Friday, January 26, 2007

Conservative Labour Policy

This is scary.....what changes could the Conservatives be contemplating making to Canada's Federal Labour laws.... Federal Labour Standards Review, certainly none to benefit workers or unions.....not when you meet with these folks....

Canada's labour minister admits there is no short term solution to the ongoing labour crunch plaguing Alberta. Jean Pierre Blackburn spoke in Calgary Tuesday at the Chamber of Commerce, and also met with West Jet employees.
The primary purpose of Blackburn's trip to western Canada has been to discuss an aged labour code, and recommendations for the future.
But being in Calgary, naturally the conversation turned to the urgent need for skilled workers in many fields. Blackburn says its a problem with no short term solution. "It's not possible to help that right away. This is a new reality we face."
Like the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, WestJet is notoriously anti-union, typical of an Alberta company. West Jet employees are called 'owners' like Wal-Mart empoyees are called 'associates'. As if they were not mere wage slaves.

And what kind of changes might the Tories be planning, well with Monte Solberg in charge we are looking at increased reliance on temporary foreign workers, and increased pressure to eliminate mandatory retirement for older workers.

Labour shortage spurs Ottawa to ask boomers to work past 65

The federal government is pleading with aging baby boomers to work past retirement to offset a serious labour shortage in Canada.

"We need them," Human Resources Minister Monte Solberg told the Toronto Star yesterday after announcing a special panel to study labour market conditions affecting older workers.

Solberg described Canada's labour shortage as "extraordinarily serious," particularly in certain provinces, such as Alberta and Saskatchewan.

And longer working hours, having to hold two jobs, and make ends meet are becoming the norm across Canada,

Alberta workers - particularly men - are carrying the bulk of the labour burden in Canada, with its residents spending an average of 36 hours a week clocked in on the job.

The latest study released by Statistics Canada explains that in 2004, employees in Central Canada were the hardest working in the country, with Manitoba-Saskatchewan employees coming in just shy of Alberta's numbers.

Men, however, were responsible for the most hours in the workplace for 2004, with prairie men working an average of 2,080 hours a year - a full-time 40 hours every week.

An average Ontario work-week is nearly 36 hours long and the prairie provinces' week follows at about 35-and-a-half hours long.

The report said that the phenomenon is groundbreaking.

"While differences in working hours between Canada and other nations have generated a substantial body of research, this study shows that working hours can also vary quite widely within a country."

A factory worker in Ontario toils almost two weeks more per year than a bureaucrat, and six weeks more than a teacher.

A farm worker in Alberta labours almost three months longer than his cousin on a farm in Ontario and an oil and gas labourer puts in two weeks more a year in Calgary than in Sarnia.

Those figures are among the details contained a new study from Statistics Canada yesterday that traces how long the average worker is on the job across Canada.

Analysts such as economist Erin Weir, of the Canadian Labour Congress, says the survey points to an imbalance in the lives of workers.

"We need to bargain a better distribution between work and leisure," he said in an interview yesterday. "Every province has lots of people working more hours than they'd like, and lots working less than they need and we need to do something about that."

And of course Alberta home to Solberg and the Tories, the most anti-union province in Canada leads the way when it comes to hours worked.

In Alberta the labour laws permit not a forty hour week but a forty four hour week, without having to pay overtime.

Statistics Canada economist Sebastien LaRochelle-Cote says that is because Alberta has the largest proportion of people who worked a “long year,” which the agency defines as more than 2,300 hours a year. That’s the equivalent of 44 hours a week.

About 12% of workers in Alberta worked more than 2,300 hours a year, or 44 hours a week. Almost 6.5% clock in for more than 2,700 hours a year, or 51 hours a week.

Those numbers make Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, somewhat uneasy.

“This is one area where Albertans should really not be proud of being number one,” he said. “People are working long hours and they are working tired. Many workers are actually paying with their bodies and in some cases with their lives.”

The number of fatalities and workplace injuries across the province hit record highs last year with 143 deaths as well as tens of thousands of injuries, he said.

And the Fraser Institute agrees this is the Alberta Advantage, poor labour laws and low unionization rates.

 The Provincial Investment Climate Index objectively evaluates the public
policies that create and sustain a positive investment climate. It ranks each
province on a scale of one to 10.

Alberta earned the highest score, 8.9 out of 10, and was clearly Canada's
top province for policies that encourage and sustain a positive investment

  Labour market regulation

Labour market regulation is assessed using differences in labour-
relations laws in Canada. Alberta earned 6.0 out of 10 and was the only
province to receive a score of 5.0 or higher. Saskatchewan received the lowest
score of 1.8. "Again, the low scores of all provinces show the need for reforms to
provincial labour market regulations," Clemens said.

And this is why Bouchard and his new right alliance in Quebec bash their workers for having too much leisure time.

In October, Mr. Bouchard faced a wave of criticism after he told French TVA Network that if Quebecers stay on their current low-productivity track they will face a difficult economic future.

“We need to work more. We don’t work enough. We work less than Ontarians and infinitely less than the Americans,” he said during the interview.

Back in the Sixties sociologists bemoaned the coming of the Leisure Class, how the working class was no longer blue collar underpaid workers, but now a new economic class of wage slave consumers called the middle class. It was all part of the great American melting pot; we are all one class.

Back then the future crisis was predicted as being about how much leisure time we would have and what would we ever do with it.

Well now we know, the future is now, and its still the same old "I owe, I owe, it's off to work I go".






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