Challenges the Workers' Movement Faces
Collapse of a Public Authority that Defends the Public
Interest and Public
class is charged by history to take up the
social responsibilities of nation-building
Entering the New Year is a
good time to reflect on the challenges the
working class faces. The working class has a duty to itself and the
take up the mantle of nation-building. The federal government and those
Quebec, the provinces and territories are depriving the people of a
authority that can defend them from the rapacious global monopolies.
private interests dictating the affairs of state have overwhelmed the
The existing public authority defends dominant private
monopoly right. This is seen in the wrecking of the economy with
the seizure of public resources to pay the rich, the privatization and
downsizing of social programs and public services, the entering into
arrangements controlled by global monopolies, and the elimination of
regulations and rules that restrict the actions of the predatory
permit the usurpation of political power by private interests.
The well-being and security
of the people and their social and natural
environment are at great risk because of their disempowerment and the
wrecking of their political, social, cultural and organizational
cohesion. Not a
week goes by without announcements from global monopolies of closures
as Kellogg's, Heinz and U.S. Steel. Not a week goes by without news of
environmental disaster or risk to the people's health from pollution.
is the case with announcements of omnibus bills and retrogressive
The working class is the only social force large enough
and with the
determination, aim and social consciousness to reverse the wrecking and
a new direction for the economy. The interests of the working class are
by moving the country forward to new arrangements that harmonize the
individual interest with the collective interest and the individual and
interest with the general interest. With its decisive position at the
centre of the
production of goods and services, the working class through organized
with analysis can forcefully raise the banner of public right and
in opposition to monopoly right and nation-wrecking.
A serious challenge facing the working class under
today's conditions is
how to organize the collective defence of wages and benefits
with the work performed. The claims of workers on the value they
should reflect the high level of productivity the modern socialized
has reached. The duty of the working class also encompasses a struggle
defend the pensions workers have won, and the right to pensions for all
seniors can live in dignity. Importantly, it requires a defence of work
workplaces to stop the monopoly wrecking of the production of goods and
services and the loss of value that comes to the economy with shutdowns
layoffs, and to overcome the scourge of unemployment and
The working class is tackling how to become effective in
carrying out its
social responsibility to fight for modern and safe working conditions
workers to produce goods and services of the highest quality. The
conditions of rail workers are the safety conditions of passengers and
communities through which rail traffic passes. The same is the case for
workers in terms of passenger safety, as well as food production
it comes to the quality and safety of the food the people eat and their
collective food security. The working conditions of teachers and
support workers are the learning conditions of students, the country's
precious resource. Working conditions in hospitals, nursing homes and
residences are matters of life and death for patients, seniors and all
need public care for their well-being. The work and working conditions
working class in general are the bedrock of the socialized economic
which the people and country depend for their well-being and security.
With the collapse of a
public authority that defends public right and the
public interest, the unions which are part of that public authority are
themselves tackling their inability to fulfil the role they were
created to play.
The working people must discuss this serious problem. How are they to
renovate the role the unions must play as defence organizations at a
unions are being criminalized for playing their role, or threatened
liquidation as a result of anti-union legislation? This task requires
conscious approach. In the collective battle to defend the rights of
can succeed in finding a way forward. Within that struggle, workers can
must uphold their own dignity and affirm the dignity of a modern
guarantees the rights, well-being and security of all its members and
the social and natural environment.
To accomplish this, the working class must take stock of
the situation and
fight to preserve its unity against the attempts of the state to sow
doubt in its
ranks. The workers must guard against those agents of the state who
working class is confronted with a failure to provide historic problems
historic solutions revert to recriminations against those fighting to
find the required solutions.
The need for modern organization based on modern
consciousness is a
matter of activating the human factor/social consciousness. This is
of saying that what is required is to involve the rank and file in the
of problems so that they can elaborate the agendas they want to
resolve the crises in a manner that favours them. The organized
deprive the monopolies of their power to wreck the economy and deprive
people of their rights must be recognized and nurtured. It must be
and developed in the coming year.
All Out to Hold Governments to Account!
Public Right, Not Monopoly Right!
Manufacturing Yes, Nation-Wrecking No!
A People's Canada Is Necessary!
Why Should Private Business Decisions
Harm the Economy?
notice: no equilibrium based on recognition
of the public interest, no right to do business in Canada!
Recent decisions by foreign
monopolies operating in Canada will have
disastrous effects on the local and broader economy. The first was the
by U.S. Steel to permanently close the blast furnace at the Hamilton
steel mill. The second was the announcement by U.S. finance capital to
the Heinz vegetable plant in Leamington, Ontario. And the latest, the
to close the Kellogg's plant in London, Ontario.
The U.S. companies involved say their decisions are
matters concerning their investments and are not negotiable. They say
decisions are in the best interests of the private owners and are not
wreck the Canadian economy even though that is the result. According to
them, their first responsibility is to their ownership groups who
highest return possible on their investments.
In the Heinz Leamington decision, the billionaires
William Buffett and Bill
Gates own the most shares and hold the most authority in the Berkshire
Hathaway half of the company. The other half of the Heinz ownership is
Capital, a global investment company whose principal owners are Jorge
Lemann, Marcel Telles, and Carlos Alberto Sicupira from New York and
de Janeiro. Lemann is reportedly the richest man in Brazil. After the
groups took over Heinz in mid-2013, the new ownership appointed
Hees as the CEO of Heinz. Hees is the former CEO of Burger King
Worldwide Inc, a company owned by 3G Capital.
The CEO of U.S. Steel is Mario Longhi, a former leading
the global monopoly Alcoa.
These are the individuals who took the decisions in the
Leamington shutdowns although none of them, at least publicly, has the
remotest stake or connection with the two communities involved or even
Canada for that matter, other than as an economy to exploit.
For their part, the federal and Ontario governments have
these decisions to wreck production in Ontario are private business
The governments say they have no right, authority or inclination to
or change the decisions that private companies make or do not make. The
media also, except for working class tribunes such as TML, repeat the
that ownership and control of companies render business decisions a
their authority and right to serve their own narrow private interests
though those decisions may devastate the economy and harm the
of the people.
The viewpoint condoning
wrecking and conciliating with monopoly right
is part of the politics of neo-liberalism. Whereas under laissez faire
a liberal democracy established a civil society in which rights based
ownership of private property prevailed, today, in the relation between
interests and public interests, neo-liberalism declares that private
interests dominate and have the right to trump all other interests.
It is not possible to equate private monopoly interests
with the general
interests of society, which the stranglehold of the monopolies
smash. The neo-liberals declare that private business decisions must
ownership group and not the general interests of society. Control of
monopolies resides in the hands of small groups of finance capitalists,
are in competition with other ownership groups battling for windfall
For an ownership group to succeed, it is said, secrecy, privacy and the
to decide whatever is in the best albeit narrow interests of a
ownership group are necessary otherwise windfall profits may be lost
competitors will prevail.
The working class, holding no political power at this
time, faces a political
mafia that imposes neo-liberal arrangements of inter-monopoly
wherein monopoly right trumps public right and governments are taken
directly by private monopolies. Not only the civil service is replaced
contractors, but also many government departments and even the security
armed forces, the prison system and other institutions are contracted
Monopolies have grown into monsters of stupendous global
size, such as
Berkshire Hathaway, which owns and controls companies with combined
of $428-billion, an annual gross income of $163-billion and 290,000
employees. Some of these monopolies such as KPMG, Deloitte and UBS,
despite very shady records of grand theft and self-serving advice and
are paid from the public purse to achieve the destruction of public
pensions, employment insurance, compensation for injured workers, etc.
Meanwhile, the political mafia ensure their role in government is
legitimate, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.
The monopolies made the Hamilton, Leamington and
decisions to close perfectly good facilities and wreck the local and
economy to serve their own narrow private interests. No alternative
serve the local and broader Canadian economy and public interests has
presented for discussion and action because the companies involved do
want any alternative even though it could very well be viable.
the cowardly acquiescence of their governments, are deprived of their
right to a say and control over their own economy and in these cases
steel and food sectors, which are basic to the well-being, sovereignty
survival of the people.
The relationship with the monopolies has become
completely one-sided in
favour of monopoly right. The lack of any mutual benefit with the
monopolies is a particular concern. No mutual benefit between the
and people and no equilibrium based on recognition of the public
as narrow private interests trump the broader public interests, as
right trumps public right. This is not only wrong but dangerous.
What should the working class think and do about this
the takeover by private monopoly interests of the public interest must
continue. Such a downward spiral spells disaster for the economy and
Governments refuse to take any action in defence of
public right. Plainly,
the working class through its own organizations and media must rally
people to change the situation. Private business decisions that affect
interest must be brought under popular political control. The people
allow the monopolies to hide behind the deceit of privacy when a
obviously public and directly affects the local and broader economy,
interest and natural and social environment.
The People Must Change the One-Sided
with the Monopolies!
Monopolies Take Notice: No Mutual Benefit with the
People and Their Economy,
No Right to Be in Canada!
Notice: No Equilibrium Based on Recognition of the Public Interest,
to Do Business in Canada!
Canada Post's Drastic Cuts in Postal Services
On December 11, six months ahead of the scheduled review
of the Postal
Charter, Canada Post announced plans to make devastating cuts to postal
services and raise stamp prices for the public. In a document entitled
Post's Five-point Action Plan," the corporation is proposing to "build
foundation of a new postal system."
While the proposals are being presented with high
sounding ideals like "to
better serve customers," and that "changes will emphasize convenience
secure delivery," it is clear that the intent is to further streamline
office to serve monopoly corporations and large volume mailers and to
facilitate the privatization of postal services at the expense of
universal postal service to all Canadians.
The proposals five main points are:
1) The elimination of
door-to-delivery by letter carriers, which is to be
replaced by community mail boxes. This would result in the elimination
jobs over the next five years and eliminate letter carrier service that
in existence for more than 150 years. This would result in an enormous
in the production of value, which would be a huge blow against the
the level of service Canadians expect from their public post office.
2) Drastic increase in the price of stamps. The proposed
price per stamp
being proposed would be $0.85, up from $0.63 as it is today for letters
g mailed within Canada. This price only applies to stamps being bought
books or coils. Stamps bought individually would cost $1.00. The
U.S., international and oversized mail weighing more than 30g would
increase. The corporation will continue to provide large volume mailers
"deep discounts," so they would pay significantly lower prices for
service. Canada Post calls this "an incentive" for corporations to
mail for sortation. Discounts are also being proposed for businesses
organizations that use postage meters.
3) Further expansion of postal franchises, which means
elimination of Canada Post's retail offices and the complete
the retail operations of Canada Post.
4) Further consolidation of mail sortation and
distribution. This means
closing down more mail processing plants and centralizing sortation in
or four plants across the country. This has already been implemented in
cities such as Quebec City, Windsor, North Bay resulting in damage to
local economies and a deteriorating postal service for the vast
5) Accelerated attacks on
the wages and benefits of postal workers, which
the corporation describes as "addressing the cost of labour." Part five
corporation's proposal states, "The company will continue to bring the
labour in line with its competitors through attrition and collective
over time. Canada Post will also take the necessary steps to
address the sustainability of its pension plan."
The document clearly indicates that these drastic
measures are not enough.
The corporation is planning further attacks on the public post office
wages, working conditions, benefits and pensions of postal workers. In
section called "Future Options Under Consideration," the company
that the frequency and speed of delivery is also up for discussion next
during the review of the Canadian Postal Service Charter. This is a
threat to five-day delivery and the present delivery standards, which
corporation will not be able to maintain when mail processing is
in a few major centres across the country.
While Canada Post's "Action Plan" may temporarily take
the focus away
from the pension plan, the corporation makes it clear near the end of
document that it intends to "restructure the Plan." It is not
accidental that the
day before Canada Post released this "Action Plan," Finance Minister
Flaherty announced that the government decided to allow Canada Post
temporary pension relief so the corporation can continue not to make
required solvency payments for another four years. This gives the
an opportunity to divert revenue, which should be put into the pension
into implementation of the "Action Plan" and further dismantle postal
The document says, "The temporary relief gives Canada
Post a brief
window in which to transform. During this time, Canada Post will act
urgency to restructure the Plan in order to ensure its long-term
Postal workers know what Canada Post means when they
talk about long-
term sustainability. In the last six months, the company has already
unilaterally raised the pension premiums paid by workers. The
refuses to recognize that the pressure on the pension plan is because
office has been and continues to be systematically dismantled and
with fewer services and tens of thousands of fewer workers producing
According to Canada Post, the problem with the plan is that "people are
healthier and living longer," and that "long-term interest rates have
chronically very low." The negative attitude of the corporation towards
pension plan means that postal workers must call on every ounce of
and organization they can muster, and prepare to defend the security of
These latest plans of the
corporation are an integral part of the Harper
government's ongoing attempts to wreck the public post office to
most powerful monopolies. Minister of Transport Lisa Raitt issued a
release December 11 saying she looks forward to seeing progress
from this plan. She has been repeating the lie "that mail volumes have
almost 25 per cent per household in the last five years," and on that
supports the idea of "eliminating door-to-door delivery in urban areas."
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers held a press
11 in Ottawa to condemn the announcement by Canada Post. National
President Denis Lemelin stated that this unilateral action by the
would gut the post office. He said the Union was informed about the
point Action Plan" at 7 am that morning and immediately called on the
corporation to withdraw the document and consider options other than
services. Mr. Lemelin called on all Canadians to stand up and fight for
public post office and promised that the Union would stand with them.
concluded the press conference saying, "Canada Post belongs to the
Canada and they should have a say about the kind of postal service they
We should take this opportunity to have a full nationwide discussion so
can express their views about the unilateral cutbacks imposed by the
government and Canada Post."
To organize such a
discussion is an urgent priority. Across the country,
postal workers have been making their views known for a long time. They
have also been suffering the consequences of the reorganization of
Post. Several suicides are reported of workers who could not take the
a day longer. The situation shows that the discussion is not a matter
conciliating with a reorganization of the post office based on plans to
the production of value, privatize the post office or extort
workers to deprive them even more of pensions, benefits and wages
commensurate with the work they do and safe working conditions
modern civilized country.
The Harper government is causing as much damage as
possible before the
next election in 2015. Workers and their allies in all strata should
government to call an election before 2015 because of its corruption
outrageous wrecking measures it is taking. In their fight to oppose the
destruction of Canada Post and their rights, which the Harper
facilitating, workers should focus on their demands for a modern public
office and not on the scheming of the company executives for a private
institution from which only a privileged few will profit.
Canada Post's Propaganda Offensive for Wrecking
Postal workers oppose
Canada Post's attacks
during 2011 strike and lockout.
The announcement of Canada
Post's "Five-point Action
Plan" has been
accompanied by the release of an avalanche of statistics to convince
that Canada Post is failing and that a public postal service is
monopoly media have taken the opportunity to present exaggerated
calling for the elimination of universal postal service and full
Deliberately exaggerated claims are being made to
convince people that the
sky is falling on Canada Post and the corporation has no choice but to
postal services, raise postage prices and attack the wages and benefits
workers. The media report doom and gloom over a drop in first class
volumes. The Conference Board of Canada projects that by 2020 the
corporation will be facing an operating loss of $1 billion per year.
plan is said to be facing a $5.9 billion solvency deficiency and
because of this
must be "restructured." All of this desperate talk is to paralyse
thinking as to a pro-social new direction for the public post office to
people and nation-building.
A review of the corporation's financial reports of the
last several years
shows that these statistics and projections are not just exaggerations
many cases outright lies.
But putting the statistics aside, neither the
corporation nor the Harper
government has been able to explain why more than $2-billion have been
invested in the past few years to modernize mail processing and
delivery if the
post office is failing. Do they think that Canadians are so gullible
will believe that billions of dollars would be invested in a sector of
economy that is supposed to be "dying" and "a thing of the past"?
The facts show the opposite is the case. The profits of
UPS, FedEx, Pitney
Bowes and other monopoly corporations in the communications sector have
been steadily rising. The demand for the privatization and deregulation
Canada Post is not because it is failing but on the contrary, the
the public post office is the potential source of super profits for
It is more than dishonest for the corporation to claim
that the "Action
Plan" and the drastic cuts are due to loss of mail volumes and the
crisis facing Canada Post. This is the continuation of "Postal
which was put in place by Moya Greene who was appointed President and
CEO of Canada Post in 2005. Before any noise began about lower mail
volumes and during a period the corporation was making hundreds of
of dollars of profit every year, Moya Greene explained her plan to
the Post Office. She pointed out that the goal of the corporation was
"modernize and revitalize Canada Post" to reorient it to serve big
stressed that the approximately $2-billion investment was being made to
advantage of the fact that one-third of the workforce would be retiring
coming years. She said, "This is an opportunity to synchronize
plans with the pace of retirements."
Since then we have seen the
disastrous effects of new
and restructured letter carrier routes. Thousands of jobs have already
eliminated including practically all mail service courier positions
drivers) where "Postal Transformation" has been implemented. The
pressure on workers has taken a heavy toll in injuries, and in the
alone, several suicides of letter carriers have been reported due to
unbearable working conditions.
Along with "Postal Transformation," the corporation,
the Harper government, has been implementing privatization and
Deepak Chopra, previously President of Pitney Bowes Canada and Latin
America, was appointed by Stephen Harper to head Canada Post in 2011.
Since that time, the destruction of the public post office has been
More than 60 major Retail Post Offices have been closed in large urban
centres across the country and replaced by hundreds of postal
located in major drug store chains and convenience stores.
With Bill C-9, a federal budget bill in 2010, the Harper
succeeded in taking international letters out of the exclusive purview
Canada Post. With this bill, the government legalized the existing
operations of businesses known as "remailers" that were handling
for international destinations. By sneaking deregulation into a budget
avoid debate, Harper enabled large private mailers to take millions of
of revenue from Canada Post each year.
Stephen Harper and Deepak Chopra are not modernizing the
they are dismantling it for the benefit of the monopoly corporations
represent. The investment of billions of dollars and the attacks on the
working conditions and benefits of postal workers are integral parts of
Harper government's plans to sell off the public assets of the Post
Office at a
low price with minimum risk for the buyer. Canada Post's "Five-point
Plan" is another step on the road towards the destruction of the public
Office and Canada's national economy.
The struggle of postal workers for sustainable working
wages benefits commensurate with the work they perform is an important
block to the wrecking plans of the Harper government. The more than
postal workers and over 20,000 retirees must unite with other workers
the country to demand the recognition of their rights and a Canadian
of living that reflects the highly developed productive economy. Postal
other workers and their allies amongst a broad section of Canadians are
determined not to allow private interests to appropriate the assets of
post office that workers have built over many years through their hard
Harper must be stopped!
Broad Canada-wide support
for the just fight
of postal workers
for proper working conditions and to
to defend the public post office in 2011.
Closing of Kellogg's Cereal Plant in London
2009 lockout of Kellogg
workers based on the company's
treatment of workers as a cost of production
and its demands for concessions. (D.
Ontario manufacturing continues; public authority
In a terse statement, the U.S. monopoly Kellogg said
that next year it will
begin to wind down its ready-to-eat cereal manufacturing plant in
Ontario and permanently cease food production by the end of 2014. More
550 members of Local 154G of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers
and Grain Millers Union and 65 non-union employees will lose their
Kellogg had previously announced on November 5, that 110 unionized
would be laid off New Year's Day, 2014, while eleven managers were
Kellogg also stated that a snack manufacturing plant it
Charmhaven, Australia will also be closed and a food manufacturing
Rayong, Thailand will be expanded. Reports suggest that Kellogg will
gradually transfer cereal manufacturing from London to plants in
Pennsylvania. Whether this entails pillage of the means of production
London plant has not been revealed.
Workers at the London Kellogg plant produce a wide
variety of well-
known cereals including Corn Flakes, Frosted Flakes, Bran Buds, All
Bran Flakes and Raisin Bran. Food manufacturing began at the plant in
and underwent a $223-million renovation and expansion in 1985.
The statement said, "Kellogg Company today announced
to optimize its global manufacturing network ... [to] unlock cost
[CEO John] Bryant said, `We are taking action to ensure our
network is operating the right number of plants and production lines --
right locations -- to better meet current and future production needs
evolving needs of our customers'."
The "right number," according to the narrow private
interests of the
monopoly does not include the unionized plant in London but does
non-union government subsidized smaller one in Belleville, Ontario,
opened in 2008 to "unlock cost savings" by stealing the claims of
the value they produce. The crime against workers uses the propaganda
of labelling their claim on the value they produce as a cost of
The Ontario Liberal government gave Kellogg a grant of
2007, and an interest free $9.7-million loan in 2008, to build the new
union plant in Belleville to "unlock cost savings." The loan was 10 per
of the company's capital investment in the new plant, which produces
Mini-Wheats cereal. This year, the Liberal government announced another
the Belleville plant of $4.5-million. The government has not yet said
closure of the London plant will affect the grant.
In a statement on the London plant closure, Ontario
Kathleen Wynne expressed "disappointment" and then went on to list the
names of various monopolies that have promised new investments in the
province. The Harper federal government has said nothing.
Another example of
Kellogg's wrecking of communities: lockout of workers in Memphis,
to force concessions, which began on October 22, 2013.
This latest manufacturing shutdown, coming just days
announced massive wrecking of Canada Post, is very disconcerting for
working class to say the least. Under the hoax of "cost savings," the
of value is being destroyed in Canada in both the goods and services
producing sectors. How are Canadians to work and live without the
of value in their own economy? The ready-to-eat cereals produced in
will now have to be bought from the United States. This means an
value will leave the country rather than having workers produce that
here. This deprives the country of jobs and wealth.
The public authority does nothing to prevent this attack
on Canadians and
destruction of the production of value. Governments and capital-centred
flunkies turn truth on its head and routinely call destruction of the
of value and the theft of workers' claims on the value they produce, in
the goods and services producing sectors, as unlocking "cost savings."
The Harper federal government and the Ontario Liberal
over huge sums of public money to these monopoly wreckers and then
them to tear down the economy, steal the claims of workers, destroy
the production of value, and even transfer production to the U.S. and
elsewhere. If the people allow this to happen without resistance, the
does not look good. An organized resistance is not only possible but
to defend the people's economy, well-being and security. To do so is to
up the task of political empowerment. The people need political
to create a public authority that defends the economy and the
security of all, a public authority that engages in nation-building not
wrecking. Such a public authority is the responsibility of the people
through their own determined organizing, thinking and actions with
In the Kellogg case, the public authority could
immediately act to stop the
shutdown of the London plant and prevent the theft or destruction of
means of production. Some alternative to closure could be found.
if the Kellogg monopoly is unwilling to come to some arrangement, the
government could tell Kellogg that only products the company
in Canada will be allowed to be sold in Canada. Also, at what point is
seizure of assets of Kellogg's London plant justified to pay back the
government donations to the Belleville plant and for restitution for a
of trust or fraud in this wrecking of a significant part of the
If Kellogg refuses to stop its wrecking path, the
manufacturing of cereals
under different names using locally produced grains could continue in
London plant using a joint worker/government initiative or some other
arrangement. If governments have all this public money available as
to serve the narrow private interests of the monopolies, such as the
million Ontario is to give Cisco Systems, it should be able to find
amounts that serve the broad public interests of Canadians to guarantee
employment, well-being and food security, and the country's
Defend the Production of Value in
Canada! Keep the
Kellogg's London Plant Producing! Manufacturing Yes! Nation-Wrecking
Canfor Mill Shut Down in BC While
Another Opens in China
On October 24, forestry giant Canfor announced that it
would be permanently closing its Quesnel mill and laying off 209
employees because of a lack of timber caused by the mountain pine
infestation. The Quesnel mill was one of the few mills in British
Columbia that cut metric-sized wood for the Chinese market.
Interestingly, a little over a month later on November
26, Canfor announced plans to invest in a new joint venture mill in
China on the country's northern coast. This mill will be importing
lumber from British Columbia and cutting it into metric sizes for
Canfor's joint venture is
with a Chinese-based company, Tangshan Caofeidian Wood Industry Inc.,
which is a division of the giant Hebei Wenfeng Industrial Group. The
Industrial Group set up Caofeidian Wood with the expressed goal "to use
Canada and the world's global forest resources to feed China's growing
demand for wood products." The Group has a Canadian affiliate, LJ
Resources Ltd. and currently owns 16 per cent of the shares of BC-based
Another interesting feature of this new
Canfor/Caofeidian Wood venture is that Caofeidian Wood is involved in
the development in northern China of a nearby massive deep water port
that, among other functions, will be a hub for the importation of
lumber and raw logs from BC and other locations. This "Log Port," as it
is called, will include a fumigation facility, which is important,
because without it, wood can only be shipped to it in winter
months. Russ Taylor of Vancouver-based Wood Markets Group says,
"the BC logging sector now has the opportunity to export logs
year-round to a new port."
Raw log exports, of course, are a controversial issue in
British Columbia, as well as other jurisdictions such as Washington
State and New Zealand. In recent years, the export of raw logs from BC,
especially to China and especially from coastal BC, has been ramped up
to record levels with 47 million cubic metres being exported between
2002 and 2012. At the same time, dozens of mills have closed in BC and
an estimated 35,000 forest sector jobs have been lost.
The Canfor/Caofeidian mill announcement coincided with
other announcements made during Premier Christy Clark's visit to China.
According to one news report, an early-stage agreement between a group
of Chinese investors (under the umbrella of the China New Energy
Chamber of Commerce) and the BC government "could see as much as $1
billion invested in Canada by Chinese companies," especially in the
area of wood pellet plants. Wood pellets could be used to supplant coal
in China where air pollution from the burning of coal is a major
problem. In Canada, an estimated half of "the north-western BC wood
basket is too poor to use as lumber," but could be used for pellets.
Pellet production requires fewer workers than mill production.
Will this be the shape of things to come in British
Columbia? Is there a globalized division of labour at work here,
whereby BC exports more raw logs, as well as relatively unprocessed
dimensional lumber and wood pellets to China, while China gets to
the raw logs and semi-processed wood into a wide range of value-added
products to be sold at home and abroad?
All of this is undoubtedly good for Canfor and its
Chinese partners. But the question must be asked: Where will BC
communities and our forest resource fit into this globalist vision?
Will BC's forestry manufacturing sector be enhanced and developed, or
will the province be further reduced to a reliance on the export of raw
or semi-processed natural resources, a plantation for globalist
The Premier, Canfor and Chinese investors are making
deals behind closed doors in Beijing about BC's forest resources, but
what about public and community input? Why are all the decisions in the
hands of globalist corporations who don't think twice about shutting
down mills in one country while opening them up in another?
1. St. Denis, Jen. "Canfor planning wood
joint venture in China," Business
Vancouver, November 27, 2013.
2. Vanderklippe, Nathan. "China, Canadian groups sign pacts as Beijing
targets forestry sector," Globe and
Mail, November 26, 2013.
Justice for Injured Workers
Ontario Injured Workers' Groups Protest at
Ministry of Labour
outside Ministry of Labour in Toronto to demand justice for injured
workers, December 9, 2013.
The Ontario Network of Injured Workers Groups (ONIWG)
held its 22nd annual Christmas demonstration at the Ministry of Labour
in downtown Toronto on December 9, while at the same time activists in
London rallied outside the constituency office of Health Minister Deb
The Toronto event was attended by over 200 people,
including many injured workers as well as members of the Local 1005 of
the United Steeworkers (USW) from Hamilton, the Steelworkers' Toronto
Area Council, the Public Service Alliance of Canada, the Canadian
Union of Public Employees, the Ontario Public Service Employees'
Union, the Power Workers' Union, the Ontario Federation of Labour and
the Workers' Centre of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist).
In London the action included a Christmas dinner for
participants and the distribution of the latest issue of Justice For Injured Workers to
London action outside
Health Minister Deb Matthews' constituency office, December 9, 2013.
Both demonstrations were characterized by a militant
spirit demanding that the rights and dignity of injured workers be
affirmed in the face of brutal attacks by the government and the
Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) on their claims and
In Toronto, following the introduction of the new ONIWG
executive, attendees shouted slogans, four of which highlight the
specific demands of the injured workers: "Full Cost of Living!;" "No
More Deeming!;" "Universal Coverage!;" and "Justice Humanely and
Karl Crevar, a long-time injured worker activist asked
for a minute of silence for Darrell Sanderson, a double amputee and
well-known injured worker activist who passed away recently. Karl noted
that Darrell spent many years of his life working for the rights of
people with severe work-related disabilities and those who had lost
their lives at the workplace.
Karl's comments expressed the fight of the injured
workers for their rights. He noted that the Ontario Ministry of Labour
deliberately targets injured workers and denies them their right to
benefits. He denounced the unholy alliance between the Ministry of
Labour and the accounting monopoly KPMG which the government has hired
to justify increasingly brutal cutbacks to benefits for injured
workers, forcing more and more injured workers and their families to
join the ranks of the poor in Ontario.
Ippocratis "Jimmy" Velgakis, a worker who was injured in
1991 and denied his claim by the WSIB for over 20 years, spoke about
the two hunger strikes he has undertaken to bring attention to his
state of destitution. After his first hunger strike, the WSIB promised
action but, he said, it was a ruse to get him to stop his protest. His
second hunger strike this November ended after 11 days when the WSIB
tribunal promised him a hearing. Mr. Velgakis pointed to his case as an
example of how the WSIB abuses injured workers and tries to get them to
give up affirming their rights in various ways.
David Marshall, head of the WSIB, was loudly denounced
for aggressively denying injured workers' claims, which has earned him
an annual 20 per cent bonus for his "achievement" of retiring the WSIB
"unfunded liability" and finding other "efficiencies" in service
delivery. The participants called for his resignation and demanded an
end to to the use of the fraudulent unfunded liability to deny injured
workers their due.
Kim Hoover, an ONIWG
activist, introduced the Chain of Shame, each of its links bearing the
name of an injured worker, their age and date of their injury. She
enumerated the cuts to injured workers' benefits by the WSIB, the
increased denial of claims and the shortening of the time period for
injured workers to attend retraining programs, and denounced David
Marshall and the WSIB for their brutality and callousness. She invited
anyone who has a name to add to the Chain of Shame to send it to
Jake Lombardo of the Local 1005 USW introduced the
fourth issue of Justice for Injured
Workers, which was hot off the press. Noting that the paper
reports on the situation injured workers face and their fight for their
dignity and their rights, he called on everyone to help finance the
paper and ensure its wide distribution as a way to end the
marginalization of injured workers. Lombardo also pointed out that
injured workers are a political force who have been active in opposing
the austerity agenda of the Liberals and Conservatives during elections
and that this work has to continue and be supported by everyone.
Dr. Robert Storey, a professor of Labour Studies at
McMaster University in Hamilton, reported on the work that he and Carol
Elston from the University of Guelph did in preparation for the
Meredith Conference recently held in Toronto. They interviewed
118 injured workers across Ontario, recording their issues and
concerns. Their report, entitled "People's Commission Report on
Workers' Compensation," will be coming out shortly.
Nancy Hutchison brought greetings on behalf of the
Ontario Federation of Labour and called on all the unions to get behind
the struggle of injured workers and their demands.
Minister of Labour Yasir Naqvi, who was invited to
speak. was extremely defensive in his short intervention, pointing out
that "governments are very slow and that they are slow for me." He said
the Wynne government is working more closely with injured workers and
their groups to improve outcomes for them, including addressing
anti-reprisal policies and claims suppression. In the face of the real
facts of life, few at the demonstration seemed convinced.
Responding to the Minister, Karl Crevar reminded all
that the workers' compensation system set up a hundred years ago by
Meredith was based on the premise that workers would give up their
right to sue their employers if they received just compensation for
their injuries at work. He pointed out that since 1990 this system has
been under attack by various governments and businesses and that
injured workers will continue to organize and demand that the Ontario
government and all governments do their duty to protect injured workers
and meet their demands for just compensation and a dignified life.
Lip Service -- A Poem
We don't want lip service --
We don't want your pity -- NO!
We don't need your "favors" -- NO!
Give us what is ours! (GIVE US WHAT IS OURS!)
Stop looking right through
Sitting high -- don't judge us -- NO!
Don't evaluate us -- NO!
Through the telephone line?
Enough, it's enough, it's
It's enough -- enough, it's enough, it's enough!
Injured Workers are onto
Break us down with your delays.
Then you say, it's all in the name
Of saying, you care -- (BOO!)
Let me tell you that we all
You change ministers like pantyhose.
It's time tax payers know
They're supporting your lies.
Shame on you,
All the stuff you put us through,
Who comes up with this shh...stuff?
Shame on you,
Getting paid not to do.
What? Give us what is ours!
(GIVE US WHAT IS OURS!)
We don't need no head games -- NO!
We don't want fake training -- NO!
No experience rating -- NO!
Give us what is ours! (GIVE US WHAT IS OURS!)
We don't need more stresses
You know our bodies can't take it -- NO!
No financial torture -- NO!
Give us what is ours! (GIVE US WHAT IS OURS!)
No lip service, no lip
Enough, it's enough, it's enough, it's enough.
Shame on you,
All the shit you put us through -- shame on you,
Getting paid not to do.
Informative and Lively New Issue of
Justice for Injured Workers
The fourth edition of Justice for Injured Workers
has just been
released. People are encouraged to order their papers today and
in their workplaces, to friends and relatives and in their communities
everyone is informed about the just demands of injured workers for
Disseminating the paper contributes to ending the
injured workers and the attacks on their rights. Injured workers
face an attack on their rights, from the denial and suppression of
claims to cuts
to benefits through the WSIB. It is a shameful situation that leaves
injured workers living in poverty.
Any worker could be injured on the job. The fight of
injured workers is
everyone's fight and also contributes to affirming the rights of the
generation of workers. It is epitomized in the slogan "Our Security
Lies in the
Fight for the Rights of All."
In this issue, as always, Ontario injured workers and
their allies are eager
to inform about the important work they are doing. First and foremost,
includes the firm conviction that their right as injured workers to
compensation must be recognized. Justice for Injured Workers
informs about the need to oppose the wrecking of the workers'
system by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) and the
provincial government. Those in charge of the WSIB are transforming the
from one that should provide just compensation that ensures injured
workers' well-being, to a private insurance model based on suppression
of claims and cutting
of benefits to reduce "costs." There is coverage of the annual Injured
Day at the provincial Legislature on June 1, a tradition which has now
to BC. This issue also covers the international Meredith Conference
this fall in Toronto. The conference underscored the historic
principles of the
workers' compensation system and the need to see them upheld today.
Also featured is an interview with Michele McSweeney, the new President
of the Ontario Network of Injured Workers. She emphasizes the need for
injured workers to be proactive in opposing the agenda of the WSIB to
cut benefits and suppress claims and calls on everyone to support this
just fight. Karl Crevar, a long-time activist for the rights of injured
workers, gives an interview in which he exposes the phony nature of the
WSIB's "unfunded liability," a bookkeeping fraud used to fabricate a
financial crisis to justify cuts to injured workers' benefits. He
points out, "There is no such crisis. If the government stood their
ground and demanded that the employers pay for the funding of the
system, as they were supposed to, we would not be talking about an
unfunded liability." Every
page of Justice for Injured Workers is packed with the many
actions of injured workers, making it clear that injured workers are
parcel of all the important political struggles taking place in Ontario.
TML salutes the steadfast and fighting spirit
of the injured
workers and their fight for rights, as shown in Justice for
Workers. This work gives great honour to the working people and
in the face of those who run the WSIB, who hold the unacceptable view
injured workers should accept being cast as victims and simply be
grateful for whatever handouts they are
Copies of the paper can be ordered by contacting
President of the Ontario
Network of Injured Workers Michele McSweeney at 905-577-3362 or by
e-mail at email@example.com.
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