade unionists, of the thousands of cases before the authorities decisions have only been made in a handful of cases.

This year UNI lost one of its local bank union leaders Leonidas Rojas who was murdered in his own apartment. THe government investigator initially claimed, as they have so often done, that this was a crime of passion. Yet just days ago a paramilitary group claimed responsibility for his murder. The same group declared that Geneva based ngo's, such as UNI Global Union, that have worked to protect trade unionists in Colombia are now a legitimate military target. Your trade agreement only brings succour to such anti democratic and violent groups.

The Canadian government should have used these trade talks as an opportunity to create leverage to ensure that basic trade union and human rights in Colombia were fully respected and allowed to flourish. That you have chosen not to do so is a blow to Colombian workers and their trade union organisations.

Your government has chosen to sign an agreement when the murder of trade unionists is on the rise. The violation of trade union rights has created a climate of fear that has effectively destroyed collective bargaining in Colombia. This coupled with the absence of a social safety net has left millions of Colombians marooned in poverty. The benefits of trade will only assist the current business elites.

On behalf of our 20 million members in 150 countries I express our outrage that your government has signed an agreement which will do precious little for the Colombian people and perpetuate a culture of brutality and death in the country.

I have the highest regard for Canada and its people, sentiments which I shared with the 2008 Governor Generals Leadership Conference which I addressed in Alberta this June. This future generation of Canadian leaders was shocked to learn of the tragedy that is Colombia today. We regret that your government has pursued a policy which will bring no practical benefit to those in peril or improve the lives of Colombian workers. I appeal to you to reconsider your position and nullify this agreement.

Yours sincerely,

Philip J. Jennings
General Secretary

Monday 8 December 2008

Democracy is being hijacked alright - but not by any Coalition

Thanks to Dr. Dawg over on Dawg's Blawg for his post "Conservative coup d'├ętat?". I sincerely hope that people are raising questions about the obvious double standard and constantly changing "rules of the game".

Here's an excerpt from Dr. Dawg's post:

"The Alberta lawyer who drafted a power-sharing proposal between Stockwell Day, Gilles Duceppe and Joe Clark in 2000 is now suggesting that the Conservatives should defy the Governor-General if she were to ask the Liberal-NDP coalition to form a new government if the Conservative administration falls on January 27." Read more here....

Friday 5 December 2008

Liars and Hypocrits? You tell me.

"Cut and Run Stevie" makes his mark in history

Prorogue Precedents

Stephen Harper wanted to shut down Parliament just because he does not agree with it.

Some say this is unprecedented.

In fact, Harper is following parliamentary tradition. Consider the following precedents:

1629: King Charles I in England
1799: Napoleon in France
1913: Victoriano Huerta in Mexico
1933: Adolf Hitler in Germany
1936: Francisco Franco in Spain
1939: Benito Mussolini in Italy
1973: Augusto Pinochet in Chile
1975: Indira Gandhi in India
1999: Pervez Musharaff in Pakistan
2008: Stephen Harper in Canada

YIKES! Hardly a badge of honour to achieve a spot on this list.

H/T to Sean in Ottawa for this Post, and to thereginamom for most of the links

Will Canada's gov't be next casualty of crisis?

Leo Panitch: Conservative's 'anti-tax obsession' is similar to policy that made the 30's worse

Thursday 4 December 2008

Prime Ministerial Double Talk

Working with the Bloc wasn’t such a big deal when Stephen Harper did it in 2004

JOURNALIST: So why did you write that letter to the Governor General with Gilles Duceppe and Jack Layton saying in the event of a confidence vote situation do not call a snap election - are we to assume that therefore you’re working to form a coalition?

HARPER: There seems to be an attitude in the Liberal government - that they can go in, be deliberately defeated and call an election - that’s not how our constitutional system works. The government has a minority - it has an obligation to demonstrate to Canadians that it can govern. That it can form a majority in the House of Commons. If it can’t form a majority, we look at other options, we don’t just concede to the government’s request to make it dysfunctional. I know for a fact that Mr. Duceppe and Mr. Layton and the people who work for them want this Parliament to work and I know it is in all of our interests to work. The government has got to face the fact it has a minority, it has to work with other people.

SOURCE: Interview with Stephen Harper, September 2004.

Harper 'lies' about coalition details: Broadbent

CBC is broadcasting the following video interview of Ed Broadbent. To read the web coverage of this interview please click here....

Video - CBC Website

Wednesday 3 December 2008

Don't you find it all a bit hypocritical and hysterical

I must admit, I'm simply astonished at the level to which the anti-coalition forces are prepared to stoop in their attempt to hijack our system of Canadian Parliamentary Democracy. Contrary to what the frothing-at-the-mouth unrepentent corporate controlled right-wingers would have you believe, we are not witnessing a coup d'etat.

What we are witnessing is elected representatives of a combined majority of Canadian citizens assuming control of government from a group of representatives representing a minority of Canadian citizens. 63% = majority, 37% = minority.

But what really floors me is the hatred-filled diatribes coming from the mouths of those who declare themselves to be the rightful and duly elected leaders in this democracy we call Canada. Don't you find it all a bit rich to hear them bemoan and exaggerate the agreement between the "Liberals", the "Socialists", and the "Separtists"? I sure do.

This all from a group who have no problem whatsoever abandoning the sovereignty of our nation through the signing of "so-called" international trade agreements.

How is it that working and cooperating with elected Canadian citizens from Quebec in Canada's Parliament is described as treasonous, yet it's quite all right to sign multi-lateral and bi-lateral trade agreements with countries where the murdering of union leaders is a regular occurrence? Or where human rights abuses, and environmental abuses are simply ignored.

How is it that playing by the rules of our system of representative and responsible government is equated to being an attack on democracy, yet it's quite all right to sign interprovincial and overarching agreements like TILMA and the AIT that include provisions handing corporations the ability to sue duly elected governments for multi-millions of dollars for those governments exercising their responsibility to regulate and legislate in the public interest?

In case you haven't been paying attention - deregulating the global financial industry and handing over control to the corporations is exactly what got the world into the economic mess we find ourselves in right now. Even George W. Bush, the most unpopular President in the history of the United States of America, acknowledges that.

What we're witnessing here is our democratic system working - the way it's worked in this country since confederation. The ones who are screaming the loudest are the priviledged few and the corporate elite who see control slipping away, and they don't like it.

Get ready for the full frontal attack - they own the media, and they own the airwaves - they will spend millions to deny the results of the last election. Because contrary to what they would have you believe - they didn't win, they only got a minority. Hang on, it's going to be a wild ride.

Tuesday 2 December 2008

Sunday 30 November 2008

A trip down memory lane

When Stephen Harper was leader of the Opposition in 2004 he co-signed a letter to then Governor General Adrienne Clarkson asking her to consider a coalition government if the minority Liberal government faltered and failed to get support of the other parties in Parliament.

The following is quote from a September 9, 2004 joint letter - posted on mcleans.ca web-site:

"As leaders of the opposition parties, we are well aware that, given the Liberal minority government, you could be asked by the Prime Minister to dissolve the 38th Parliament at any time should the House of Commons fail to support some part of the government’s program. We respectfully point out that the opposition parties, who together constitute a majority in the House, have been in close consultation. We believe that, should a request for dissolution arise this should give you cause, as constitutional practice has determined, to consult the opposition leaders and consider all of your options before exercising your constitutional authority. Your attention to this matter is appreciated."
-From a letter to then-Governor General Adrienne Clarkson signed by all three opposition leaders: Gilles Duceppe, Jack Layton and Stephen Harper (September 9, 2004)
Harper also did a wide ranging interview (at the time) with CBC's Evan Solomon wherein he said:

"Harper: Well there are lots of things that could bring the government down, but my opposition can not bring the government down. The government can only be brought down because it alienates several parties in the House. And the first obligation in this Parliament, if the government wants to govern, it has to come to Parliament and it has to show that it can get the support of the majority of members, through the Throne Speech, through legislation, and through budget and supply, and the government to this point has made no effort to do that, but that's its first obligation."
Does he operate by a different set of rules when he's P.M. rather than when he's the Leader of the Opposition?

Canadians deserve better!

Globe and Mail columnist Jeffrey Simpson captures the real Stephen Harper in his Saturday, November 29, 2008 column entitled: "Economist with a tin heart, politician with a tin ear" (click to view original web article).

The article is reproduced below in it's entirety:

"Economist with a tin heart, politician with a tin ear


From Saturday's Globe and Mail

November 28, 2008 at 9:23 PM EST

Prime Minister Stephen Harper called an election to secure a majority, and failed to get one.

This week, he created a completely unnecessary crisis that now threatens his government's very survival. And they call Mr. Harper a great strategist and superior tactician?

Thursday's economic statement was an economic lame duck and a political boner. It revealed, among other things, the kind of Conservative Party that all but its core supporters suspected would eventually be outed: a group of ideologues, led by a Prime Minister who discarded his campaign sweater to reveal an economist with a tin heart and a politician who looks everywhere for political advantage.

Instead of trying to grow Conservative support, he appealed only to his party's core. Instead of acting in a statesmanlike fashion at a time of crisis, he opted to play politics, proposing to cancel public subsidies for parties, a move that would disproportionately benefit his.

Instead of reaching out, as leader of a minority government and as president-elect Barack Obama is doing by talking to moderate Republicans, he smacked his opponents in the chops. Instead of heeding the advice of economists everywhere that the economy needs stimulus, he got his Minister of Finance to present a budget that offered cutbacks and tiny surpluses that absolutely no one believes will be realized.

There is a plausible case for caution, to wait a bit until economic issues clarify themselves and until the new American administration settles definitively on its approach. The government therefore, quite credibly, could have gone to Parliament, said it could not offer precise numbers because of unprecedented volatility, said there would be a deficit but a modest one limited in time, promised a budget in January, got a few infrastructure programs speeded up, and asked for suggestions. After all, this was a government that had admitted the economy would be in a "technical recession."

That would have been prudent, statesmanlike and economically credible. There would have been no political crisis; the country would have accepted that the government had heard its concerns and worries; and a serious plan could have been developed.

Instead, the government unsheathed its ideological swords, attacked political opponents, public-sector unions, disregarded overwhelming economic advice in the country (including from deficit hawks, premiers, and conservative-minded economists) and dared the opposition parties to turn the other cheek - a move, to the government's apparent surprise, the other parties were not prepared to do.

The economic statement was wrongly conceived on every front.

It misdiagnosed what the economy needs, and offered a completely bogus explanation.

Said the government: We have already injected $31-billion of stimulus in the economy through tax cuts since 2006. As if tax cuts in 2006 were designed for stimulus in 2009. No one believes that.

That would be like President George W. Bush saying his tax cuts of years ago were designed to help the current recession. Conservatives cut taxes mostly when the economy was robust (and therefore at the wrong time and in the wrong way, but that's another matter). The point now is that the stimulus hasn't been enough.

The government also gratuitously set off a political firestorm that will damage the Conservative Party.

Taxpayer subsidies for political parties exist everywhere around the world, even in the United States, where Mr. Obama refused them because he was raising so much private money. The subsidies exist, there as here, as a quid pro quo for eliminating corporate and union contributions. As such, they help parties finance themselves, do their work, and therefore contribute to democracy.

But since the Conservatives have mastered soliciting contributions from individuals better than their opponents, they now propose to eliminate the public subsidy that amounts to a tiny sum relative to total government spending. Nothing the Conservatives have done has been so malevolently partisan as this.

Finally, the government created a potential constitutional situation in which it could be defeated and replaced, quite properly under constitutional convention, by a Liberal-NDP coalition.

Late yesterday, Mr. Harper refused to modify his economic statement, put off confidence votes for a week to buy himself some time, and in effect dared the Governor-General, should it come to this, not to exercise her proper constitutional authority to ask another party to try to form a government without bringing on an election.

He argued that if his government were to be defeated, there would have to be an election, which is not consistent with constitutional convention. He was really threatening a possible constitutional crisis that, again, would be of his own making and that he would hope to turn to his partisan advantage.

The miscalculations have been stunning. Mr. Harper's strategy has accomplished already the near-impossible: to bring the Liberals and NDP together.

He had so many other, less partisan options at a time of economic crisis and grave national concern. That he acted in this fashion, at this time, was enormously revealing. And very sad."

Friday 28 November 2008

Opposition parties to topple Bush's buddy Steve

AP Photo

The mainstream media is buzzing in anticipation that the Canadian opposition parties will form a coalition next week to topple George W. Bush's best buddy - Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper.

It appears that the Harper government is steadfast in it's determination to bankrupt the opposition by removing their public funding under the phoney excuse of the economic downtown. An economic downturn brought on by the policies of the likes of Bush and Harper: deregulation, privatization, corporate greed, and war-mongering.

It's reported that Federal Finance minister, Jim Flaherty is saying the government will not back down from it's plans to financially hobble the opposition, nor are they prepared to back-off of their proposed 50 Billion dollar tax reduction gift to the same corporations who are the architects of the economic mess the world is in today.

I figure that Harper and crowd are so freaked out by the mess their policies have created that they don't want to be the government that is charged with responsibility of cleaning it up. After all, it's going to take economic stimulus and deficit financing to get the economy out of our corporate greed created financial collapse.

Harper et al, would rather be sitting in the opposition benches sniping and taking shots then rolling up their sleeves and fixing the mess.

Stay tuned it's going to be an interesting week.

Coverage of the issue:

CBC - Chr├ętien, Broadbent brokering possible coalition: reports

Global TV - Another election? (video)

Google News - Canadian government will fall

Tuesday 25 November 2008

The struggle for decent work

Reproduced below is the lead article from the most recent issue of the SFL Labour Reporter (Dec 2008). You can download a copy of the complete Labour Reporter issue (in PDF format) by clicking here....

"Before we send our young people into the work force, we should feel confident they will be guaranteed basic worker protections."

"The struggle for decent work

I bet you didn’t know Oct. 7 was proclaimed World Day for Decent Work by the International Trade Union Confederation, which has 311 national affiliates and represents 168 million workers in 155 countries.

So what is decent work? The International Labour Organization defines it as productive work for women and men in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity.

Decent work:

- Provides security in the workplace and social protection for workers and their families;

- Offers better prospects for personal development and encourages social integration;

- Gives people the freedom to express their concerns, to organize and to participate in decisions that affect their lives; and

- Guarantees equal opportunities and equal treatment for all.

What is Saskatchewan doing to promote and to ensure its citizens have decent work? With legislation like Bills 5 and 6, which make it more difficult to organize and to bargain as unions, we are definitely moving in the opposite direction.

The Sask. Party government wants to lower the minimum working age for children working in hotels, educational institutions, hospitals and nursing homes from 16 to 15. Children as young as 14 will be able to work with parental consent in those sectors.

Any union activist from the service or healthcare sectors will tell you these are some of the most dangerous places to work, as demonstrated by the high number of injury claims the Workers’ Compensation Board receives every year from workers in these industries.

Ask any young person about the service industry and whether or not basic labour standards, like minimum call-out pay, are met. The restaurant industry has a reputation for ripping off its young workers.

Of course young people want the opportunity to gain skills and experience in the workplace and to earn some money. They deserve that opportunity. But before we send younger and younger people into that workforce, shouldn’t we feel confident that they will be guaranteed basic worker protections? And that they will be free to join a union in order to organize for those protections?

As a labour movement, we struggle to ensure decent work for everyone. Our government should be doing the same."

See original article here....

Battle in Seattle - The Movie

Check out the web site at: www.battleinseattlemovie.com

Monday 24 November 2008

More Anti-Union Spin

For one of the best analyses and commentary you'll ever see, check out a recent blog posting over on the Owls and Roosters Blog entitled: Saskatoon StarPhoenix resorts to historical revisionism in latest attack on labour groups.

As has become his trademark, blog owner - Joe Kuchta, does his usual thorough job of uncovering the facts, unravelling the spin, and exposing the truth.

Sunday 23 November 2008

Countdown: Wal-Mart, The Republican Brand

This is a bit dated, but it's as relevant as ever. Could just as easily be entitled: Wal-Mart, The Sask. Party Brand.

What to do with the North American auto industry? - The Real News

Jim Stanford and Justin Fox debate the pros and cons of allowing the auto industry to go bankrupt.

Murdering Trade Union Leaders? No Problem for Harper's Canada

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, right, meets with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe at a bilateral meeting in Lima, Peru on Friday, Nov. 21, 2008. (Andrew Vaughan / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Despite evidence of the world's worst record of labour rights abuses and the murdering of Trade Union leaders - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper signed a free trade agreement with Columbian President Alvaro Uribe on Friday, November 21, 2008. This is to say nothing of the fact that Columbia (according to the CIA) is the world's largest supplier of cocaine. (How does that square with Harper's so-called "law and order government" and his government's continuous desire to shut down such services as Vancouver's Safe Injection Program - InSite.)

This from a Prime Minister who will punish Canadian provincial governments so severely if they disagree with him that he has Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall running scared.

Thursday 20 November 2008

Great Ads from American Rights at Work

Here are a couple of great ads from American Rights at Work

Check out the website at: AmericanRightsatWork.org

Occupation 101 - Voices of the Silenced Majority

Occupation 101

Must Watch Video


This video contains images depicting the reality and horror of war and should only be viewed by a mature audience.

1 hour 27 minutes 59 seconds

"A thought-provoking and powerful documentary film on the current and historical root causes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Unlike any other film ever produced on the conflict -- 'Occupation 101' presents a comprehensive analysis of the facts and hidden truths surrounding the never ending controversy and dispels many of its long-perceived myths and misconceptions.

The film also details life under Israeli military rule, the role of the United States in the conflict, and the major obstacles that stand in the way of a lasting and viable peace. The roots of the conflict are explained through first-hand on-the-ground experiences from leading Middle East scholars, peace activists, journalists, religious leaders and humanitarian workers whose voices have too often been suppressed in American media outlets.

The film covers a wide range of topics -- which include -- the first wave of Jewish immigration from Europe in the 1880's, the 1920 tensions, the 1948 war, the 1967 war, the first Intifada of 1987, the Oslo Peace Process, Settlement expansion, the role of the United States Government, the second Intifada of 2000, the separation barrier and the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, as well as many heart wrenching testimonials from victims of this tragedy."



View full video at Google video here....

Monday 17 November 2008

Just What We Need - More Child Labour

Luis Castaneda holds a picture of his brother Nery Castaneda, who died at the age of 17 while working an unsafe job. Many employers are ignoring child labor laws which result in injuries and deaths. (Photo: Robert Lahser / The Charlotte Observer)

So, apparently Saskatchewan needs more child labour.

How long before we start seeing headlines like this:

Hard labor at a tender age - Raid at poultry plant reveals problem beyond illegal immigration. Workers as young as 15 were found on the line or

Child labor going largely unchecked or

Federal, state lawmakers vow to get tougher on child labor.

Not long, we already have employers in this province exploiting and ripping off young workers - and that's before the Sask. Party makes it easier yet.

Check it out: Exploitation of young workers in Saskatchewan.

or this: Regina Restaurant Rips Off Workers.

Saturday 15 November 2008

A New Vision for Workers in the USA

Hey Brad - Pay Attention!

Join the SEIU Employee Free Choice Campaign by clicking here....

The New Trough - Naomi Klein - RollingStone

Illustration by Victor Juhasz

There's a great article over on the RollingStone Magazine website written by Naomi Klein entitled: The New Trough.

In classic Klein style - it exposes corporate America and Wall Street for what they truly are: Greedy Corporate Pigs at the Public Trough.

"The Wall Street bailout looks a lot like Iraq — a "free-fraud zone" where private contractors cash in on the mess they helped create"
Read the full article by clicking here....

Tuesday 11 November 2008

Terrorizing Dissent

This does not require any comment by me whatsoever. Watch this first video and you'll be compelled to watch the rest of them. This was recorded during the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minnesota in September. Absolutely astonishing.

Check out all 4 video segments by clicking here: http://www.terrorizingdissent.org/s1h.php

Read more at the Terrorizing Dissent web site by clicking here....

Saturday 8 November 2008

Gordon Campbell, Last Champion of Financial Deregulation: Dobbin

There's a great column written by Murray Dobbin over on TheTyee.ca entitled: Gordon Campbell, Last Champion of Financial Deregulation.

The column discusses the B.C. Premier's insatiable lust to deregulate everything in sight. Particularly considering the recent collapse of Wall Street - brought on by corporate encouraged and government led deregulation of the financial sector.

But is he (Campbell) the only Premier in Canada who blindly and aggressively follows the pro-business, anti-citizen, deregulation ideology?

Given the track record, to date, of Sask. Party Premier Brad Wall - I'm not so sure. Wall recently created the so-called 'Regulatory Modernization Council'. (see Government News Release: Private Sector Input to Shape Regulatory Reform).
Translated means: Which is an exclusively business driven (and now taxpayer funded) lobby group whose real mandate is to recommend, support and justify a massive deregulation of everything in the province. See the Owls and Roosters Blog posting: Regulatory Modernization Council: Wall government turns policy making over to business lobby group Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

Tuesday 4 November 2008

Barack Obama on Labour and Unions

U.S. President Elect: Barack Obama!

Daycare workers can unionize

There was recently a great decision issued in the Quebec courts about workers and their rights.

It is yet another tremendous victory for Canadian workers asserting that their Constitutional rights have been violated by an action of the government. This time, the actions of the 'right-wing' government of Quebec's Jean Charest, who brought in a law that said at-home day-care workers in Quebec were prohibited from unionizing.

Charest's law has been struck down. (Are you paying attention Saskatchewan?)

The Quebec Superior Court has ruled the legislation violates the Charter Rights of Quebec workers.

See this article in the Montreal Gazette....

The Meltdown, Seen from Below - The Tyee

"What union leaders, labour experts and anti-poverty activists say needs to be done.


As the global financial meltdown spreads to
threaten General Motors and even the Euro, financial experts in well-tailored suits vie in the news media to frame how we arrived here and what should be done.

Their debate tends to be about just how many billion of dollars need to be delivered to banks and other financial institutions to keep the good ship globalization afloat. From quarters such as the conservative Fraser Institute, we hear that government is to blame for intruding into the market, and so less regulation is the cure.

Here at The Tyee, we noticed that most of the commentary on our Titanic dilemma seems to be coming from the passengers in first class and the government navigators who helped create the crisis. We were curious about how it looks to the crew and the passengers in third class, so we made some calls to union leaders, anti-poverty activists, and various economists and historians who make it their business to study big business without being part of the action."
Read more....

Monday 3 November 2008

Sunday 2 November 2008

A Night for Rights with Irshad Manji

CUPE Saskatchewan Division is sponsoring an evening event this coming week entitled: A Night for Rights.

"On November 6, 2008, CUPE Saskatchewan will host a Night for Rights with acclaimed speaker, broadcaster, author and filmmaker: Irshad Manji.

The Night for Rights celebrates the approaching 60th anniversary of the United Nations International Declaration of Human Rights: a document which set a standard of treatment for all people."
Read more....

Saturday 1 November 2008

Hate Radio - Right-Wing Newstalk contributing to hatred

Check out this Bill Moyers Journal Special:

"What happens when Americas airwaves fill with hate? Bill Moyers Journal takes a tough look at the hostile industry of Shock Jock media with a hard-hitting examination of its effects on our nations political discourse. The Journal traveled to Knoxville, where a recent shooting at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church has left the pastor asking what role hateful speech from popular right-wing media personalities may have played in the tragedy. A lot of people are hurling insults from the safety of television studios, the safety of radio studio, the safety of cyberspace says Rev. Chris Buice, So that's a void in our community - the chance to be in the same room and to have these exchanges and remember the humanity of the person on the other side. Aired Friday, September 12, at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). For more: http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/09122008/profile.html"

Thursday 30 October 2008

SFL to attend International Symposium on Labour and Human Rights

Faced with an unprecedented assault on worker and human rights by the Brad Wall Sask. Party government, representatives of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL) will attend an International Symposium entitled: "Labour Rights are Human Rights".

The symposium (being held in mid November 2008) will bring together 150 guests plus several national and international experts to discuss and examine how labour rights are a critical component of human rights, and fundamental to a properly functioning democracy. The symposium is jointly sponsored by the following four national organizations: the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF), the Canadian Police Association (CPA) and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW Canada).

Representatives of the SFL will be using the opportunity to raise national and international awareness of the Sask. Party government's assault on Saskatchewan workers, and to discuss the the SFL's recently launched Charter Challenge and the formal complaints which have been filed against the government with the International Labour Organization.

Tuesday 28 October 2008

Video: Obama's Closing Argument - truthout.org

One more week. Let's hope the American's get it right this time.

For more information go to truthout.org

Read a transcript of this speech by clicking here....

Sask. Chamber of Commerce behind government assault on workers

"Owls and Roosters Blog" owner Joe Kuchta has just posted a new entry entitled: StarPhoenix and Leader-Post attack labour; CanWest reportedly recruiting Concordia University journalism students as scabs in the event of a strike.

Not evident in the title are the additional tidbits the blog posting uncovers. It reveals clear evidence that the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce is a major force behind recent and ongoing assaults by the Sask. Party government against workers.

Kuchta has uncovered a couple of documents from the Chamber's web-site that illustrate this fact in spades.

The first document is a motion passed by the Chamber of Commerce at it's annual meeting held in Humboldt, May 8 - 9, 2008 which applauds the government for introducing Bills 5 & 6 and calls for comprehensive reviews of other labour legislation.

The second document is a 4-page letter of response from Minister Rob Norris to Chamber President Dale Lemke accepting the congratulations and promising to consult with the Chamber in more detail regarding the matters raised in letters from Lemke, including labour legislation.

In the meantime, Rob Norris has avoided, evaded, eluded and refused to meet with workers and their organizations regarding these matters. He continues to refuse to answer questions raised in forums sponsored by the labour movement, including at the SFL Convention.

Yet his door is wide open to his business buddies from the Chamber and other business lobby groups.

Labour dissent 'was not planned'

Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL) Treasurer, Marvin Meickel and Recording Secretary, Wanda Bartlett recently submitted an Op Ed piece to the Regina Leader-Post regarding the appearance of Sask. Party Labour Minister, Rob Norris at the SFL's 2008 Annual Convention last week in Regina.

The Op Ed piece is reproduced below, and can be viewed at the Leader-Post online by clicking here....

Labour dissent 'was not planned'

Marvin Meickel and Wanda Bartlett
Special to The Leader-Post

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Following Minister of Labour Rob Norris's speech to the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour's (SFL) Convention, it was widely reported in print, television and radio that the icy reception the minister received was in fact spontaneous. Reporters dutifully asked SFL President Hubich if he had planned the outburst and he responded "no, on the contrary".

Yet a couple of mainstream reporters, despite having not even attended the event, insisted on reporting the opposite. Leader-Post columnist Murray Mandryk goes so far as to say "Certainly, there's no doubt -- despite SFL President Larry Hubich's disingenuous assertion to the contrary -- that the supposedly spontaneous demonstration . . . was orchestrated to maximize television coverage". In the span of just three paragraphs on Oct. 25, he states four times that the actions of delegates were orchestrated.

There is simply no basis in fact for such statements and to report otherwise is to distort the events of that day. Furthermore, disparaging comments about our president, our leadership and our members is very disappointing.

Let's set the record straight. The demonstration against Norris was neither orchestrated by president Hubich, nor by the SFL executive council.

Indeed, when president Hubich indicated he would call delegates to order, the minister turned down his offer.

The truth is that the SFL executive council, composed of 24 vice-presidents and eight labour council representatives, discussed in advance the minister's upcoming visit. We decided that the most fruitful approach would be to conduct ourselves respectfully and to attempt to get answers to some very important questions from the minister.

Many of those same labour leaders then lined up at microphones following the minister's speech and proceeded to ask carefully crafted questions.

Let's be clear; the Brad Wall government has refused to consult with the working people of this province so an opportunity to meet a minister and ask questions is a rare occurrence.

The fact that the delegates on the floor chose to express their views in such a united and strong manner should signal to everyone that those 550 rank-and-file workers are fed up with being treated with disdain and disrespect by their own government. And we should all be humbled by the fact that they felt strongly enough to go against the recommendations of their own leadership as to how they should receive the minister. It is called dissent.

That workers stood up for themselves in such a manner is certainly newsworthy, but surely the media is also obligated to report on the questions asked of the minister and his evasive answers?

When asked repeatedly whether or not the minister had plans to amend any of the several pieces of labour legislation in the province, he stated they are all "under review" and gave reference to lowering the minimum working age.

When asked whether or not labour would be consulted on any potential changes to labour laws, the minister refused to answer.

Workers have been experiencing this kind of dismissive treatment ever since the Saskatchewan Party came to office. The gutting of labour laws and the refusal to dialogue with trade unions about future changes is incredibly frustrating. It should be noted that it wasn't until the minister began to sing the praises of Bills 5 and 6 that delegates got up from their seats.

Governments have an obligation to consult with individuals and groups when they intend to bring in legislation that will affect them. To refuse to do so in a meaningful way is anti-democratic. And to continue to cater to business interests and to dismiss workers' expertise and concerns is insulting.

We also note that several urgent issues of interest to the people of Saskatchewan were discussed and debated during the three-and-a-half day convention. Just some of these issues include a campaign to remove asbestos from workplaces and homes; the dangers involved in the expansion of oil extraction in the tar sands; the exploitation and abuse of rapidly increasing numbers of temporary foreign workers; and the lack of safe staffing levels in our health-care system.

As workers and as a labour movement, we will continue to take very seriously our obligation to raise these issues in workplaces, in public forums, and with our politicians.

- Meickel is the SFL treasurer and president of CUPE Local 7. Bartlett is the SFL recording secretary and president of the Weyburn and District Labour Council.

© The Leader-Post (Regina) 2008