Thursday 23 December 2010

Fiacco and crew give Mosaic a 5-year free ride

Regina Mayor Pat Fiacco and Councillor Michael Fougere
So, does a huge global multi-national corporation really need Regina taxpayers and individual home-owners to pick up the property tax tab for them?  How can any politician say they are acting responsibly and in the interests of the citizens when they hand over 1.5 million dollars of taxpayers money to a corporation that never expected to receive the grant in the first place?

Don't let anyone spin it to you in any other way, Mosaic had already decided to set up their corporate headquarters in a new downtown Regina office tower before the brain trust over at Regina City Council got generous and voted to give them an early christmas present. 

According to an article in the December 15, 2010 Regina Leader-Post, the city, school boards, and libraries will all feel the pinch so that Mosaic corporate executives can enjoy their nice new offices. 
"Mosaic is to save about $326,000 in taxes annually for five years. The city's annual share works out to nearly $128,000 a year and $134,000 for schools and about $64,000 to the library."
A check of Mosaic’s October 2010 investor fact sheet from their website will reveal that the company is doing quite nicely already.  In fact, their net assets are stated to be $13.1 billion.

The President and CEO of Mosaic is James T. Prokopanko. According to Forbes, his base salary for 2010 was $933,333.00 plus stock options of $2.4 million plus other compensation for a total of $6,255,588.00. Not bad, eh?

So there you have it, this company can afford to pay their CEO more than $6 million a year, but Fiacco, Fougere, and the rest of them, think they need a tax-payer funded subsidy and a 5 year free-ride.  Has your street been plowed yet?

p.s.  Mosaic was formed in 2004 by IMC Global and Cargill. Cargill holds 64% of Mosaic shares.

Economic Hitmen

Saturday 18 December 2010

Saskatchewan women send News Talk radio a Dear John letter

Below are the most recent BBM ratings (released December 2010) for several Saskatoon and Regina radio stations.  The charts represent the demographic of female listeners aged 18 - 54. 

Enough said!
(click images for larger view) 

Tuesday 14 December 2010

We need open and transparent government

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Sunday 12 December 2010

Corporate greed is eroding foundations of a just society

The following opinion piece is by John Cartwright, President of the Toronto and York Region Labour Council it was published by the Toronto Star on Saturday, December 11, 2010.

Corporate greed is eroding foundations of a just society
John Cartwright

President of the Toronto and York Region Labour Council

Not long ago, a wealthy stockbroker drives by nine men who have been locked out of their jobs at the First Canadian Place. He stops his luxury car, gets out, and utters the words that explain his attitude to their plight.
“The watch I’m wearing is worth more than you earn in a year. Get out of my way!"
Real estate giant Brookfield Properties decided to reduce the conditions of work for these employees. When they would not agree, they were locked out and put on the street.

This cavalier attitude is not just displayed by one company.

Across the country, corporations are engaging in an unprecedented series of lockouts of their employees, demanding that workers’ standard of living be reduced.

Sears in Vaughan, U.S. Steel in Nanticoke and now Hamilton, St. Mary’s Cement in Bowmanville, Genpack in Peterborough, Cadillac Fairview in downtown Toronto, the list goes on.

Hard-working families are seeing their standard of living undermined by the actions of CEOs whose salaries count in the millions or tens of millions.

Does Brookfield really need to save a few thousand dollars in order to keep its profit margin? Not at all. It’s doing this because it has the power to, and today that’s all that counts.

The 21st century corporate culture demands that pension plans be gutted, benefits weakened and jobs outsourced wherever possible.

While the driving force is made up of international companies that have taken over Canadian icons like Inco, they aren’t the only culprits.

Cadillac Fairview is owned by Canadian pension funds, and it had no qualms about destroying the careers of 61 employees who wouldn’t buckle under to its demands.

Even Mayor Rob Ford promises to outsource city cleaning services to contractors who pay poverty wages. And he claims to be “standing up for the little guy.”

There is clearly something wrong with this picture. For generations, people have come to this country to find a better life for themselves and their families. They have helped build a prosperous nation, where most people had access to a decent job and reasonable income.

Governments created laws that struck a balance between the power of corporations and the rights of working people. Most of us were able to find respect for our skills and knowledge, and to be paid accordingly.

In recent years, however, much has changed. The immense greed that fed the global financial markets has seeped into the core values of Canadian business.

Nowadays companies are only happy if there are tax cuts, subsidized profits and a pliable workforce. The same powerful actors who nearly wrecked the world economy are now shamelessly demanding that governments and workers do their bidding — or suffer the consequences.

There’s no doubt that a lot of these guys wear quality timepieces worth more than the rest of us earn in a year. The gap between rich and poor in this country has grown tremendously in recent times.

And unless something happens, it will only grow wider as mid-level incomes disappear from the reality of many families.

Extreme disparity is nothing new. That’s just how things were for centuries. But after the last Great Depression we learned that tough rules are needed to restrain the worst aspects of corporate greed.

A legal framework was put in place that guaranteed workers some basic rights, and allowed a growing labour movement to play a key role in raising the standards of all Canadians. Now, however, the balance of forces has changed dramatically.

It’s time to review the rules and fix them. Companies shouldn’t be allowed to lock out their employees and bring in replacement workers. Nor should they be allowed to utilize temp agencies to create a new form of indentured servitude where people don’t have a right to a stable job.

Labour laws need strengthening so that ordinary people have a fair chance for collective representation. And the loopholes that allow companies to violate employment standards need to be closed.

How long will it be before governments act on these issues? I don’t know. But one thing is certain. If they don’t find a way to stop the abuse of workers that is quickly becoming the norm, the next generation will be worse off than ours.

In the interim, many decent people will suffer for trying to hold on to what they believe is fair. And Canada will not be the kind of country we were once proud to build together.

Sunday 5 December 2010

Let’s do something about poverty! - Poverty Free Saskatchewan

"Let's do something about poverty!


Poverty Free Saskatchewan (PFS) is a new network of individuals, organizations, governments and businesses working toward poverty elimination. PFS recognizes there have been anti-poverty groups working hard for decades in all regions of our province and we wish to support a province-wide movement.
PFS believes people living in poverty are key to all our work and should be involved in all our decision making.

All regions of the province should be involved because everyone has valuable insights into their own unique situations – from northern First Nation communities to urban neighbourhoods and existing local anti-poverty groups.

Poverty elimination will require involvement and commitment from governments, business, community organizations and individuals. PFS values and promotes respect for all perspectives in its poverty elimination campaign."  more....
read more and please support....

Thursday 2 December 2010

Government fails to consult on changes to Human Rights Code

For Immediate Release     Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Government fails to consult on changes to the Human Rights Code

Without conducting any known prior consultation, and in contravention of international law, the Government of Saskatchewan introduced Bill 160 to the Legislature yesterday. The bill will abolish Saskatchewan’s Human Rights Tribunal, the province’s dedicated Human Rights adjudication body and appears to make it more difficult for society’s most vulnerable citizens to protect their Human Rights.

“Bill 160 represents the latest example of a provincial government that ignores international law and refuses to consult prior to introducing legislation affecting everyone in Saskatchewan,” said Saskatchewan Federation of Labour President Larry Hubich. “Human Rights are the fundamental rights of all citizens and the Human Rights Code overrides all other laws in Saskatchewan. Thorough, public, and transparent consultations should be conducted before changes to the Code are even considered.”

The effects of the Bill are far-reaching and appear to consolidate with the Chief Human Rights Commissioner a number of unsettling powers. The proposed legislation seems to, for example, give the Chief Commissioner the power to dismiss Human Rights complaints at a whim and to force complainants to accept settlements offered by offenders.

“It is especially disturbing that consultations with the people of Saskatchewan were not conducted prior to the introduction of Bill 160, because it seems to make significant changes to the Human Rights Code of our province,” said Hubich, “changes that will impact the ability of many in Saskatchewan to have their stories heard.”

The amendments, if passed, will impose unreasonable deadlines for issuing a complaint on society’s most vulnerable. Requirements before a complaint can be heard have also been made more stringent. “It is unclear to us that any of the amendments will actually benefit victims of Human Rights violations,” said Hubich.

Not only does the introduction of Bill 160 continue the Government’s pattern of ignoring international law, but it also continues a pattern of striking against the most vulnerable in our society. The underprivileged victims of Human Rights violations will only face more obstacles.

“The Government should take Bill 160 off the table so that meaningful consultations can be conducted prior to any proposed change to the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.”
- 30 -

The SFL represents over 98,000 unionized workers across the province in 37 affiliated unions.
For more information, contact Heath Smith at (306) 539-6469

Download PDF version here....

CCPA: The Rise of Canada's Richest 1%

Check out the CCPA's newest publication by Armine Yalnizyan entitled: The Rise of Canada's Richest 1%.

"Richest 1% income shares at historic high

National Office
News Release
December 1, 2010
TORONTO – Canada’s richest 1% are taking more  of the gains from economic growth than ever before in recorded history, says a report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).
The Rise of Canada’s Richest 1% looks at income trends over the past 90 years and reveals the  46,000 privileged few who rank among the country’s richest 1% took almost a third (32%) of all growth in incomes between 1997 and 2007.
“That's a bigger piece of the action than any other generation of rich Canadians has taken,” says Armine Yalnizyan, CCPA senior economist and the report’s author.
“The last time Canada’s elite held so much of the nation’s income in their hands was in the 1920s. Even then, their incomes didn’t soar as fast as they are today. It’s a first in Canadian history and it underscores a dramatic reversal of long-term trends.”
Post-war, Canada became more equal with the rise of the middle class but by 2007, the richest 1% reversed equality trends, amassing incomes gains reminiscent of the 1920s."   Read more here....

Download complete report here....

Noam Chomsky: WikiLeaks Cables Reveal "Profound Hatred for Democracy on the Part of Our Political Leadership"


Gearing Up for the Big Issues

Gearing up for the big issues

At the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour’s 55th annual convention in October, nearly 1,000 delegates debated issues, expressed concerns, and reaffirmed the need for people to be active in their communities, promoting the values of those that live and work in our province.

On the heels of the largest convention in the history of the SFL, we have pulled together information on a number of issues important to people in our province.

Since the 2007 provincial election, the government has consistently made the lives of working people more difficult. They have:

• Made it harder for people to participate in democracy and to join unions.
• Taken away the rights of many working people to negotiate fairly with their employers.
• Taken away many people’s freedom to join a union of their choosing.
• Dissolved the Saskatchewan Human Rights Tribunal.
• Ignored the United Nations’ directives to repair legislation that robs working people of their rights.

In order to shed some light on some of the issues that face working people, the SFL continues to conduct the labour issues campaign.

The 2010 portion of the campaign focused on four issues: the profitization of Saskatchewan’s crown corporations and public services, education, human rights, and healthcare.

Inside the December 2010 issue of the Labour Reporter you will find details about the labour issues campaign, including how to request information booklets and presentations for your local, organization, or group, as well as information about the track record of the provincial government on the issues important to people who live and work in Saskatchewan.

You will also find more details about the SFL’s 55th annual convention and an interview with newly-elected treasurer, SEIU-West’s Lori Johb.

I am honoured to have been elected to a fifth term as SFL president, and I will continue to act on the concerns of working people in Saskatchewan.

In Solidarity,
Larry Hubich