Monday 28 December 2009

Could Canadian officials be charged with war crimes?

Check out the article over on the Embassy Newspaper/Hill Times website entitled: Could Canadians be charged with war crimes? It's from the December 16, 2009 print edition of Canada's influential foreign policy newspaper.

The article, written by Jeff Davis, raises some very serious questions about the role of Canadian officials in potential violations of the Geneva Convention related to Afghan detainee torture. The article is excerpted below:

"With the government refusing to start a public inquiry and the International Criminal Court having launched a "preliminary" investigation into the Afghan detainee issue, law experts say there is a very real chance Canadian officials could be charged with war crimes.

Until last week, the government and senior officials had been saying they had no credible reports that people detained by the Canadian Forces and transferred to Afghan authorities were being tortured.

While Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Walter Natynczyk revealed on Dec. 9 that such torture had, in fact, occurred in the past, government ministers say they were not aware of the reports. Further, they have not acknowledged they heard the widespread reports that Afghan authorities were abusing detainees."
Continue reading full article .....

Wednesday 23 December 2009

Monday 14 December 2009

CLAC promotes slashing minimum wage for young workers; Wall gov’t hiding Bill 80 information from public

The best investigative writer/journalist in the province, citizen blogger Joe Kuchta, has just posted a new article over on the Owls and Roosters blog entitled: Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC) promotes slashing minimum wage for young adults; Wall gov’t hiding Bill 80 information from public.

In signature comprehensive Kuchta style, the posting exposes the love affair between the Sask. Party government, a number of ultra extreme anti-union business groups, Wall's/Norris's anti-worker legislative agenda, government secrecy, growing Saskatchewan poverty and CLAC.

Saturday 5 December 2009

Olbermann: Companies betting on employees' lives

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

The Story of Cap and Trade

"The Story of Cap & Trade is a fast-paced, fact-filled look at the leading climate solution being discussed at Copenhagen and on Capitol Hill. Host Annie Leonard introduces the energy traders and Wall Street financiers at the heart of this scheme and reveals the "devils in the details" in current cap and trade proposals: free permits to big polluters, fake offsets and distraction from whats really required to tackle the climate crisis. If youve heard about Cap & Trade, but arent sure how it works (or who benefits), this is the film is for you."

Friday 4 December 2009

SFL Marks 20th Anniversary of the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

News Release

For immediate release December 4th, 2009

SFL Marks 20th Anniversary of the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

Saskatchewan's labour central will commemorate the victims of the 1989 Ēcole Polytechnique massacre this December 6th, alongside workers and citizens across the country.

"Saskatchewan’s labour movement stands in solidarity with the “20 Days, 20 Ways” campaign of the Canadian Labour Congress. It begins with honouring the memories of the 14 women who were murdered that day, for the expressed reason that they were women. Violence continues to affect shocking numbers of women. Far too many of our daughters, wives, mothers, sisters, and partners live in fear and pain because collectively we have not solved the problem of the hatred of women,” says Mary-Beth Hollis, chair of the SFL Women’s Committee.

“The trade union movement believes that one key way to solve the problem of violence against women is to push our governments to promote and support women and their struggle for equality. This December 6th we are pressing the Harper government to promote and advance women’s equality, rather than continuing their agenda of diminishing it,” says Larry Hubich, SFL President.

The campaign highlights the need for a comprehensive social and economic program that includes:

- maintaining the long gun registry, which has reduced gun-related spousal homicides by 50% since it was started;
- access to affordable, safe housing;
- a living minimum wage;
- effective pay equity laws;
- a national publicly-funded child care programme;
- equal access to Employment Insurance;
- access to justice, including the resources to challenge discriminatory government action and legal aid;
- increased governmental support for women’s centres, rape crisis centres and women’s shelters;
- legal protection and support for women who report sexual assault.

Workers are mailing postcards on these issues every day, for 20 days, directly to the Prime Minister.

The SFL also invites Saskatchewan citizens to attend a vigil outside Member of Parliament Ray Boughen’s office, at #210 – 2631, 28th Ave. Regina, on Sunday December 6th at 4:00 p.m. (see attached poster)

“We will be sending a message to stop Federal Bill C-391 which proposes to end the registry of long guns. Let’s send a message to our government that the gun registry helps save women’s lives and should not be dismantled,” says Hollis.

The SFL represents 95,000 unionized workers from 37 affiliated unions in Saskatchewan.

Thursday 3 December 2009

Brad Wall's pet union calls for a cut in minimum wage: SFL news release

News Release

December 3, 2009 For immediate release

Brad Wall's pet union calls for a cut in minimum wage

The "so-called" union that has been invited by Brad Wall and Rob Norris to open up shop in Saskatchewan has submitted a brief to the Saskatchewan Minimum Wage Board calling for a cut in the minimum wage for workers under the age of 21.

In a
submission dated October 23, 2009, the Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC) made four (4) recommendations to the newly appointed Minimum Wage Board one of which urges the Board to recommend that minimum wage be "discounted by 10 percent for youth under the age of 21 years".

"Real unions don't call on governments to bring in changes that result in putting more people into poverty", said Larry Hubich, President of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL). "No union worth its salt would ever advocate that we should be setting up a provincial two-tier minimum wage regime that opens the door to unscrupulous employers exploiting, ripping off and impoverishing young workers."

The SFL points out that the Sask. Party government has already admitted that a motivating factor of them introducing the controversial Bill 80 was to open the door for CLAC to set up shop in Saskatchewan. And it is also more than a mere coincidence that some of the most supportive organizations and groups regarding Bill 80 are anti-union and non-union companies and individuals who like the idea of signing sweet-heart deals with company-friendly unions to block real unions from organizing their employees.

"This is all part of the Rob Norris and Brad Wall anti-union agenda. Strip away workers rights, destroy their ability to form legitimate unions, invite company-friendly unions to town, stack boards and commissions with anti-union appointments and cut wages," said Hubich.

The SFL represents more than 95,000 workers from 37 affiliated unions in Saskatchewan.
Download SFL news release here.

Monday 30 November 2009

Kiefer Sutherland pledges his support for Medicare

Sign the Medicare Pledge here:

As a Canadian, I believe access to quality health care must be based on need, not ability to pay.
Our public health care reflects those values of equality and fairness.
We must improve our public health care for everyone, instead of expanding private for-profit services that benefit only a few.
I pledge my support for the protection and improvement of public health care in Canada.

Canada's reputation being destroyed by corporate greed

An article posted on The Guardian web-site written by George Monbiot should be of significant concern to every person in Canada. The article, entitled: Canada's image lies in tatters. It is now to climate what Japan is to whaling is a scathing indictment of Canada's horrid position and reputation when it comes to climate change, pollution, and action to curb an impending global environmental catastrophe.

A once proud, and highly respected country on the global stage - has been reduced to country that is off-side with almost everyone else on the planet. We are seen as being completely and totally controlled by the excesses of the corporate elite, and our Prime Minister is seen as their lackey. How embarassing. The first few paragraphs of Monbiot's article are reproduced below:

"When you think of Canada, which qualities come to mind? The world's peacekeeper, the friendly nation, a liberal counterweight to the harsher pieties of its southern neighbour, decent, civilised, fair, well-governed? Think again. This country's government is now behaving with all the sophistication of a chimpanzee's tea party. So amazingly destructive has Canada become, and so insistent have my Canadian friends been that I weigh into this fight, that I've broken my self-imposed ban on flying and come to Toronto.

So here I am, watching the astonishing spectacle of a beautiful, cultured nation turning itself into a corrupt petro-state. Canada is slipping down the development ladder, retreating from a complex, diverse economy towards dependence on a single primary resource, which happens to be the dirtiest commodity known to man. The price of this transition is the brutalisation of the country, and a government campaign against multilateralism as savage as any waged by George Bush.

Until now I believed that the nation that has done most to sabotage a new climate change agreement was the United States. I was wrong. The real villain is Canada. Unless we can stop it, the harm done by Canada in December 2009 will outweigh a century of good works."
Read full article by clicking here....

Dark Side of Dubai's Boom Town - Dubai's dirty little secret

Dubai - mecca for the rich. Everything that right-wing governments dream of. Run by a dictator, built by slavery. No rights for workers, and laws to make unions illegal. The Sask. Party vision.

Building Towers, Cheating Workers

Check out this report by Human Rights Watch: (It's a bit dated, but very disturbing). This is the Sask. Party government's vision of how workers should be treated.

"Building Towers, Cheating Workers

Exploitation of Migrant Construction Workers in the United Arab Emirates

Based on extensive interviews with workers, government officials and business representatives, this 71-page report documents serious abuses of construction workers by employers in the United Arab Emirates. These abuses include unpaid or extremely low wages, several years of indebtedness to recruitment agencies for fees that UAE law says only employers should pay, the withholding of employees’ passports, and hazardous working conditions that result in apparently high rates of death and injury."

Tuesday 24 November 2009

Public perception of unions is misguided

Gary Engler, vice-president of CEP local 2000, recently blew the lid off the situation at Canwest Global, Canada's largest media conglomerate. The corporation is filing for court protection against creditors.
What he revealed at is a startling picture of corporate greed.
Workers at Canwest are being 'restructured', meaning laid off, with no severance pay, as previously promised. Eighty retirees will lose medical, dental and life insurance benefits. One hundred and twenty retirees face reduced pensions. Stock has plummeted from $20 a few years ago to about $0.25 per share. Shareholders will be getting just a few cents on the dollar.

But what about the three directors, four top executives and 13 other senior managers at Canwest? They're walking away with over $9.8 million in bonuses, and retirement benefits for life. Yes, bonuses, on top of already exorbitant salaries.

Canada's legal system allows for this to happen.

So what does this have to do with unions? Well we've all heard the accusations that unions are greedy, either in the media or from people in our lives. Unions have even been blamed for the recent economic meltdown.

The reality is something totally different. The people who run the large corporations, the executives, and their friends in government who make ther rules, are those ultimately responsible for the meltdown. They wanted to get richer, and they did.

Unions advocate for those without much power or wealth. And we believe workers deserve to share in the wealth that they help to create. Every time union members receive a raise, they pay more taxes, and they spend their money locally, supporting Saskatchewan's economy.

Unions push for fair laws, for public services like rural post offices, and for industry regulations to keep products and services safe.

Let's respond to those falsehoods. The answer is found in our trade union principles: "An Injury to One is an Injury to All." Be proud to be union.

Monday 16 November 2009

Companies kill (at least) 16 workers every day of the year

Every Page Blacked Out - Secrecy in Saskatchewan

Check out the blog posting over on the Owls and Roosters Blog entitled: Secrecy trumps transparency as Wall gov’t denies five FOI requests on wage mandate and SAHO negotiations with health care provider unions.

Citizen blogger, Joe Kuchta, exposes the stunning actions of the Brad Wall government related to recent Freedom of Information requests Kuchta made respecting ongoing Health Care Bargaining between SAHO and the provider unions (SGEU, SEIU, and CUPE)

Astonishingly, Kuchta was provided with 10 pages of apparent documentation related to his request with every page completely "blacked out".

The photos above are a composite of the actual 10 pages of "blacked out" material that was forwarded to Mr. Kuchta.

These anti-democratic and secretive actions certainly make a lie of the government's worn out and meaningless slogans including:

“promises and fulfill the commitments of the election, operating with integrity and transparency, accountable to the people of Saskatchewan.”
and to
“demonstrate leadership for good governance, transparency, and accountability across government.”

Saturday 14 November 2009

20 days - 20 ways to end violence against women

The Canadian Labour Congress is asking people to send postcards to the prime minister telling him to take action now to end violence against women, including keeping the gun registry. Barbara Byers, CLC Executive Vice-President, says, "We want the government to keep the long gun registry and to take action on a range of issues that will help to keep women safe."

On November 16th, send the 1st of 20 postcards to the prime minister online!

Tuesday 10 November 2009

Like Father, Like Son

In 1989 the province of Saskatchewan was nearly bankrupted by an incompetent and corrupt government under the leadership of then Conservative Premier, Grant Devine.

20 years later, and 2 short years into the first term of Grant Devine's protégé, we appear to be headed down that same slippery slope. Where did all the money go?

NDP slams minister for missed deficit signals - CBC

Saskatchewan likely facing recession (weasel word for deficit) by end of fiscal year: finance minister - Leader-Post/StarPhoenix

Deficit talk rises in Saskatchewan as potash revenues fall to unprecedented low - P.A. Herald

Friday 6 November 2009

Bargaining against a backdrop of anti-worker legislation

CUPE Health Care Saskatchewan negotiators Mike Keith and Gordon Campbell talk about the current round of collective agreement bargaining in Saskatchewan.

Wednesday 4 November 2009

Voices of Union - Voices of Young Workers

"Young people talk about the importance of Union for them and how Unions can better serve youth in the coming years. This is a preview of a longer documentary that is now in production that will give many youth an opportunity to talk about their relationships to Unions." - Wolf Sun Productions

Monday 2 November 2009

2009 LabourStart Photo of the Year

2009 LabourStart Photo of the Year

"A Bangladeshi boy works in a shipbuilding factory in down town. These factories employ young boys as apprentices without pay for the first few years. They work in extreme conditions without safety tools like gloves, goggles, and other protective gears. In exchange, they learn the skills of the trade. But this costs them loss of health and education."

Sunday 1 November 2009

Brad Wall signing TILMA despite promising he would not

Wander over to the "Owls and Roosters Blog" and read a recent posting entitled: "Sask. Party gov’t refusing to release draft Western Economic Partnership Agreement; Crowns and municipalities consulted, but not public".

It appears from recent refusals by the government to comply with Access to Information requests made by Owls and Roosters owner Joe Kuchta that the secretive Sask. Party Premier and his equally secretive cabinet and caucus have something to hide from the citizens of the province.

We are seeing the Saskatchewan government, under the leadership of Brad Wall practice an anti-democratic, back room, closed door, non-consulative, secretive type of government that shows complete and total contempt for the citizens of this province that he was elected to serve.

Brad Wall said he would not sign the anti-democratic TILMA. Now, despite his promise and assurances, he's doing it - behind closed doors, in secret, with his ideological sole mates - Gordon Campbell (BC) and Ed Stelmach (AB).

Wednesday 14 October 2009

Wall government offer an insult to hard working citizens

Hard working women and men who work in the health care sector in various Saskatchewan communities are saying that the Wall government wage and settlement offer after 17 months without an agreement is an insult.

Monday 12 October 2009

Saskatchewan Federation of Labour 54th Annual Convention

The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour will be holding it's 54th Annual Convention from October 21 - 23, 2009 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

54th Annual SFL Convention
Oct. 21 - 23, 2009
TCU Place
35 - 22nd Street
Saskatoon, SK

Sunday 11 October 2009

New Book: Selling Out - Academic Freedom and the Corporate Market

There's been a new book released entitled: Selling Out - Academic Freedom and the Corporate Market. It is written by University of Saskatchewan Professor Howard Woodhouse.

The promotional excerpt found on McGill-Queen's University Press web-site is reproduced below:

"Selling Out

Academic Freedom and the Corporate Market

Howard Woodhouse

How Canadian universities are abandoning their intellectual independence by capitulating to the interests of big business.

In a powerful defence of the values that define education, Howard Woodhouse uses concrete and vivid examples to show how universities in Canada have been engulfed by the market model of education and how administrators have done little to resist this trend.

Selling Out demonstrates that the logics of value of the market and of universities are not only different but opposed to one another. By introducing the reader to a variety of cases, some well known and others not, Woodhouse explains how academic freedom and university autonomy are being subordinated to corporate demands and how faculty have attempted to resist this subjugation. He argues that the mechanistic discourse of corporate culture has replaced the language of education - subject-based disciplines and the professors who teach them have become "resource units," students have become "educational consumers," and curricula have become "program packages." Graduates are now "products" and "competing in the global economy" has replaced the search for truth.

Challenging the current orthodoxy that the market model is the only way forward, Woodhouse argues that governments have a responsibility to fund universities, recognizing that they are the only places in society where the critical search for knowledge takes precedence.

Review quotes

"Woodhouse argues his case well, providing evidence from several universities and a relevant literature, and showing that the problem he addresses has manifestations throughout the university system in Canada." Patricia Marchak, University of British Columbia

"There can be very few researchers in Canada who know the literature as well as Woodhouse and he draws on it very effectively to support his argument. Selling Out is a powerful defense of the values intrinsically related to universities, and an exceptionally well documented account of the threat to those same values." William Hare, Mount Saint Vincent University

Howard Woodhouse is professor of educational foundations and co-director of the University of Saskatchewan Process Philosophy Research Unit."

Sunday 4 October 2009

Regina and Brandon based fast food restaurants accused of exploiting immigrant workers

An article appearing on the CBC web-site today exposes a disturbing story of alleged worker exploitation by a company which owns a total of 3 fast food restaurants in Regina, SK and Brandon, MB. The article is entitled: Foreign workers miffed over mistreatment.

According to the CBC story, the 4 workers were brought to Canada from the Philippines with promises of employment in Regina, and with promises of expense re-imbursement for airfare and health-care costs.

Shortly after starting their jobs they routinely faced threats and abusive treatment by the employer. In addition they were relocated to the company's Brandon franchise. According to the article the workers were living in a house owned by their employer and were being gouged for rent, paying up to twice as much as what the same home rents for today.

The company in question owns 3 Wendy's Restaurants, and is a member of the Regina & District Chamber of Commerce.

This type of situation is an embarassment to every citizen in this province, and country.

Chamber of Commerce: Out of Touch with the Public

There's a revealing article on the AFL-CIO Blog entitled: Chamber of Commerce: Out of Touch with the Public. To paraphrase, the policies and actions of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (and hence, most other Chambers of Commerce) have destroyed our economies, our societies, and our democracies.

The article is reproduced below:

"Chamber of Commerce: Out of Touch with the Public

Here’s a proposal that makes sense: The Obama administration wants to set up a consumer financial protection agency to oversee the financial markets and make sure working families aren’t the victims of predatory lending, abusive credit card practices and the kind of irresponsibility and greed that have caused our economic crisis.

But the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is putting its big bucks into preventing creation of any agency that would hold financial institutions accountable.

Earlier this month, the Chamber announced it would spend $2 million on an ad campaign opposing a consumer protection agency, and it has taken the lead in lobbying Congress to prevent new rules for our financial system.

Tough new rules—and an agency with the authority to enforce them—would protect families, their communities, the housing market and the entire economy. But the agency might make a small dent in the profits of a handful of huge banks and Wall Street corporations and the salaries and bonuses of CEOs. So the Chamber of Commerce is opposed to it.

The Chamber is paying a price for being out of touch with the country’s priorities. Take energy, for example. While unions, businesses and families across the country are looking for ways to build a new energy economy and solve the climate crisis, the Chamber is virulently supporting the status quo. As a result, three of the country’s biggest energy companies—Exelon, PG&E and PNM—have left the Chamber over the issue, and Nike announced today that it will no longer sit on the Chamber’s Board of Directors.

The Chamber also stands out as a key opponent of a public insurance option for health care—a broadly popular proposal that would offer working families a real choice in health care coverage and ensure that the insurance industry is competitive.

The Chamber also has put millions of dollars into opposing the Employee Free Choice Act and workers’ freedom to form a union and bargain—while taking money from bailed-out banks. That is, the Chamber is using our taxpayer dollars to fight a bill that would give workers more choice when they’re deciding whether to form unions. What is it about giving Americans “choice” that the Chamber doesn’t like?)

And strangely enough for an organization with “U.S.” in its name, the Chamber is hostile to Buy American provisions that would create good jobs for America’s workers.

Even as broad coalitions are trying to turn our economy around, the Chamber of Commerce is leading the movement to maintain the broken status quo that has benefited a few corporations and left everyone else behind."

Thursday 1 October 2009

The Saskatchewan Way - SGEU

Young workers still owed thousands - Wage Theft in Saskatchewan

There's an article in the October 1, 2009 Leader-Post entitled: Businessman pleads guilty to fraud, wherein a part-owner of a Regina based janitorial supply company was convicted of bilking the business and his partners out of $130,000. If you read the story, you'll come to conclusion that this businessman was charged and prosecuted by the "Crown" (government) for basically stealing from his partners and committing a fraud.

Quite a contrast to how some 135 odd young workers are being supported and treated by this same government. I'm talking, of course about stories that have appeared on this blog, and elsewhere disclosing a situation where a Regina based restaurant, Poverino's - ripped off a group of young workers and left them holding the bag for over $62,000 in unpaid wages.

See here for various blog articles:

The most recent development in the Poverino's case is a letter which was sent out to the young workers on July 16th, 2009 telling them that the Ministry of Labour has reached the limit of their ability to assist the young workers to collect the money they are owed. You can read that letter here.

I have a question - How aggressively do you think the government of Saskatchewan would be pursuing this (through the Ministry of Labour and/or Ministry of Justice) if one of these 135 young workers was the son or daughter of the Premier? Or the Minister of Labour?

Wednesday 30 September 2009

Michael Moore's Message to Barack Obama and Blue Dog Democrats

NUPGE gives CFIB the big smack-down

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) has come out swinging against the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) with the release of an independent research paper entitled: An examination of the Public Sector Wage Premium in Canada - A critique of the 2008 study by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) called Wage Watch: A comparison of public and private sector wages.

The NUPGE commissioned study challenges a flawed and biased analysis of public vs private sector wages released by the CFIB in the fall of 2008.

According to NUPGE

".... the CFIB has an established track record of hostility to the public sector. It may be that the CFIB is afraid the wages paid by many of their members will look too inadequate compared to wages in other sectors. It may be the lack of benefits, especially pensions, for workers in their sector will make it difficult for small business employers to attract employees. It’s certainly odd the CFIB hasn’t made the connection that public sector workers spend their salaries in the stores, and purchase the services, of CFIB members.

Over time this incorrect CFIB study began to be quoted as fact in the media and elsewhere. We kept hearing that this dubious large differential really did exist. The mere fact this study was obviously incorrect was apparently not enough to invalidate it. CFIB spokespeople themselves peddled the purported conclusions of this study at every opportunity."

You can read the NUPGE web article on this topic by clicking here. And you can download the complete NUPGE commissioned analysis by clicking here.

Sunday 20 September 2009

Friday 18 September 2009

Trailer - You, Me, and the S.P.P: Trading Democracy for Corporate Rule

You, Me, and the S.P.P: Trading Democracy for Corporate Rule

"What do secrecy, police provocateurs, an assault on democracy and infringements on citizens’ rights have in common? The Security Prosperity Partnership.

‘You, Me, and the S.P.P: Trading Democracy for Corporate Rule’ is a feature length documentary which exposes the latest manifestation of a corporatist agenda that is undermining the democratic authority of the citizens of North America.

Two processes, the Security Prosperity Partnership (SPP) and the Trade Investment Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA are rapidly eroding and eliminating standards, civil liberties, regulatory systems and institutions put in place over generations through the democratic process. Proponents of the SPP and TILMA say that they are needed to keep trade flowing, opponents say these agreements not only undermine the democratic authority of citizens they threaten the sovereignty of the three nations through the integration of military, security structures and regulatory regimes."

Visit the web-site at

Saturday 12 September 2009

Corporate interests come first, citizens and democracy come last

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell, left, Alberta's Ed Stelmach, centre, and Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall conclude a news conference Friday in Calgary. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

On Friday Canada's three western most premiers confirmed that corporate interests trump citizen rights.

Democracy means nothing when your wheels are being greased by the wallets of Big Corporations.

CBC: Western premiers move closer to economic accord
Leader-Post: Western provinces break down barriers

President Obama Speaks to Congress About Health Reform

Friday 11 September 2009

Universal Health Care Message To Americans, Dos Equis, Two X's

Rally for Safety

Rally for Safety

The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour will bring together 190 workers from across Saskatchewan to attend their annual Occupational Health and Safety conference, in Saskatoon.

The conference kicks off on Sunday, September 13 with a keynote speaker, Cathy Walker former OHS Director – CAW, speaking on the exposure to asbestos and the health problems that will lead to death.

Participants will attend workshops covering issues such as: OH&S Act & Regulations; Effective OH&S Working Committees; Harassment Investigations; Workers Compensation; Duty to Accommodate; Asbestos Workshop for Activists; Blame the Worker; Shift work and Toxins in the Workplace.

On Monday, September 14 at 11:30 a.m. there will be a Rally for Safety held at the Provincial Cabinet office at 315-22nd St. East. This rally is being held to call attention to workplace safety and the need to protect workers. Our safety record in Saskatchewan is one of the worst in Canada and Canada’s record among industrialized countries is also dismal. Much needs to be done.

The conference runs from September 13 to September 15 at the Delta Bessborough in Saskatoon and will wrap up with apresentation from SFL President Larry Hubich.

The SFL represents over 95,000 unionized workers from 37 affiliated unions in Saskatchewan.

For more information, contact the SFL Office at 525-0197

Medical Isotopes - Are we being given all the facts?

Community Educational Event
Speaker: Dr. Dale Dewar
Unitarian Centre
Corner of College and Angus (Upstairs)
Regina, Sk.
September 23, 7:30 pm
Everyone Welcome Free Admission. A collection will be taken.
sponsored by: Clean Green Regina
Click image for printable poster (PDF)

Saturday 5 September 2009

Study reveals growing income gap in Saskatchewan - Labour Day 2009

Labour Day is a national holiday to celebrate workers’ economic and social achievements. On the one hand, workers in Saskatchewan have much to celebrate: they continue to be a fundamental driver of the economic and social life of our province. Our labour creates the infrastructure, services and goods that support our communities. We contribute to the economy through our taxes and we spend most of our wages locally.

But this Labour Day, Saskatchewan’s working families are faced with some stark facts about how they have fared from 1976 to 2006. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) Saskatchewan Office has just released the report Boom and Bust: The Growing Income Gap in Saskatchewan. It analyzes Saskatchewan family earnings from 1976 to 2006 and reveals that thousands of low and middle income families have failed to thrive during these years of neoliberal economic policies.

Even though the overall economic pie has been growing, the slices for families raising children, the cohort in the study, showed that income of the bottom half of earners has remained the same, or even worse, decreased in size.
The benefits of the larger pie have gone almost exclusively to the richest 10 per cent of families.

For the half of Saskatchewan families with children that were the least well off, median earnings and after-tax income were actually lower in real terms in 2006 than they were in 1976. And their share of total earnings and after-tax income was lower in 2006 than in 1976. In contrast, the richest 10 per cent of families increased both their real income and their share of total income.

Through periods of both bust and boom in Saskatchewan’s economy, the income gap has widened. Income inequality reached an unprecedented level in 2006.

The data also shows that families are employed more weeks in 2006 as compared to 1976, yet only the richest 10 per cent have made gains in income.

So why does income inequality matter and why should we care that inequality is increasing?

The CCPA study, authored by retired sociology and social studies professor Paul Gingrich from the University of Regina, argues:

The economic costs of poverty are staggering, for taxpaying households and for governments.

• An Ontario report The Cost of Poverty reveals that in real terms poverty costs every household in Ontario from $2,299 to $2,895 every year. The Ontario government loses $10 to 13 billion a year due to poverty, between 10 and 16 per cent of the provincial budget.
• Treating the symptoms of poverty is expensive. Consider the incremental costs to the health system that result from the lower health status of those who are poor, the costs to the justice system, and the costs of government social transfers, when thousands are living on the margins.
• The social costs of poverty are well-known. Societies that allow their social capital to decline face growing incidence of social dysfunctions. When such conditions become endemic, breaking the cycle is extremely difficult, which in turn discourages new capital investment, perpetuating a negative cycle.

The latest international research based on United Nations data sources demonstrate that social problems are related to the distribution of wealth in a society, not to its overall wealth.

• The growing gap in income inequality results in more social problems like mental illness, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, male violence, homicide, incarceration and shortened life expectancy.

Gross income inequalities stand in the way of a vibrant democratic system.

• Frank Cunningham, professor of philosophy and political science at the University of Toronto, sees three attitudinal trends emerging from the growing gap:
• Inequalities foster elitism and resentment. The well off resist progressive change and exert disproportionate influence in the political system.
• As the most well off continue to succeed, they are encouraged ‘to leave the boat’. They isolate themselves from the rest of society physically and psychologically and resist economic measures that are fundamentally redistributive.
• Poor families are threatened with becoming beggars and become dependent on the charity of the well off and of government transfers. These conditions lead to disillusionment, despair, cynicism and low participation in the political system among those at the bottom of the social ladder.

Inequality reduces the life chances and opportunities for children.

• There are too many children trapped in poverty; their full potential to contribute economically and civically is lost. There are also intergenerational and opportunity costs: consider how much productivity and tax revenues society loses when children of successive generations fail to escape poverty.

The findings of this study are critical food for thought and action for governments and communities. Without unions, the gap between rich and poor would be much worse. Unions help reduce the gap by giving workers a vehicle to negotiate better wages, benefits and protections.

This Labour Day let’s celebrate the efforts that the union movement makes to build a more caring and sharing society.

Larry Hubich, SFL president

To read the full the full study, visit and

Thursday 3 September 2009

Celebrate Labour Day 2009 - SFL


The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL), which represents 95,000 workers from 36 national and international unions wishes all citizens a safe and enjoyable Labour Day weekend.

SFL President Larry Hubich said “Labour Day is a good time to get together with family and friends to celebrate our work and our successes. As summer comes to an end, we can reflect on the past and re-dedicate ourselves to improving our lives and our communities.”

“Over the years, workers have organized themselves to improve working conditions, wages and benefits,” said Hubich, “these gains by unionized workers have often been passed on to other workers. The eight-hour work day, pensions, occupational health and safety legislation, harassment protection, and our public health system are among the many advances achieved with the assistance of the union movement.”

“Much remains to be done. Recent studies indicate that the rich continue to get richer, while the poor continue to fall behind,” Hubich added. “A recent study Boom & Bust: the Growing Income Gap in Saskatchewan shows that, between 1976 and 2006, the income of the bottom half of earners has remained the same, or even worse, decreased in size, while benefits of the larger economic pie have gone almost exclusively to the richest 10 percent of families.”

“There is much work to be done. For a start, we should: double benefits for the Canada Pension Plan (CPP); increase low income (GIS) pensions by 15% and introduce a national system of pension insurance,” advocates Hubich. “This would assist in providing retirement security for all Canadians.”

“As well, our Employment Insurance (EI) system must be overhauled to provide for those workers who have lost their jobs because of economic mismanagement. They have paid into the system and should have benefits in time of need,” said Hubich.

“Workers’ rights are under serious attack by those who control our economy. Labour Day is a good time to recognize that those who actually produce goods and services are appreciated as the real movers of our economy. Enjoy the holiday, relax, and get ready to build a better world.”

Wednesday 2 September 2009

The fight for rights

From the September 2009 issue of the SFL Labour Reporter

Times are tough. The economic meltdown means companies are tabling rollbacks and trying to outsource union jobs. Government policies of privatization threaten our public services.

Unions continue to fight this corporate agenda on many fronts – the fall edition of the Labour Reporter will highlight labour’s fightback.

Unions are fighting for decent jobs and for workers’ basic right to unionize. Two current disputes are good examples.

RWDSU local 558 at the Coca-Cola plant in Saskatoon went on strike to protect the contracting out of union jobs. As we go to press, a tentative agreement has been reached.

The CLC has called for a national boycott against Old Dutch. The Alberta plant locked out UFCW 401 and is challenging the corporation’s obligation to deduct union dues.

Many trade unions and workers continue to advocate for their rights using the courts, with some notable successes.

For example, in a landmark Supreme Court decision on freedom of association, RCMP officers recently won the right to unionize.

The New Brunswick Union of Public and Private Employees (NBUPPE/NUPGE) recently had a section of its Public Services Labour Relations Act struck down because it excluded casuals, thereby violating their freedom of association.

Unions are also engaged in strategic campaigns to protect public services and our Crown sector.

Take a look at CUPE’s anti-P3 campaign. It exposes the P3 agenda for what it really is: putting public services like education and health care at risk so right-wing governments can reward their corporate friends.

CEP recently launched the Save Our Saskatchewan Crowns campaign. Find out how the government is making Crown corporations less profitable and potentially easier to dismantle.

Together, Saskatchewan unions are proudly protecting labour rights and the social fabric of our province.

Monday 31 August 2009

Fraser Institute confirms that Wall government amongst most anti-union in North America

The rabidly anti-union and hard-right Canadian corporate lobby group, The Fraser Institute has confirmed that the Brad Wall conservative Sask. Party government is tied for the 2nd most anti-union government in Canada and the United States combined.
In under just 2 short years, Wall and his caucus have ignored the constitutional rights of working men and women in Canada, and brought in legislation that makes it almost impossible for Saskatchewan citizens to exercise their entitlement to Freedom of Association under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The two images below come from the Fraser Institute's report on the "Comparison of Labour Relations Laws in Canada and the United States" (from the years 2006 and 2009).
(Click images for larger view)
You will notice that in 2006 the Fraser Institute rated Saskatchewan's laws governing "Certification and Decertification (Organizing a Union)" as 56th out of 61 jurisdictions (You see, in The Fraser's eyes, workers being able to exercise their constitutional rights and form unions - is a bad thing.).

Now in 2009 (after anti-union Wall and his cohorts have gutted labour laws) the Fraser Institute rates Saskatchewan as tied for 2nd most difficult to form a union out of 61 jurisdictions. (The Fraser loves it when workers have no rights.).

To download complete copies of the Fraser Labour Law Reports click below: