Wednesday 31 March 2010

TILMA 2.0 - Someone isn't telling the truth

Below is an exerpt from the 2010 Throne Speech of the Gordon Campbell, B.C. government, It was tabled in the B.C. legislature on February 9, 2010. (see full speech here...) (download PDF here...)

“We must identify new ways to achieve our goals at lower costs with faster decisions and integrated approval mechanisms if our economy is to thrive and job creation is to revive. New economic growth and smarter government is at the heart of our new west partnership with Alberta and Saskatchewan. It will build on the success of the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement to foster free trade, investment and labour mobility across our three provinces.

We will pursue unified and mutually beneficial purchasing, procurement and licensing opportunities. We will encourage Canada and other provinces and territories to join with us in our continuing efforts to remove all internal trade barriers.

All three western provinces contribute equalization payments to Canada. We are glad to do so, but the burdens of unnecessary protection for other regions at the expense of our provincial economies and jobs must be removed. Airports should be opened to trade, commerce and tourism through Open Skies agreements. That step alone would add $800 million and thousands of jobs to our provincial economy. Open Skies enables international air carriers to bring new business and visitors to communities like Abbotsford, Comox, Cranbrook, Kamloops, Kelowna, Prince George and Vancouver.”

Looks to me like this little TILMA deal (you know, the one Brad Wall said he wouldn't sign) is a lot further down the road that anyone is admitting.

What's in it? Who negotiated it? Why has there been no public disclosure to Saskatchewan citizens? Why is there no public consultation? Who gave the Sask. Party a mandate to negotiate away our provincial sovereignty and local autonomy?

There is something hiding behind the Wall.

The Curious Case of the Missing Recovery

Tuesday 30 March 2010

TILMA by any other name is still TILMA

Today (March 30, 2010) in the British Columbia legislature, a Notice of Motion was tabled in the "Orders of the Day" that advises Douglas Horne (MLA from the right-wing Gordon Campbell government) would be moving the following:

4 Mr. Horne to move —

Be it resolved that this House support the creation of the New West Partnership with Alberta and Saskatchewan which will foster free trade, investment and labour mobility through the development of unified and mutually beneficial purchasing, procurement and licensing opportunities. (
see here.....)
Don't be fooled, this is already a done deal. Brad Wall, Gordon Campbell, and Ed Stelmach will be signing (if they haven't already signed it) a "New" TILMA, and are trying to get away with calling it something else i.e. "The New West Partnership". It's the Trade Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) that Brad Wall promised he would not sign.

The truth of the matter is, that they've just changed the name and are trying to spin it as something else.

I have some questions: What's in this agreement? When did Brad Wall get a mandate to enter into it? Who negotiated it?

Monday 29 March 2010

ILO blasts anti-labour laws adopted by Saskatchewan

News Release

March 29, 2010 --- for immediate release
ILO blasts anti-labour laws adopted by Saskatchewan
UN body instructs government of Premier Brad Wall to consult with labour and work out an acceptable solution to essential services legislation, union organizing votes and a labour relations board all parties can trust.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) has issued a stinging rebuke to the government of Saskatchewan, primarily over two pieces of anti-labour legislation adopted in 2008 (Bills 5 and 6).
The United Nations body has directed the province to go back to the drawing board and rewrite the laws in full consultation and cooperation with workers and labour groups affected.
In an unusually-pointed decision, the ILO – which is based in Geneva – has also instructed the Brad Wall government to keep ILO officials informed of corrective steps as they are taken to bring the province into compliance with international labour standards that Canada as a UN member country is bound to uphold.
“The ILO has told the Wall government that these laws clearly violate international law and the principles of freedom of association. The government has an obligation and a duty to consult meaningfully with those who are affected by the laws it intends to enact,” said SFL President Larry Hubich.
“SGEU is particularly pleased with the decision of the ILO and its impact on our collective bargaining. The outrageous and illegal use of designations to take away our members’ right to strike and force upon us collective agreements which do not reflect free and fair bargaining will be addressed through all means at our disposal including the courts if necessary,” said Bob Bymoen, president of SGEU.
“This government must repeal its regulations and honour our previous agreement. International law is not just about business. It’s also about human rights and it’s time the Wall government started to respect those rights,” added Bymoen.
“The ILO has also stated that the Labour Relations Board, which enforces both Acts, needs to enjoy the confidence of labour, and since the 2008 firings of the chair and vice-chair, those conditions do not exist. That’s another mess the ILO is calling upon the Wall government to fix,” added Hubich.
“Brad Wall’s government appears eager to go out of their way to ensure the province complies with international trade agreements. It’s time they respected and lived up to our international obligations to ensure labour rights and human rights are consistent with those of other modern democracies,” said Hubich and Bymoen.
The ILO Committee on Freedom of Association is referring the decision to the ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations. The Committee of experts is expected to meet in June and to issue a report on the government’s compliance in November.
Download PDF version of news release here....

Saturday 27 March 2010

Media Advisory - SFL News Conference - Monday March 29, 2010

Media Advisory

for immediate release - March 26, 2010

The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL) will hold a news conference:

Monday, March 29th

11:30 a.m. – Campania Room

Delta Regina, 1919 Saskatchewan Drive

Regina, SK

Labour leaders will comment on the decision of the International Labour Organization (ILO) regarding:

· The Public Service Essential Services Act (formerly Bill 5)

· The Trade Union Amendment Act (formerly Bill 6)

· the Labour Relations Board (LRB) and

· The Trespass to Property Act (formerly Bill 43)

The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour, 16 provincial unions and 5 national unions filed a complaint with the United Nations body in 2008.

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

For more information, contact Cara Banks at (306) 533-3423 or 525-0197.

Sunday 14 March 2010

The secrecy continues - somebody has something to hide

On March 8, 2010 citizen blogger, Joe Kuchta, posted an entry on his "Owls and Roosters" blog entitled: "Secrecy continues as Wall government denies third freedom of information request for Western Economic Partnership records".

Kuchta has been attempting for months to uncover the shady and secretive goings on over at the Marble Palace on the shores of the mighty Wascana. Once again, citizen Joe is being denied access to documents that all Saskatchewan citizens have a right to see. The stonewalling, secrecy, and excuses continue.

Kuchta writes:

"For the third time in less than a year, the Saskatchewan Party government has denied a freedom of information request for records pertaining to the Western Economic Partnership between Alberta, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan.

The request, dated January 26, 2010, was submitted to Executive Council for copies of any briefing notes regarding the economic partnership since October 1, 2009. The ministry’s executive director of corporate services, Bonita Cairns, denied the application on March 2, 2010, pursuant to several sections of The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act."
I think Premier Wall has something to hide. If he wasn't trying to hide something, the government would release the documents to Mr. Kuchta.

Saturday 13 March 2010

So-called "Right-to-Work" advocates oppose democracy

Here's a video clip of a U.S. member of congress taking on the Vice President of the National "Right-to-Work" Committee. Notice how the Right-to-Workers detest the concept of democracy.

Sounds just like the current governments of Saskatchewan and Canada, when it comes to workers exercising their constitutional right to free collective bargaining.

Monday 1 March 2010

The importance of being an advocate

The importance of being an advocate

(This is the lead article from the March 2010 issue of the SFL Labour Reporter)

Download complete PDF Version of the March issue by clicking here...

On so many fronts, the labour movement is advocating for a stronger democracy, respect for human rights, and a thriving Saskatchewan economy. This edition shares just a few of those stories.

The SFL Trade Committee is working to expose the provincial government for signing onto an anti-democratic trade deal at the World Trade Organization. The procurement agreement could jeopardize local and provincial government’s ability to support local job creation and smaller businesses.

Guess who brokered the deal? That’s right, the Harper government, the same government who prorogued Parliament to avoid scrutiny over the treatment of detainees in Afghanistan. In a single back-door deal, we see both levels of government moving democracy backward.

Our Solidarity and Pride Committee is preparing arguments to present to the Court of Appeal on the Wall government’s proposed changes to the Marriage Act. The changes amount to discrimination against same-sex couples. Again, our government seems to be moving backwards, in this case around the issue of fundamental human rights.

You’ll also read an update on the Building Trades campaign to have Bill 80 withdrawn. The construction industry is thriving without Bill 80 – the current system provides labour stability, good jobs and a solid apprenticeship system. These things contribute to a stable economy and support tradespeople who want to work and raise a family in Saskatchewan. Call your MLA now. It’s not too late to have your voice heard.

Finally, I invite you to enjoy a special feature on SFL Executive Vice-President, Jan Cibart. Jan is a member of the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses and was recently appointed to the International Labour Organization as a worker representative on the issue of HIV/AIDS in the workplace.

Every time we advocate for fairness, equality and a strong Saskatchewan our trade union values shine through.

In Solidarity,
Larry Hubich

The Saskatchewan Government is making the health shortages WORSE