July 11, 2012 - No. 100
Alma Workers Ratify
Workers' Resistance Ends Rio Tinto
Alma workers applaud
results of the ratification vote, July 5, 2012.
• Workers' Resistance Ends Rio Tinto Alcan's
Phony Lockout - Pierre
Support the Struggle
of the Quebec Students!
• Students Prepare for July 22 Monthly
• Demonstrations and
Mobilizations Continue in Support of the Fight Against the Tuition Hike
• Ruling on Motion to Stay Special Law Takes Up
• Toronto: Conversation
with Prominent Cuban
Journalist Arleen Rodrígues Derivet
• July Tour of Ontario by CLASSE
Alma Workers Ratify
Workers' Resistance Ends Rio Tinto
Mark Maltais, President
of the Syndicat des travailleurs de l'aluminium d'Alma publiclly
announces the ratification of a new contract, to enthusiastic cheers
from the people of Alma, July 5, 2012.
On July 5, the Alma Rio Tinto Alcan (RTA) workers, who
were locked out
by the company for more than six months, ratified the tentative
reached a few days earlier between the Syndicat des travailleurs de
l'aluminium d'Alma and RTA. The tentative agreement was discussed and
voted on by secret ballots at three general
membership meetings of the bargaining units involved: the hourly
workers (production), the workers at the Potlines Maintenance Centre
and the office workers. The hourly workers (there are about 700 in the
plant) voted 82.8 per cent in favour of the agreement; the workers at
the Potlines Maintenance Centre (about
60 workers) voted 92.5 per cent in favour and the office workers (about
83.3 per cent in favour.
Marc Maltais, the president
of the union, announced the
results of the votes at a press conference the evening of July 5. He
said the agreement runs through to December 31, 2015 and that one of
its main features is that there are not going to be layoffs of workers
during the life of the contract.
"This contract is a victory. I will not say it is a
spectacular victory or a crushing victory. We had to let some things
go. We showed openness. We sustained some losses and made some
concessions. But it is still a victory for the union in terms of the
goals we set for ourselves to protect jobs and limit subcontracting,"
he said. He highlighted the importance of the union's fight: "The
employer is not going to be able to look at us in the old way. They
know we are able to fight them."
Maltais said that the union was able to get contract
language that limits the ability of RTA to subcontract the
jobs of the workers. Subcontracting is a mechanism that RTA is using to
force two-tier wages and working conditions in the plant, with a
section of workers working in conditions that are far
inferior to the conditions of the other workers and to
the conditions for which the workers have fought and won in struggles
over many decades. Subcontracting is also being used to
decrease the number of workers who belong to the union making it more
difficult for the workers to wage an effective
fight in defence of their rights and the interests of the people of the
Maltais referred to a provision in the contract that
limits the number of hours of work that the company is allowed to
subcontract to 10 per cent of the hours
worked by the unionized workers. This means, for
example, any reduction in the number of hours worked
by the unionized workers would also see the hours for subcontractors
proportionally reduced. Maltais said that this is a gain
for the union in terms of its demand for a ceiling to subcontracting.
For a long time, the union has demanded that jobs with decent
conditions be protected through the establishment
of such a ratio, whether by setting minimum levels of employment
to the number of tons of aluminum produced per year or through an
on limits to subcontracting. Maltais said that the company refused to
sign anything on minimum levels of employment but that
workers were able to get it
to move on subcontracting.
Dominic Lemieux, the
regional representative of the
Quebec Federation of Labour for Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean, said this is
the first time that workers in any Rio Tinto facility have been able to
get an arrangement
in writing that limits subcontracting. He
said that this
a major gain for the Alma workers and a contribution
to the struggle of all the workers fighting companies that impose
two-tier wages and working conditions.
The main concession in the new contract that Maltais
referred to is that the Potlines Maintenance Centre, with roughly 60
workers at present, disappears as a bargaining unit. All the
jobs at the centre from now on will be subcontracted. The new
contract spells out that the workers currently
at the maintenance centre will be moved elsewhere in
the plant or to other RTA plants in the region. Maltais explained
that the union fought that it be put in the contract that these workers
be let go and on that it won.
Maltais also informed that a back-to-work protocol
with a calendar of 14 weeks was signed. The company has to
reintegrate everybody at work within 90 days of the signing of the
contract. There is a moratorium on labour mobility within the plant
that can last for up to 150 days.
In his comments, Maltais expressed his appreciation that
the struggle in Alma was achieved by mobilizing broad
support from workers across Quebec, Canada and in many other countries.
"We have succeeded in
uniting organizations across the
globe around our cause, a first in Quebec. We wanted decent jobs for
our community and for the future generations. We have done it. We can
be proud of what we have done... Our fight is not over and tomorrow is
Maltais made the point that even though the lockout has
ended, the union is continuing its fight against the secret deal signed
in 2007 between the Quebec government, Hydro-Quebec and Rio
Tinto when RTA bought Alcan. This secret deal, among other things, says
Hydro-Québec must buy all of RTA's unused
hydro during a lockout or a strike. It is estimated that RTA
made about $60 million during the lockout from the sale of electricity
Hydro-Quebec. The Alma union has been waging a campaign for many years
now to demand arrangements that are beneficial to the region in return
for RTA's hydro privileges
in Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean. The theme of the campaign is "Their Need: Our
Hydro-Electricity -- Our Priority: Our Resources, Our Jobs."
Support the Struggle of the Quebec
Students Prepare for July 22 Monthly Demonstration
While continuing their nightly demonstrations, students
are preparing for the next monthly mass demonstration to be held in
Montreal on July 22. The Broad Coalition of Student Union Solidarity
(CLASSE), which is organizing the event, says that first and foremost
the action is to protest the neoliberal Jean Charest
government, the tuition fee increase and the Special Law adopted in
May, as well as the health tax and Northern Plan.
Click to enlarge.
CLASSE rejects the government and the monopoly media
propaganda that keeps saying the movement is losing steam, said
Camille Robert, a CLASSE co-spokesperson.
In terms of its work for the summer, at a press
conference following last month's mass demonstration on June 22, CLASSE
co-spokesperson Jeanne Reynolds stated, "We are going to carry on with
the mobilization and maybe go back on strike in August. During the
summer we are going to organize neighbourhood meetings
across Quebec. We are going to explain our demands to the people and
mobilize as much support as we can."
At the same June press conference, Camille Robert
to a question of CLASSE's plans should an election be called. She
"If the Charest government calls an election, we are
going to go everywhere to explain that this government has persistently
refused to take up its responsibility. People in Quebec are fed up with
this government. We are going to organize the students to fully
participate in the fight if an election is called. " She
said that for weeks the Charest government has been trying to
create a climate of fear in Quebec, using the same methods that the
Harper Conservatives are using which she described as using of any
means to silence the protests so that privatization can be imposed onto
the people. She said that to this must
now be added the issue of the government's financial corruption which
keep reappearing. It is all this and more that CLASSE is
going to raise if the Charest government calls an election.
The Quebec Federation of University Students (FEUQ)
president, Martine Desjardins, for her part reiterated that the student
protest movement's aim now is to defeat the Liberals in the next
Following the June 22 monthly mass protest, she informed
the media that, "FEUQ is very active at the moment including during
festivals. We were very present at the FrancoFolies, distributing red
squares, and we are happy to say that three out of four people took the
square and wore it. We are going to keep on
mobilizing the people's support. We will do it during
festivals and we are also going to talk to the people in their regions.
We will talk to people in neighbourhood meetings and we will also go
door-to-door especially in ridings where the Liberals
were elected with a slim majority in the
last election. We are going to present a true summation of what the
She also said that there is a lot of work to be done in
the regions to explain what is really going on in the education system
and to oppose the Charest government's attempts to divide the
people on the issue of the student struggle.
"This government takes great care in not telling the
people that they too will have to pay more for the financing of the
universities and it is trying to divide the people between students and
taxpayers. Everybody has to understand that we are all in the same
boat. In its plan for the financing of the universities,
the Charest government is going to go deep into the pockets of the
people to finance the universities. We are going to explain all this
because the government is diverting the issue by trying to equate
the student struggle and red square with violence. "
Regarding the possibility that Premier Charest may call
election for September, Desjardins stated:
"We must go and talk to the people where they live and
tell them that we have to do more to get rid of the liberals. We must
put pressure on all the parties so that once the election is over, the
party that gets elected respects the concerns of the students and makes
sensible proposals. Our message today
is that once again the youth are going to change Quebec in the coming
future. On June 22, 1960, the Jean Lesage government was elected and
the youth vote was critical in electing this government and ushering
into the Quiet Revolution. The youth vote can change things. We will
fully mobilize ourselves
in the next election."
Demonstrations and Mobilizations Continue in
Support of the Fight Against the Tuition Hike
Students are continuing
their actions, including the tradition of
nightly demonstrations in Montreal. In various neighbourhoods,
are meeting amongst themselves to discuss how to get the Liberals out
the next election.
78th Consecutive Nocturnal Demonstration in Montreal
Day of Mourning for
On June 30, in response to a call by Mères en
colère et solidaires,
Parents contre la hausse, Parents d'enfant blessé dans une
contre la hausse, Profs féministes solidaires et en
colère et Têtes
blanches carré rouge, some 200 people took part in a Day of
downtown Montreal at 1:30 pm on a Saturday afternoon. The sombre
procession, with participants dressed in black, was a powerful
expression of the people's rejection of the Charest government's
neoliberal dictate, especially its anti-democratic Special Law and
violent suppression of the students and
Quebec's National Day Inspired by Students' Courage and
The pressure from the Liberal government and monopoly
media to make June 24,
St. Jean Baptiste Day, Quebec's National Holiday, an apolitical event
was soundly rejected by the people. In Quebec City, Premier Jean
Charest declared that, "After all we have been through in the past
months, I think we should put politics aside and concentrate on those
things which unite us." To which the artists and participants in the
festivities responded by reaffirming their opposition to the
In Montreal, some 150,000 people gathered in Maisonneuve
the day's celebrations, with many performers and those in the crowd
wearing the red square.
Support from Mexican Student Movement
Hundreds of activists from the "Yo Soy 132" youth and
student movement demonstrated demonstrated in front of the
Embassy in Mexico City on June 15 in solidarity with the students in
Quebec. The youth denounced the Quebec government`s attempts to
increase university tuition fees as well as the imposition
of the Special law by the Charest government. The members of "Yo Soy
132" also took the occasion to add to their manifesto their opposition
to Canadian mining companies operating in Wirikuta, a sacred site for
the Wixarikas indigenous people. During the demonstration the "Yo Soy
132" movement read the following
"Just as the Quebec students have supported our own
fight, we want to salute the more than 175,000 Quebec students on
strike for more than 100 days against the Jean Charest government's
plans to increase university tuition fees by 75 percent in Quebec. Your
'maple spring,' a good example for us all."
Like the Quebec Students, the students of "Yo soy 132"
have organized dozens of actions in very creative ways to make their
demands known as part of the Mexican people's fight for control over
their own affairs.
Ruling on Motion to Stay Special Law Takes Up
On June 28, François Rolland, Chief Justice of
the Superior Court of Quebec dismissed the application for a stay of
Articles 16-21 of Law 12 (i.e., Bill 78, the Special Law). This
was one of two filed on May 25 by the Quebec Federation of College
Students (FECQ), the Quebec Federation of University Students (FEUQ),
the Broad Coalition for Student Union Solidarity (CLASSE), the Quebec
Students Roundtable (TaCEQ), as well
as the Quebec Federation of Labour (FTQ), the Confederation of National
Trade Unions (CSN), Quebec House of Labour (CSQ) and the Congress of
Democratic Trade Unions (CSD). Some 140 claimants from 70
organizations are part of the two legal actions.
In his judgment, Justice Rolland cited the criteria
defined by the Supreme Court of Canada to suspend a law -- there must
be demonstrated by applicants: a) the
b) the possibility
of irreparable harm to the applicants if the stay is refused;
and c) the balance of inconvenience caused to the parties by the
stay, taking into account the public interest.
The judge ruled that only the first criterion was met.
For Judge Rolland, "[The Special Law] was passed by the Quebec National
Assembly whose members were elected democratically."
The Special Law protects the public interest because "If the nature and
declared purpose of the legislation is to promote the public interest,
the courts should not ask whether the legislation actually has this
effect. One must assume that this is the case."
On Articles 16 and 17 of the law, that "preserve peace,
order and security," the judge found that if there is prejudice, "the
balance of inconvenience clearly favours the public interest given the
objectives of the law and the facts found during the events of recent
months (violence, harm and damage),"
taking up the
arguments of the Quebec Attorney General who said, "freedom of
expression is not an absolute right and the provisions in question
merely indicate the right of citizens to peaceful assembly and to
protect the public from all too frequent excesses."
The judge did not protect the students' right of
association either. Whereas Articles 18 to 21 of the Special Law grant
Minister of Education the power to demand that a school stop collecting
the fees set by a student association, and the power to order any
student association to stop making contributions to a federation of
associations, Justice Rolland said it is "essentially hypothetical,
as classes [have been] suspended until mid-August and the student
involved [have] already received their dues for the suspended sessions."
With this decision, he once again echoed the position of the Quebec
Attorney General that marginalizes students stating that "there is a
factual vacuum about the student associations. Freedom of association
recognized by the Charters is
more concerned with associations of
employees as defined by the Labour
This ruling takes up the Charest government's
arguments in effect justifying the undemocratic decisions taken against
the actions of the students and their organizations to defend their
right to organize in defence of the right to education. It should also
be remembered that
on May 1, François Rolland had called for the Quebec Attorney
General to intervene in the case of students who filed injunctions to
resume their courses. He then said, "It is the twelfth hour, not the
eleventh ... There is danger. Someone needs to intervene. I say again,
the prosecutor must intervene."
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Arleen Rodrígues Derivet
Thursday, July 12 -- 7:00 pm
Steelworkers Hall, 25 Cecil St.,
Latin American and Caribbean Solidarity Network, lacsn.weebly.com
Consejo Internacional de Mujeres Latino Americanas y
en Canadá, www.latinascanada.org
Arleen Rodrígues Derivet is a
distinguished journalist. She is the host of the Cuban television
Roundtable" broadcast throughout Latin
America and which won the 1993 José Martí National
Journalism Prize. She was a
member of the National Committee of the Union of Cuban
Journalists (UPEC) from 1986 to 1998 and coauthored the book "El
Camajan" with Lazaro Barredo Medina, which unmasked Cuban
counterrevolutionary Elizardo Sanchez Santa-Cruz Pacheco.
Also present at this event will be the Cuban Ambassador to
Canada, Her Excellency Teresita Vicente Sotolongo.
Click to enlarge.
July Tour of Ontario by CLASSE
Click to enlarge.
The Broad Coalition of Student Union Solidarity
(CLASSE) has announced the start of the Quebec-Ontario Student
Solidarity Tour this week with a tour of 9 Ontario cities in eight
days. The first city visited will be Ottawa.
The aim is to meet with student associations to inform
them of the fight in Quebec. CLASSE co-spokesperson Camille Robert
hopes that the group can build links with associations in Ontario and
exchange strategies on how to mobilize and fight their common struggle.
She added that the protest movement remains
strong and dispelled the idea that it is weakening. Support for the
students remains firm and CLASSE is making sure to keep in touch with
the population so that come August when school resumes, there will be
"Our main objective is to show how we got here,"
explained CLASSE co-spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau Dubois. "We feel a lot
of admiration and curiosity from [Ontario students]. We have a certain
expertise and a duty to share it," he added.
The student movement's strength comes from its method of
organizing, Gabriel Nadeau Dubois said.
"There's no magic to the mobilization," he said. "It's
simply work, structure and strategy. The main key to the success in
Quebec is exportable because it's in our method of organization. The
fact that we have funded and very democratic accredited local student
organizations; the fact that we have strong, well-organized
national organizations that have stood the test of time. They already
have student associations. What we can perhaps inspire in them is the
question of direct democracy."
The Ontario organizers of the tour write: "With a
quarter of a million people marching in the streets of Montreal for
three months in a row, a broad and powerful united resistance has
developed and is shaking Quebec. Despite over a thousand arrests,
police violence, and disturbing anti-democratic laws brought-in
by the Charest Liberal government, the students have held strong.
"Come hear first-hand accounts and analysis explaining
how the strike grew from a campaign calling for access to education
into a people's struggle for democracy and a better Quebec. [...]
"As federal and provincial austerity budgets impact hard
in Ontario, how can we build solidarity as well as a broad, united and
growing movement here in Ontario?"
Thursday July 12 -- 7:00
Agora, University Centre,
Level 0 (Concourse), University of Ottawa, 85 University Private
Friday July 13 -- 6:00 pm
Rm 100, Kinesiology Building,
Queen's University, 28 Division Street
out the event on Facebook
Saturday July 14 -- 6:00 pm
Council Chambers, Hamilton City Hall, 71 Main
Sunday July 15 -- 5:00 pm
21 King Street, St Catharines
Monday July 16 -- 5:00 pm
Commons Area, CAW Student Center, University of
Tuesday July 17 -- 1:00 pm
Tollpuddle Housing Coop, 380 Adelaide St. N.
Tuesday July 17 -- 7:30 pm
Van Gogh's Ear, 10 Wyndham Street North
Check out the Facebook
Wednesday July 18 -- 4:00
Keele Campus, CLH B, Curtis
Lecture Hall, 125 Campus Walk
Thursday July 19 -- 6:00 pm
Room SC 115, Ryerson
Student Center, 55 Gould Street. See map
Friday July 20 -- 1:00 pm
Confederation Square with Food provided by Food
Not Bombs Peterborough.
For more information please call the Canadian Federation
of Students-Ontario (416) 925-3825 and say it is regarding the tour, or
visit the website: http://solidaritytour.tumblr.com
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