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Have a heart Mr. Harper, stop attacking the unemployed, say labour federation presidents
The Presidents of the four Federations of Labour in Atlantic Canada are condemning changes by the Harper government to the country’s Employment Insurance program, saying the changes are about creating a pool of cheap labour and suppressing the wages of all Canadians.
They are calling on the government to “scrap the changes” and halt its campaign to “demonize and vilify” the unemployed.
The government’s demonizing of the unemployed, blaming them for being tossed on the unemployment line, is merely an attempt to divert attention from what’s really driving the EI reforms introduced in Budget 2012 and implemented January 2013, said the Presidents of the four labour federations.
“The Harper changes are about catering to a lowâ€wage dependency. Like the changes to the temporary foreign worker program that allow employers to pay migrant workers 15% less than prevailing wage rates, the EI rules force unemployed workers to take jobs outside their skill range and for 30% less than their regular pay. This does not make for good labour market policy and it’s not good economic policy either,” said Lana Payne, President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour. “These rules will have a chilling impact on the wages for all Canadians,” she noted.
The labour leaders say the rules will not just hurt workers, but will also have an impact on many businesses throughout the Atlantic region who are seasonal in nature or who experience peaks and lulls in production and who are dependent on available local workers. This is not just true of the Atlantic region. These are realities confronting workers and businesses right across Canada from assembly plant workers and educational assistants to hotel workers and store clerks.
“We need all Canadians to be working in jobs they have been trained to do, not being forced to take lowâ€paid jobs as the new EI rules dictate. This will adversely impact Canada’s labour productivity. The purpose of Employment Insurance – in addition to serving as a safety net for Canadian workers and their families – is to allow for better job market matches, not faster job market matches,” said Rick Clarke, President of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour.
Michel Boudreau, President of the New Brunswick Federation of Labour, said workers will continue to demand better from the Harper government. “We will continue to fight these changes. We have only begun our campaign to get these changes scrapped. Employment Insurance is our program. It is paid for by workers and employers. These changes ignore the reality of the job market in New Brunswick. We have 10 unemployed workers for every job vacancy. Not everyone can move or commute to Alberta to work. We have families, we have communities. This is a not a solution, it is a penalty,” said Mr. Boudreau.
Workers from Prince Edward Island, said Federation President Carl Pursey, are worried about what these changes will mean for them. “They are worried they are going to be left out in the cold. Businesses are worried also. Worried the EI changes will hurt their ability to recruit workers.”
The labour leaders agree that the changes do little to support the labour market realities of the country and Canada’s diverse economy.
They say the federal government must scrap the changes and instead consult with labour and workers about real reforms to Employment Insurance that reflect the realities of Canada’s job market and economy and Canada’s unemployed.
Published by: Newfoundland and Labrador Lana Payne, President Federation of Labour Gus Doyle, First Vice-President Bert Blundon,Secretary-Treasurer 330 Portugal Cove Place, NAPE Bldg., 2nd Floor P.O. Box 8597 St John's, NL A1B 3P2 Telephone: 709 754 1660 Fax: 709 754 1220 www.nlfl.nf.ca
Don't let California increase dangerous fumigant use in our strawberry fields
Last spring the UFW and their partners at PANNA and other environmental groups won a tremendous victory in keeping the cancer-causing fumigant methyl iodide out of California's strawberry fields. That dangerous chemical has now been pulled from the entire U.S. market and we are all a little safer.
However, this might not continue. Instead of investing fully in moving towards safe strawberry fields, some decision makers have caved to industry pressure by petitioning to create more loopholes to allow the use of methyl iodide's banned predecessor, methyl bromide.
Methyl bromide has been banned globally for good reason. It is an ozone-depleting chemical and developmental toxicant. Farmers all over the world have figured out how to farm without either methyl bromide or methyl iodide. Surely, with a little persistence and support, California farmers can too.
These exemptions are unnecessary and undermine the progress our state has just begun to make in transitioning off of fumigant pesticides.
Hold officials accountable to the promise of safe strawberry fields in California. Join us in urging California EPA head Matt Rodriguez to affirm his commitment to end fumigant pesticide use by 2020 in California, and to create a plan that supports farmers' efforts to do so.
Sign the petition at: http://action.ufw.org/castrawberries
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