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Another Precarious Labour Year

Basic Standards for Workers Still the Issue for May Day

by Geordie Gwalgen Dent

Another Precarious Labour Year
Another Precarious Labour Year

One year ago, thousands of workers and Torontonians took to the streets decrying the death of thousands of garment workers in Bangladesh, strike-breaking tactics by Porter Airlines and the fight for better worker rights in Ontario.

One year on, safe and good paying work remains under attack while workers still struggle for better rights.

Porter and Bangladesh

After a disastrous anti-union campaign that blew up their faces on several occasions, Porter and the union eventually reached a collective agreement ending the strike by their workers.

Meanwhile, many large corporations have been stalling reforms in Bangladesh refusing to pay compensation for workers while refusing to sign onto agreements to improve conditions in garment factories for workers.

Temporary Foreign Worker Program

The TFWP has come under major attack in 2014 after allegations of abuse against foreign workers by dodgy employers and the revelation that many employers were abusing the program to pay lower wages than normally.

In the wake of the scandal, the government (who apparently, gets it from a business perspective) placed a moratorium on the program for fast food workers.  Others have been quick to use the issue to their advantage by either whipping up discontent by pitting workers against each other, veiled racism against migrants or trying to claim that the restaurant industry is now in peril.  Migrant workers - who face abuse, exorbitant recruitment fees, safety concerns and low wages - have had few fighting for their rights.  

Layoffs Via Budget Cuts

Though the Temporary Foreign Worker situation has largely driven the debate on the lack of jobs in Canada, the reality is that the collapse of the manufacturing sector in Canada due to the financial crisis and the low Canadian Dollar is far more to blame for job losses.

Even more important than their commitment to float the dollar, the Federal governments decision to cut 46,000 jobs via budget cuts is far more significant n the economy.

CLC Presidency

For the first time in almost a decade, Ken Georgetti is facing a challenge in the CLC from Hassan Husseini, who is trying to cultivate grassroots support and Hassan Yussuff, who is endorsed by the Unifor executive.  

Georgetti's leadership has been criticized by some prominent union officials including Exec Vice President Marie Clarke-Walker, who lambasted Georgetti accusing him of excluding her from events and meetings.


Interns have come under increasing attack from Ontario's Ministry of Labour targeting Toronto Councillors, independent magazines and the Beer Store.

While many companies have cried foul, lamenting their lack of free labour, some attention was paid to folks working so hard that they ended up dying and conditions of workers in general.

Worker Safety

Though hardly discussed, worker safety is still an issue in Canada.  Though 92 percent of deaths are preventable according to the CLC, workers compensation data show that almost 3 workers are dying a day in Canada (997) though the number is likely much higher due to under-reported or unrecognized deaths not recognized by workers compensation data.

Mayday begins at 5:30pm in Toronto this year at Allen Gardens in downtown Toronto.


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Topics: Labour

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