Where does one start with the Harper government? Every day there’s a new horror story coming out of Ottawa about what’s in the government’s new 425 page budget document.
Let’s see. Today Labour Minister Lisa Raitt announced that the federal government was getting rid of the “Fair Wage and Hours of Work Act”, a law that requires companies bidding on federal contracts to pay the prevailing wage rate.
This law has been on the books for decades and it means that a bidder can’t lowball others by paying shit wages.
Raitt calls this law “unnecessary red tape for employers”. Raitt is very concerned about employers. She’s just not particularly concerned about the employed.
Raitt’s been busy bashing workers this week. She just finished railroading the railway workers.
Canadian Pacific Railway didn’t bother to negotiate with it’s employees. They knew they didn’t have to because Lisa Raitt would rescue them with back to work legislation. Oh, by the way the CPR’s first quarter profits were up 318% this year. Someone’s friends are doing alright.
“Yeah but the contract will be settled peacefully at arbitration” you say? It depends on who the arbitrator is.
In the case of Canada Post, the workers staged a series of rotating strikes last summer. Hardly anyone even noticed them. Who gives a shit about getting their phone bill late anyway? Unless maybe you’re the phone company.
So Canada Post management shut the whole mail system down and locked out all of the workers. Raitt came to the rescue of the head honchos at Canada Post and as is her practice, she railroaded postal workers back to work.
Not only that, just to rub salt in the wound they imposed a wage settlement that was even lower than what Canada Post management was offering.
The rest of the issues were sent to arbitration. But as they say, it all depends on who the arbitrator is.
The first arbitrator the reformatories appointed was a unilingual anglophone judge with no labour relations background. He did the honourable thing and resigned.
Then came the second arbitrator. The new arbitrator was a losing Tory candidate in Quebec and previously worked for Canada Post management defending them against a multimillion dollar equal pay complaint filed by the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) which represents office and clerical workers.
So it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that this arbitrator might just be a teensy weensy bit biased. CUPW has taken this second arbitration appointment to court as well. We’ll see what happens.
By the way, although the Supreme Court of Canada ordered Canada Post back in November to pay up on pay equity for mainly female clerical workers, it’s now June and they still haven’t paid out a red cent.
Anyone know of a good collection agency? Preferably a really mean and nasty one!
In other news, GM announced this week that they will be giving 2,000 workers in Oshawa the axe.
That’s after an injection of $8,000,000,000 (it’s good to see all those zeros so you can see just how big a number that is) from federal and Ontario provincial taxpayers. Where is Crackers the Corporate Crime Fighting Chicken these days?
And speaking of unemployment, of course there’s the new Reformatory harassment programme against EI recipients where they’ll force already low wage workers to take minimum wage jobs or else have their benefits cut off.
Then (as mentioned earlier on Class Rage) if you want to appeal an EI decision good luck at the new Social Security Tribunal.
If you’re looking for work you’ll have to compete with the Reformatories new “Temporary Foreign Worker” programme where they’ll allow folks to be paid up to 15% less than the prevailing Canadian wage. This is probably the most fucked up, exploitive and racist thing a Canadian federal government has done since they locked up Japanese Canadians during the Second World War.
Fed up? Want to retire? If you were born after February 1, 1962 you’re going to have to work two extra years at your shitty job before you’ll be able to get your Old Age Security Pension.
Did I miss anything? Like gutting environmental monitoring, food inspection, spying on internet users, handing the net over to corporate copyright moguls?
Casseroles anyone? See you on Wednesday!