Monday, May 31, 2010

The world is full of scams. One only has to look at American religious TV to get examples that are so blatant that it's a wonder anybody falls for them. But most people aren't theologians. Neither are they nutritionists. The oft-quoted figure that 95% of "diets" are either ineffective or harmful is actually a "success" rate that equals the best legitimate medical diagnoses. People keep buying nonetheless. Hope springs eternal and bottomless money pits remain bottomless. One of the multitude of scams is that of bottled water, and this scam has the cachet of ersatz elitism attached to it. There are literally restaurants that offer a "selection of waters" like others offer a wine selection. Somehow the various waters are supposed to "taste different" or have some magical health benefit. Homeopathy in drag ??
Most of the bottled water on the market is actually simply tap water from somewhere else, but the very process of bottling it, storing it and shipping it elsewhere adds risks other than that to your pocket book. Here's an interesting article from the Montreal Gazette about just one of the problems, the bacteriological content of bottled waters. Now, applying that highly complex, ultra-high tech sensitive instrument known as common sense, this stands to reason. What can water shipped across a continent and stored on shelves be other than stale water, and the staler the water the more bugs it will have. It's nice, however, to see common sense verified by scientific studies. Here's the article.
Bottled water worse than tap: lab
Very high bacteria count; Some brands had levels 400 times higher
By ALLISON CROSS, Canwest News Service May 26, 2010
Canadian researchers say they've discovered some bottled water in Canada contains more bacteria than what comes out of the tap - although they won't reveal which brands are the culprits.

Researchers from C-crest Laboratories in Montreal bought and tested several popular brands of bottled water, and found many of them had heterotrophic bacteria counts that were "surprisingly high."

Heterotrophic bacteria require an organic carbon source in order to grow.

More than 70 per cent of popular brands they tested did not meet the standards set out by the United States Pharmacopeia, a non-governmental agency that sets safety standards for medications and health-care products.

No more than 500 colony-forming units (cfu) of bacteria per millimetre should be present in drinking water, according to the USP.

"Heterotrophic bacteria counts in some of the bottles were found to be in revolting figures of (100) times more than the permitted limit," said Sonish Azam, a researcher on the study, in a news release. Some brands had as much as 70,000 cfu per millilitre - or 400 times higher than tap water - Azam said.

The average number of colony-forming units in tap water samples they tested in order to compare results was 170 per millimetre, she said.

"Despite having the cleanest tap water, a large number of urban Canadians are switching over to bottled water for their daily hydration requirements," Azam said. "The consumer assumes that since bottled water carries a price tag, it is purer and safer than most tap water."

This kind of bacteria doesn't normally cause any disease in healthy people, but could make pregnant women, infants and the elderly sick, she said.

Although researchers didn't actually find any pathogens - or germs - in the bottled water, they said the high bacteria counts mean Canadian regulations should be stricter, just in case.

According to Azam, Health Canada hasn't set an allowable limit for heterotrophic bacteria in bottled water, and neither has the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Their intention is to change Canadian regulations, said researcher Ali Khamessan, and not point the finger at specific companies.

Health Canada points out that bottled water is already regulated under the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations. "Under these regulations, bottled water is required to be free of disease-causing organisms. Like most foods, bottled water may contain naturally occurring bacteria which typically have little or no health significance," it said in a statement.

It contends that a recent World Health Organization study concluded "heterotrophic bacteria counts in drinking water are not a health concern to the general public."

Researchers presented their results yesterday at the general meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in San Diego.

Read more:

While anarchists have often run farce candidates in various elections there are others who have done the same. The most famous Canadian examples were the Rhinoceros Party and the Workless Party, and in Britain the Raving Monster Looney Party had its day in the sun. The basic idea is to mock the regular political parties when all seem to be merely different sides of a disgusting mess. As such farce candidates offer a place to put "protest votes", something akin to a none-of-the-above option.
What happens, however, when the farce party actually wins. In Iceland people are particularly disillusioned with their political parties, and the 'Best Party' (Besti flokkurinn in Icelandic) was formed in 2009 by Jón Gnarr, a famous Icelandic comedian. From the beginning it promised to not honour its promises which included free towels in city swimming pools, a polar bear for the city zoo and a Disneyland at Vatsmyri, the airport of Reykjavik the country's capital. Armed with a quiver full of satire the Best Party went forth to battle the hated Icelandic politicians in the recent municipal elections.
As the polls trickled in, however, it became more and more clear that the Best Party might actually win. Shocked by this horrendous development party members scrambled to throw together an actual platform that was serious rather than farcical. You can read it at the Wikipedia entry on the Best Party. What was predicted came to pass. In Reykjavik the Best Party won the largest number of seats on the City Council (6 out of 15), and the jokers are confronted with the unenviable situation of actually being taken seriously. No worse fate could befall any comedian. The world waits with bated breath to see what jesters in power can do. Here's a brief news item about the event from the Reykjavik Grapevine.
Final Results from City Elections
by Paul Nikolov
The final results of Reykjavík city elections are in. Of a possible 15 seats on city council, Jón Gnarr's Best Party has won six, the Independence Party won five, the Social Democrats won three, and the Leftist-Greens won one.

There was only a difference of 660 votes between the conservatives and Best Party, but this gave the latter the edge to get an extra man in. At the moment, the Best Party is currently in a meeting to decide what the next step is going to be.

Former mayor Hanna Birna Kristjándóttir was more than happy to point out the victories her party made in well-established conservative strongholds throughout the country, although the party took its shares of damages as well, such as in Reykjavík. The Social Democrats also got hit pretty hard, nationally speaking. The Leftist-Greens more or less held onto their own, but lost a seat in the capital. The Progressives fared worst of all in the capital area, only managing to get one of theirs in town council in Kópavogur and Álftanes.

Gnarr isn't yet giving away who he intends to form a majority coalition with, but has said he's willing to work with everybody. Social Democrat Dagur B. Eggertsson said that it would be a long shot working with the Independence Party, and Hanna Birna said that while her party could conceivably form a coalition with the Social Dems to form a majority, that wouldn't necessarily be in harmony with the will of the voters.

Talks on forming a majority, or an announcement of what form that majority will take, are still pending.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

BP'S PLAN C ?????

The 11 workers who died during the explosion that started the largest oil spill ever seen in the world are unlikely to be the only victims. Clean-up workers on the Gulf Coast are reporting an increasing number of illnesses caused by their exposure to the oil washing up on the beaches. There is now a Facebook group dedicated to pressuring for proper safety procedures for the workers involved in the cleanup. It also has a wealth of information from previous similar accidents. See 'Support Health and Safety protections for Gulf Oil Spill Clean-up'. Meanwhile here's a short article on what is happening from the US magazine 'In These Times'.
Oil Spill Clean-up Workers: We’re Getting Sick From Lack of Protective Gear
By Lindsay Beyerstein

Some fishermen hired by BP to clean up spill oil say they've become ill after being exposed to oil and dispersant without proper personal protective equipment.

Several south Louisiana fishermen working on the cleanup told the LA Times that they had developed headaches, coughing, nausea, and other symptoms. The workers said they'd been working without facemasks or gloves.

BP spokesman Graham McEwen told the Times that he was not aware that any workers were getting sick.

Yesterday, 125 fishing boats working off Breton Sound in Louisiana were called off the job after workers on three separate boats reported nausea, chest pain, and other symptoms. One worker had to be evacuated by air ambulance and two others were driven to hospital, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-La.) wants the Department of Health and Human Services to set up mobile clinics for clean-up workers and send the bill to BP. Melancon outlined the proposal in a letter to Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. As Melancon explained in the May 19 letter, workers are being exposed to hazardous materials on a daily basis and many are hours away from the nearest clinic.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


Last Thursday, May 27, tens of thousands of workers struck and took to the street in response to a call from the major labour unions to oppose the proposed pension "reforms" that would raise the retirement age in France from 60 to 62 years. While large the demonstrations and the response of workers to the strike call was decidedly smaller than expected by the unions and perhaps suggests disillusionment with the endless rounds of "half-strikes" and street marches that the major unions have relied on in their continued disputes with the conservative Sarkozy government.
It might also suggest that efforts to convince the population of the "necessity" of reduction in government benefits are bearing fruit in the atmosphere of the fiscal crisis of much of southern Europe. The drive to reduce pension benefits, however, predates the present crisis and is an ongoing campaign by governments across the world to roll back pension benefits while maintaining or increasing give-aways to corporate business. With the demise of the pseudo-alternative of the state-communist countries the ruling managerial class has long seen its way open to "rationalize" the system of social support in various ways, and one of these is the reduction of pension benefits, especially by raising the age of retirement. they are aided in this by the fact that most social democratic parties worldwide have abandoned all but the slightest pretence to a "class perspective" in their policies. Either trendy leftism such as "greenishness" or self-promotion as "better managers" has become their raison d'etre. The present fiscal crisis is merely an opportunity for long term plans to be accelerated, not some unique crisis.
It should also be noted that the raising of the age of eligible retirement is a worldwide phenomenon that happens whether a state is in a deficit position or not. In Europe Germany will bring in a retirement age of 67 next year. The trend to raising the age of retirement extends across Europe and way beyond. Retirement ages are increasing outside of Europe in places such as Australia, India, Singapore and South Korea amongst many others. It should also be noted that while a retirement age of 60 (in France) may seem generous by North American standards that there are countries such as China where the age is 60 for males and 55 for females. Appeals to "competitiveness" hardly hold water when you look at the numbers in an international context.
The attack on pension benefits in France has to be seen in the context of the worldwide tendency of government managers to shift income from the working and other lower classes to the ruling classes. They do this in the context of assurance that they have no serious consequences to face beyond possible disorder ie there is presently no widely accepted "alternative" to their rule outside of South America and its neo-caudillos. The so-called fiscal "crisis" that much of Europe faces today is, from the point of view of its managers more an "opportunity" than a crisis. Watch carefully. If France's retirement age goes from 60 to 62 it will become 65 a few years after.
Meanwhile Canada's age will creep up from 65 to 67 to 69 and finally to 70. If you are so unlucky as to have health problems come upon you before then, well tough shit. The hope of government managers is that you die before you can collect a penny.
It will be a long hard slog before a popular alternative to such policies will be built, but doubtless the anarchist movement - in more realistic aspects - will be a major force in the formulation of such a thing. Until then defensive struggles to fight back against the plans of the managers have their place, but perhaps the French are right in their lack of faith in the traditional ways of doing this.
Here's an item from the Globe and Mail about the recent "semi-strike" in France.
French workers hit the streets
Paris — Reuters
Published on Thursday, May. 27, 2010 9:56AM EDT

Last updated on Thursday, May. 27, 2010 6:34PM EDT

Tens of thousands of workers took to the streets in cities across France on Thursday to protest against government plans to raise the minimum retirement age of 60 as part of a reform of the costly pension system.

Trade union leaders said the marches were the first step in a long struggle to defend the retirement age, a trademark reform of the late Socialist President Francois Mitterrand, against the current government which says it has no alternative.

Transport was working almost normally and between 10 and 20 per cent of public service workers went on strike in schools, the post office and France Telecom. A poll for the Le Parisien daily said 62 per cent of those responding were ready to demonstrate.

One of the earliest marches, in Marseille, drew a larger turnout than a previous protest day in March. Unions estimated the crowd at 80,000 while police gave a figure of 12,000.

Estimates for the Paris march were due later on Thursday.

“Only a show of force on the streets can defend the 60-year retirement age and the social achievements that [President] Nicolas Sarkozy is methodically attacking,” Bernard Thibault, secretary general of the powerful CGT union, said.

Labour Minister Eric Woerth said on Wednesday that the current retirement age was “not dogma” and Budget Minister Francois Baroin said on Thursday a pension reform bill would be debated in parliament after the summer break.

“There are basically no other measures on the table that are convincing,” Mr. Woerth told reporters.

Mr. Sarkozy added a partisan sting to the debate on Wednesday by saying, to loud protests from the opposition Socialists, that France would have “much fewer problems” if Mr. Mitterrand had not lowered the retirement age in 1983.

According to a report last month by the government-appointed Pensions Advisory Council, France’s pension system faces a funding gap of around €70-billion ($86-billion U.S.) in 2030 and that could balloon to more than €100-billion by 2050.

Like other countries in the euro zone, France is struggling to bring its swollen public deficit under control. It has announced a freeze on central government spending over the next three years but has ruled out tax increases.

According to French media reports, the government is considering increasing the retirement age to 62 or 63 years and extending the period during which contributions have to be paid to 42 years from the current level of 40.5 years by 2030.

However, President Nicolas Sarkozy’s office said that no decisions had been taken as yet.

Mr. Sarkozy has singled out an overhaul of the pension system as his government’s key reform project this year but his plans already have aroused strong opposition from unions.

The CGT’s Thibault said further protests could come before the summer break. CFDT union leader Francois Chereque said: “Things will happen over time. One protest will not suffice.”

There have been expectations for several months that a rise in the retirement age would be part of the planned reform but French media have focused closely on the issue in recent days.

The transport chaos that often accompanies strikes in France was mostly absent on Thursday, partly because the reform plan would not touch costly special pension schemes for transport workers, a powerful sector that brought an earlier conservative government to its knees in 1995 when it tried to reform them.

“The government’s plan is not the toughest that could be, despite what the banners will say,” the business daily Les Echos wrote in an editorial.

Friday, May 28, 2010



Today Apple launched its I-Pad in Canada, Great Britain and 7 other countries. Much as I might have liked to miss the news of people lining up overnight at stores to be the first kid on the block to own the new toy it was inescapable on the radio as I drove around from place to place during work. Now I have to admit that my first impulse was, "what the hell use could this thing have" given the ever-expanding glut of electronic gadgets on the market.

This little item, however, has a more serious and darker side beyond frivolity, and this is connected to yet another news story that I heard a few days ago. Over in Longua in China the Foxconn Company has what may perhaps be the most bizarre demand that an employer has ever made of their workers. Before obtaining employment at their plant Foxconn demands that potential workers sign a "no-suicide" promise saying that they will not kill themselves while working for the company. The reason is that suicide has become quite an epidemic in Longua and Foxconn's other plant in Shenzhen. Since January 10 workers, driven to the wall by brutal working (and living-they live 12 to a room in company dormitories) have taken a do-it-yourself pink slip by killing themselves. Foxconn has responded by a number of steps, similar to the way management across the world blames the worker rather than the conditions. Some are, however, rather unique...'hiring monks to teach the workers to meditate' and literally "installing nets around dormitories to catch jumpers". Much more on what is happening there can be seen in this article from the respected business magazine Forbes, hardly a hotbed of raving leftist radicals.

Now the plot thickens. Foxconn is the source for a number of products for electronics giants such as Sony, Dell, Nokia, Nintendo, Ericsson, Motorola and Hewitt Packard. And, of course, Apple. The trendy I-Pad's seamy underbelly is the brutal working conditions endured by Foxconn employees. Think about that as you line up for the latest in thing.

Some are trying to do something about this. Here's a item from the Maquila Solidarity Network asking for your support for the Foxconn workers. Sign up with your new I-Pad if you have to.
How many more workers have to die at this Ipad factory before Apple takes action?‏

As consumers rush to get their hands on a new iPad, Apple Inc.’s latest gadget, which officially hit Canadian stores today, Asian civil society organizations are protesting Foxconn, the world’s leading electronics manufacturer and one of Apple’s major suppliers, for its deplorable labour practices which have been linked to 12 worker suicides at one of its Chinese plants this year alone.

The workers have complained of extremely low wages, excessive overtime, extreme productivity targets and a particularly harsh and isolating management system.

Please take a minute to support the Foxconn workers by clicking here now

Foxconn blames the workers

Foxconn has responded by setting up nets around the factories dormitories and buildings, bringing in mental health experts, and asking workers to contractually agree not to commit suicide and to report colleagues who appear to be undergoing distress. Unfortunately, this ‘blame the victim’ approach treats the suicides as an individualized problem of the workers themselves and de-emphasizes the role that workplace practices played in the deaths.

International brands need to take responsibility

As Apple launches its 4th generation iPhone on June 8, Asian labour rights groups are calling for this date to become a Global Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Foxconn. They are demanding that Foxconn shut down production for a month (with full pay) in order to thoroughly investigate the underlying systemic workplace issues and management systems linked to the suicides. They are also asking Foxconn to facilitate the establishment of democratic worker organizations in the factory, so that workers can overcome their isolation and bring problems to management’s attention in a collective manner.

In order to pressure the company, Asian civil society groups are calling on consumers to boycott the products made by Foxconn, including iPhones, and iPads, throughout the month of June.

International electronics brands that source from Foxconn, including Apple Inc, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Nokia, and Motorola, must also be pressured to take responsibility for investigating any labour abuses occurring in their supply chains.

Take action now

Take action now by clicking here

to sign a petition initiated by Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM), a leading Asian labour rights organization, in support of Foxconn workers and to demand that the causes of these tragic deaths are investigated and addressed.

Maquila Solidarity Network
606 Shaw St.
Toronto, ON M6G 3L6
416 532-8584
Please go to this link to sign a petition in support of the Foxconn workers and also to learn more about the International day of Remembrance on June 8 for the victims of Foxconn. Also, for another take on what lays behind our cheap electronics go to this article from la Revue Gauche out of Edmonton.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


School support workers in New Brunswick have started a hunger strike in support of a new collective agreement with the province. Here's the story from
Hunger strike begun in N.B. for new collective agreement
By The Canadian Press
FREDERICTON -- Union officials for school support staff in New Brunswick have begun a week-long hunger strike as they push for a new collective agreement with the province.

Nine people from a CUPE local were camped out Monday in a recreational vehicle outside the Fredericton Inn and vowed to not eat for five days.

Local president Sandy Harding said they're looking for fairness and respect from the province.

She said the union, which includes teacher and library assistants, school intervention workers, district and school administrative support staff and student attendants, has several issues.

Harding said the average employee works 28 hours a week for an average salary of $17,000 a year.

She said most employees also don't have a defined benefits pension plan.

"We felt doing a hunger strike would show the seriousness of the situation, and what this team is willing to do to make the government take notice," said Harding, who was joined by the CUPE negotiating team on the hunger strike.

"We need a collective agreement and we need something that is fair."

The support staff have been without a contract for more than a year.
Here's more on this story from the St. John Telegraph Journal. Read more about this dispute from CUPE Local 2745 here.
Labour: School support staff trying to get the attention of provincial politicians
The president of New Brunswick's education support staff union says she's willing to go to drastic lengths to gain the attention of the provincial government.

Members of CUPE 2745 began a five-day hunger strike on Monday to bring attention to what they say is a lack of fairness and respect they receive from the province. Sandy Harding was joined Monday by CUPE Local 2745's eight-member negotiating team to kick off a five-day hunger strike.

She said the group will be camping out in a recreational vehicle in front of the Fredericton Inn, and is prepared to go without food until Friday.

"We are hungry for fairness and respect," Harding said. "We felt doing a hunger strike would show the seriousness of the situation, and what this team is willing to do to make the government take notice.

"We need a collective agreement, and we need something that is fair."

She said the union, which includes teacher and library assistants, school intervention workers, district and school administrative support staff and student attendants, has several issues with its contracts.

"The average number of hours we work is 28 per week, 39 weeks a year," she said. "Our average salary is $17,000 a year.

"We don't have a defined benefit pension plan for all members; only about 10 per cent of members are qualified to pay in."

Harding said she was pleased with the reaction of passing motorists, as union members held up signs and waved at Regent Street traffic.

"We've gotten a lot of public support," she said. "As people drive by, they're honking and they're stopping in. We're also collecting food for the food bank, and a lot of people have contributed. It's been going really well."

A.J. Savoie, a custodian with School District 6, said he isn't a CUPE 2745 member, but he supports the group's cause.

He joined picketers outside the Fredericton Inn on Monday afternoon, and said he was pleased to participate in the effort.

"These workers need full-time hours to be able to focus on students," Savoie said. "Teacher assistants and support staff are very important, and they should get the hours and fairness and respect that they deserve."

He said giving education support workers more hours would be beneficial for the province.

"We need more people to work within the province of New Brunswick because it helps everyone," he said. "When we have more people with full-time jobs, we have more people paying more taxes.

"We've got to fight for this. What's happening is not right."

Harding said the team was keeping hydrated and hunger hadn't started to set in Monday. She said the days ahead may be difficult, but it will be worthwhile if the hunger strike incites a response.

"We're confident we can go five days," she said. "Hopefully, it will get a reaction from the government when they see we're willing to go to these lengths to get a collective agreement. They know what the issues are with regard to our group. They need to step up to the plate and say they're willing to help with this."

She said union members who weren't directly involved in the hunger strike were supporting the initiative in other ways, such as fasting for a day or by collecting donations for food banks.

A spokesman for the Department of Human Resources said Friday he was unable to discuss any details as the matter is still on the table.

The following call to oppose the upcoming 'Cansec' arms fair in Ottawa comes from the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT). Those who profit by selling the mechanisms of deaths, the arms traders, may qualify as the lowest examples of human life on Earth. Look to following to see how you can help oppose them.

Oppose the CANSEC War Machine!‏

Learn more about CANSEC and join the campaign to oppose it.
CANSEC is Canada's largest and most important War-Industry Trade Show. It's coming to Ottawa next week. Wherever you may be, please join the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT) in opposing this blatant symbol of Canada's role in the burgeoning international arms trade.

For more info., see the list of weblinks at the end of this email to learn more about CANSEC and how you can help COAT to expose and oppose it!

Here is a media advisory that COAT released yesterday.

Rally for Peace – Oppose the CANSEC War Machine

Ottawa – Peace advocates, human rights groups and environmentalists, are gathering to denounce CANSEC 2010, our nation’s largest weapons trade show. CANSEC is a symbol of Canada’s commitment to the business of war and our role in the profitable, international arms trade.

Richard Sanders of the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade says, “CANSEC is a blatant manifestation of our country's part in fuelling major global conflicts through the sale and export of weapons systems and their components.”

This year's effort against CANSEC is the latest chapter in a struggle that began over two decades ago when the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT) campaigned against ARMX, a now-defunct arms bazaar. COAT's work against ARMX led the City of Ottawa to ban arms exhibitions on municipal property. CANSEC is returning to Lansdowne June 2 and 3, because last year City Council overturned this municipality's historic 20-year ban on weapons shows.

“This trade show is a symbol of Canadian government subsidization of an industry involved in producing and promoting weapons of destruction,” added City Councillor Alex Cullen, candidate for Mayor in the 2010 municipal election. “It graphically illustrates the part we play in aiding and abetting wars and human rights abuses.”

CANSEC exhibitors supply parts and services for many of the world’s deadliest weapons systems used in Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza and elsewhere around the world. Research by COAT names 60 CANSEC exhibitors supplying parts for weapons systems in Iraq. That war alone has killed 1.3 million since 2003. Diane Holmes, City of Ottawa Councillor says, “These weapons and weapons systems have caused destruction around the world. They have taken an immeasurable toll on the lives and livelihoods of innumerable innocent people, their families and their children.”

Peace groups, human rights and environmental groups, will hold a RALLY for PEACE on June 2, 2010 at Lansdowne Park on Bank Street, 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Politicians, citizens, poets and musicians will speak against profiting from war weapons, and for peace in the world.

For more information, media contact :
Richard Sanders, Coordinator, Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT) and Editor, Press for Conversion! magazine;
Tel: (613) 231-3076

Renseignements médias:
Hélène Lebrun, les Soeurs du Sacre-coeur de Jesus;
Tel: (613) 237-6607



Learn more about CANSEC and COAT's campaign

CANSEC is Canada's largest and most important War-Industry Trade Show.
Please join the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT) in opposing it.

Here is an annotated list of weblinks about CANSEC and how you can help expose and oppose it:

Summary Article: What is CANSEC, and why do we oppose it?

"CANSEC: War is Business" (50-page COAT publication. Get the nitty gritty)

"Rally for Peace," June 2, 5-7 pm, Ottawa
Includes a list of speakers, poets and musicians, and links to their websites.

Spread the word about COAT's "Rally for Peace"

Other antiCANSEC events: What to do in Ottawa on June 2, 2010

Decorate CANSEC's Fence: Submit graphics/statements online, or bring them yourself.

How you can help: Join the opposition to CANSEC, wherever you are!

CANSEC 2010 Exhibitors: Links to info about 275 exhibitors and their websites.

"Peace Bus" from Toronto to Ottawa, June 2: All aboard for the antiCANSEC rally

Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade website (for CANSEC updates and more)

Support COAT: Donate, subscribe, order "CANSEC: War is Business"

From an estimate of $179 million two months ago the costs of the upcoming G8/G20 summit in Ontario have now spiralled up to $1.1 billion dollars. One wonders how much further the bill will climb before all is said and done, and, of course, how much the federal Conservative government- true to form- will do to hide the actual bill.
This bill is for a three day event. For comparison security at the recent Vancouver Olympics (17 days) was $900 million. For further comparison last year's G20 summit in England cost a mere $20 million, and the G20 event in Italy cost $359 million. It says a lot that, just to provide the Harperites photo-ops and ego-boo, the Canadian government can waste three times as much money as the Italian ! government. Impressive.
Want to know what this sort of thing might look like in reality. I took out my handy dandy hand calculator and started to break in down by time units (giving allowance for the fact that the sums are so huge that "error" messages occur unless you take off three orders of magnitude). The cost is about $15 million per hour, about 255,000 per minute and $4,244 per second. Try the following experiment. Cut out sheets of paper to the same size as a currency bill. Stand in front of the toilet. See if you can toss more than four of these (representing a thousand dollar bill) into the toilet one at a time in less than one second. Bet you can't do it.
One wonders if there is any purpose whatsoever being served by such meetings of the ruling class besides offering an opportunity for protesters. Here's a further story from the CBC about this circus and its cost.
Summit costs hit $1.1B
The cost of hosting the G8 and G20 summits next month in Ontario now stands at $1.1 billion and further outlays are likely, federal documents show.

The price tag includes $160 million for hospitality, infrastructure, food safety and extra staffing. That amount is in addition to the $933-million security bill the Tories revealed earlier this week.

Protesters confront police in London in April 2009 as thousands of demonstrators converged on the centre of the city to protest against the G20 summit. (Owen Humphreys/Associated Press)
"This might be the most expensive 72 hours in Canadian history," Liberal MP Mark Holland said.

But Public Safety Minister Vic Toews defended the costs for security, saying Canada has an obligation to make sure world leaders are safe while visiting Toronto and Huntsville, Ont.

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff blamed the Conservative government's "poor management" for the ballooning cost estimates.

Ignatieff said Wednesday that Canadians can't understand how the government's initial earmarking of $179 million for security has multiplied in the space of a couple months.

Security costs at previous summits

•G8 summit Japan, October 2008: $381 million
•G8 summit Gleneagles, Scotland, July 2005: $110 million
•G20 summit London, April 2009: $30 million
•G20 summit Pittsburgh, September 2009: $18 million US
"These numbers are off the scale with other G8s and G20s," Ignatieff told reporters outside his party's weekly caucus meeting in Ottawa.

"We're three weeks away from the event where Canada will be on the world stage, and I want to be proud of Canada. For now, I'm embarrassed."

Not a cost overrun: Toews
In an interview with CBC News earlier in the day, Toews defended the security estimate as the "most efficient and effective" use of public money for Canada's "unprecedented" hosting of back-to-back international summits. He also insisted the estimate was not a cost overrun.

"This has been budgeted for, and the money is released as it is required," Toews said.

The estimated cost for security over the course of seven days in June dwarfs the amount spent at previous international summits and is expected to surpass the $898 million spent during the Vancouver Olympics — which spanned 14 days.

The official price tag for security at last year's G20 summit in Pittsburgh was listed at $18 million US, according to municipal and U.S. federal officials.

But Toews said comparing the costs for security at this year's summits with the amount spent at the Olympics is like comparing "apples and oranges" because the G8 and G20 meetings, with so many heads of countries visiting at once, require a very "different type" of security.

"Granted there were some heads of nations at the Olympics, but nowhere in the configuration or the numbers that are going to be here," Toews said. "I don't think you can say, 'Well, because it's seven days instead of 14 days, it should be half the price.' It simply doesn't work that way."

The face-to-face meetings, Toews said, allow leaders to deal with issues that simply can't be handled over the phone or by video-conference.

When asked by the Liberals during Wednesday's question period to explain the costs, Toews said the government believes the experts when they say such a level of security is necessary.

"I understand that the Liberals don't believe in securing Canadians or the visitors here," Toews told the House. "We're different."

NDP Leader Jack Layton said the Conservatives have "quadrupled" funding for security, and some of that money could have gone to the government's G8 maternal health initiative. Layton then chastised the Conservatives for refusing to include abortion in its maternal health plan.

"You can do a lot of things with a billion dollars," Layton told the House.

In response, Prime Minister Stephen Harper repeated the government's position that Canadians do not want a debate on this matter.

Single venue would have saved money: Liberals
G8 leaders will gather in Huntsville, Ont., late next month, then join other world leaders for the G20 summit in the heart of downtown Toronto. The security money will be used for planning, accommodation, information technology and working with security partners to protect leaders and their delegations.

The additional $160 million in costs includes about $100 million for office and meeting spaces and pre-summit meetings. Another $1.2 million is to ensure the food served to dignitaries is safe and healthy, while $10 million has been spent on infrastructure and about $50 million has been paid to spruce up the Huntsville area.

Ignatieff ridiculed the Conservatives for switching the G20 meeting venue from Huntsville to Toronto months into the planning stage.

"At first they said Huntsville, then they said, 'Oops, Huntsville is too small and too many flies. Let's high-tail it down to Toronto,'" he said. "This is the confusion we're talking about."

Holland said the government could have reduced security by hosting both summits at a single location, instead of the "logistical nightmare" of two separate venues hundreds of kilometres apart. But Toews said the dates of the summits were actually moved closer together to save money.

Holland said security for the summits is critical, but the government shouldn't be handed a blank cheque.

"We're not talking about cutting corners; we're talking about proper planning," Holland told CBC News on Wednesday. "They tried to force a round peg into a square hole."

Security plans for the G20 meeting in Toronto feature two fenced areas — an outside fence that will close off a large section of the downtown and disrupt access to homes and workplaces, and an inner fence that will control access to hotels and the convention centre.

Later Wednesday, Chris McCluskey, a spokesman for Toews, accused Ignatieff of failing to understand the cost of the summits.

"His comments indicate he has no understanding of the parliamentary budget process, no understanding of the reality of providing security to world leaders, and no understanding of what it takes to have Canada take its rightful place on the world stage," he said in an email.

"The only embarrassment here is Mr. Ignatieff’s ill-informed commentary on an event he should be supporting."

Read more:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Last May 21 the government of Algeria shut down a union centre in the city of Bach Djarrah in response to independent union organizing. The following appeal for solidarity with the unionists affected comes from the online labour solidarity site Labour Start.
Act NOW!
Algeria: Union headquarters shut down
On 12 May 2010, Algerian authorities effectively shut down La Maison des Syndicats (2 Rue El Oued, Bach Djarrah, Algiers), the headquarters of an important coalition of independent labor unions fighting for workers rights, including the Syndicat National Autonome des Personnels de l'Administration Publique (SNAPAP). Their website has also been shut down.

The closure was justified on the grounds that the space was being used as a meeting place for young men and women, meetings were held that were not authorized by the government, foreign nationals were invited to some of these meetings without government authorization, and a general disruption of public order by the occupants.
The Letter:
Please go to this link to send the following letter to the Algerian authorities.

I am concerned that La Maison des Syndicats at 2 Rue El Oued, Bach Djarrah, Algiers has been shut down by your government and demand an immediate and unconditional reopening, as well as an end to all anti-union repression.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

And now for all you horror film fans...a scene from:


Monday, May 24, 2010



Here's the final update for the Montréal Anarchist Bookfair, the largest event of its kind on the continent. Coming next weekend.
[français:; ]
[fully updated information below and on the website:; ]
[please post and forward widely; curious about anarchism? check us out!]

MAY 29-30, 10am-5pm
at the CEDA, 2515 rue Delisle
(a short walk from Lionel-Groulx metro)
FREE. Welcome to all!

For anarchists and people curious about anarchism.



The Bookfair features over 100 booksellers, distributors, independent presses, zines and political groups from all over Montreal, Quebec and North America, and abroad. This year’s out-of-town vendors come from France, England, Switzerland, Belgium & Sweden; Oakland, Baltimore, Washington, Cincinnati, New York City, Indiana, Virginia, New Jersey, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut & Vermont; Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Fredericton, Halifax, Guelph, London Hamilton, Toronto, Kingston & Ottawa; Trois-Rivières, Drummondville, Saguenay-Lac St-Jean & Quebec City; and more! For a full list of vendors, visit:;


Fun activities, snacks, outdoor games, craft room, quiet space and more for all interested kids (and their parents):;


Art & Anarchy brings together the creations of dozens of anarchist-inspired artists and organizers. This year’s exhibition will include sculptures, paintings, posters, banners, drawings, and other multi-media forms. info:;

- On Saturday, May 29 at 1pm:
* Anarchism and Its Aspirations (Cindy Milstein)
* The ABSs of Anarchism (Anna Kruzynski & Marco Silvestro)
- On Sunday, May 30 at 1pm:
* Anarchism without Anarchists / Anarchism with Anarchists: The Practice and Relevance of Anarchism (Jaggi Singh)
* The History of Anarchism in Quebec (Mathieu Houle-Courcelles)


* 11am: Refusing to Be Abused: Histories and Present Realities of Copwatch as a Tool Against Police Repression (Copwatch Montreal & Winnipeg)
* 11am: Self-Management versus Capitalist Management (Nicolas van Caloen)
* 1pm: Building land defence and anti-colonial resistance movements: Becoming a force to be reckoned with (Shabina Lafleur-Gangji & Matt Soltys)
* 3pm: Solidarity City: Migrant justice and the everyday practice of mutual aid and direct action
* 3pm: One Big Union and revolutionary syndicalist movements in Quebec and in Canada (Mathieu Houle-Courcelles)
* 3pm : Practical strategies for anarchist writing (Alexis Shotwell)

* 11am: Anarchism and Riots (Marc-André Cyr)
* 11am: Panel: Taking Ourselves Seriously: Developing Strategy for Social – Transformation (Chris Dixon, Cindy Milstein and Maia Ramnath)
* 12pm: Anarchist Writers of Fiction Meeting (facilitated by Norman Nawrocki)
* 1pm: Basic Computer Security (the Koumbit Network)
* 3pm: Eugenics in Anarchism and Feminism (AJ Withers & Griffin Epstein)
* 3pm: Capitalist Authority versus Anti-Colonial Breakout: The example of the militant direct-action Civil Rights movement in one Northern u.s. city, 1960-1965 (J. Sakai)
* 3pm: Sea Piracy and Anarchism: Beyond the myths (Marco Silvestro)

FILM ROOM (Saturday, May 29):
* Deux roues sur terre (Guillaume Girard, 2009, 66 min., FR, Uruguay / Canada)
* Slug love (J. Mary Burnet, 2009, 3min.30, EN, Canada)
* Contre-culture à vendre (Pierre-Luc Junet, 2009, 7 min., FR, Québec)
* Tortilleria (Chloé Germain-Thérrien, 2010, 3min.30, no dialogue, Québec)
* Motions for web (Anita Schoepp, 2010, 4 min., no dialogue, Québec)
* I didn’t know what to say to him (Jessica McCormack and Stephen Brown, 2008 7 min., EN, Québec)
* Psychic Capital (Jessica McCormack and Rae Spoon, 2009, 16 min., EN, Québec)
* If CSIS comes knocking (People's Commission Network, 6 min., EN, 2010, Québec)
* Interviews from Defenders of the Land 2008 (45 min. excerpt, 2008, Winnipeg)
* Regards de société : Afrique, Palestine, Montréal (Santiago Bertolino and Steve Patry, 2009-2010, 65 minutes, FR, Québec)
* Les Anarchistes (2009, 25 min., FR, France)
* Whatever happened to Who’s Emma (Lyndall Musselman, 2009, 27 min., EN, Canada)

* 11am: 500 Years of Indigenous Resistance (with Gord Hill, Kwakwaka’wakw)
* 1pm: Justice for Missing, Murdered and Disappeared Indigenous Women (with Bridget Tolley, Algonquin from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg)
* 3pm: 20 Years Since Oka: Kanienkehaka Communities in Resistance (with Clifton Arihwakehte a member of the Kanehsatake Mohawk Community)

* 11am: Alternative Birthing (presenters include Martine Quimper, Melissa Bellemare, Francine Rhéault and others)
* 12pm: Radical Learning and Education (with the Rad School, Cap Libre, Jerry Mintz from the Alternative Education Resource Organization in New York, Kamala Bhusal of Sri Aurobindo Ashram/Orphanage in Nepal and others)
* 3pm: Supporting parents dealing with state authorities

* Toronto Community Mobilization Network (TCMN)/Southern Ontario Anarchist Resistance (SOAR)
* G20, Power and the Economic Crisis (Coalition féministe radicale contre le G20)
* Student Resistance to the G20 (le Regroupememt Anti-G20 Étudiant (RAGE))
* The Economic and Ecological Crisis of Capitalism (presented by the popular education of the Anti-Capitalist Convergence (CLAC2010))


(Friday, May 28, at Il Motore, 179 Jean-Talon Ouest): A kick-off and benefit for the Montreal Anarchist Bookfair. A night of music, hip hop and dancing: Micros Armés, Dramatik, Chaotic Insurrection Ensemble, Emrical and Don’t Put Charles on the Money. info:;


The entire month of May in Montreal is part of the Festival of Anarchy, with diverse anarchist-themed events occurring at different venues all over the island of Montreal. info:;


The proceeds from this year’s Montreal Anarchist Bookfair will support the DIRA Anarchist Library (Montreal) and the new Anarchist Bookfair Accessibility Fund. info:;

Curious about anarchism? Check us out!

Mise à jour!
[English: ]

[des mises-à-jour importants ci-dessous ou ici: ]
[svp diffusez EN MASSE : pour les anarchistes et ceux qui s'intéressent à l'anarchisme]

Les 29 et 30 MAI, 10h-17h
Au CEDA, 2515 Delisle
(tout près du métro Lionel-Groulx)
GRATUIT. Bienvenue à toutes et tous!
Amenez vos enfants!

Vous voulez en savoir plus sur l’anarchisme? Venez nous voir!

-> Veuillez consultez les POINTS SAILLANTS ci-dessous: Salle Principale, Zone d’Enfants, Art & Anarchie, Ateliers d’introduction à l’anarchisme; Ateliers & Présentations, Salle des Films, Salle de solidarité autochtone, Salle de discussion pour parents anarchistes, Salle de la résistance anticapitaliste, Cabaret Anarchiste, Festival de l’Anarchie, et plus.
-> Avec des distributeurs de partout au Québec et en Amérique du Nord, des ateliers, des films, des discussions, des expositions, des activités pour les enfants et bien plus !
-> NOTE: Pour le Salon du livre de cette année, il y aura des tables d’exposition pendant DEUX JOURS : les 29 (samedi) et 30 (dimanche) mai, entre 10h et 17h.

Le Salon du livre anarchiste de Montréal (ainsi que le Festival de l'Anarchie) rassemble les idées et pratiques anarchistes, par les mots, les images, la musique, le théâtre et les luttes quotidiennes pour la justice, la dignité et la libération collective.

Le Salon du livre anarchiste s'adresse aux anarchistes, mais également à celles et ceux qui ne se considèrent pas nécessairement comme anarchistes mais qui ont développé une certaine curiosité vis-à-vis de l'anarchisme. Le Salon est un espace où les anarchistes peuvent se rencontrer et échanger dans un esprit de respect mutuel et de solidarité. Tous et toutes y sont bienvenu-e-s.

Le Salon du livre anarchiste est organisé dans un esprit d'ouverture vis-à-vis des différentes traditions, visions et pratiques de l'anarchisme. Nous cherchons à promouvoir l'anarchisme en mettant en pratique des valeurs comme l'entraide, la démocratie par la base, l'action directe, l'autonomie et la solidarité, et en nous opposant à toutes les formes d'oppression.

Le Salon du livre et le Festival de l’anarchie sont une occasion importante de rassemblement et un point de référence pour les idées et les pratiques anti-autoritaires en Amérique du Nord.

-> Pour savoir « Qu'est-ce qui se passe au Salon du livre anarchiste de Montréal? », suivez ce lien:
-> Énoncé d'accessibilité:


Plus de 100 kiosques de libraires, distributeurs, presses indépendantes, maisons d'éditions et groupes anarchistes en provenance de partout à travers le Québec, l'Amérique du Nord et l'étranger. Cette année, des participants de: France, Angleterre, Suisse, Belgique, Suéde; Oakland, Baltimore, Washington, Cincinnati, New York City, Indiana, Virginia, New Jersey, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut & Vermont; Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Fredericton, Halifax, Guelph, London Hamilton, Toronto, Kingston & Ottawa; Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Fredericton, Halifax, Guelph, London Hamilton, Toronto, Kingston & Ottawa; Trois-Rivières, Drummondville, Saguenay-Lac St-Jean & Quebec City; et plus! Pour les participants :

Des activités amusants, des jeux, des collations, des activités de plein air, des sports, une salle de repos et d’artisanat:

Art & Anarchie rassemble les créations de quelques douzaines d’artistes et de militants dont la pratique s’inspire de l’anarchie. Cette année, l’exposition comprend des sculptures, peintures, affiches, bannières, dessins, installations, ainsi que d’autres médias. info:

- Samedi le 29 mai à 13h:
* Un ABC de l’anarchisme (Anna Kruzynski & Marco Silvestro)
* Anarchism and Its Aspirations (Cindy Milstein).
- Dimanche le 30 mai à 13h:
* Sur les traces de l’anarchisme au Québec (Mathieu Houle-Courcelles)
* Anarchism without Anarchists / Anarchism with Anarchists: The Practice and Relevance of Anarchism (Jaggi Singh).

* 11am: Refusing to Be Abused: Histories and Present Realities of Copwatch as a Tool Against Police Repression (Copwatch Montreal & Winnipeg)
* 11h : Autogestion versus gestion capitaliste (Nicolas van Caloen)
* 1pm: Building land defence and anti-colonial resistance movements: Becoming a force to be reckoned with (Shabina Lafleur-Gangji & Matt Soltys)
* 15h : Cité sans frontières : La justice en matière de migration et la pratique quotidienne d’entraide et d’action directe (Solidarité sans frontières)
* 15h : La One Big Union et le syndicalisme révolutionnaire au Québec et au Canada (Mathieu Houle-Courcelles)
* 3pm : Practical strategies for anarchist writing (Alexis Shotwell)

* 11h: Les émeutes et l'anarchie (fr.) (Marc-André Cyr)
* 11am: Panel: Taking Ourselves Seriously: Developing Strategy for Social - Transformation (Chris Dixon, Cindy Milstein and Maia Ramnath)
* 12pm: Anarchist Writers of Fiction Meeting (bil.) (facilitated by Norman Nawrocki)
* 13h: Connaissances de bases en informatiques (fr.) (le réseau Koumbit)
* 3pm: Eugenics in Anarchism and Feminism (AJ Withers & Griffin Epstein)
* 3pm: Capitalist Authority versus Anti-Colonial Breakout: The example of the militant direct-action Civil Rights movement in one Northern u.s. city, 1960-1965 (J. Sakai)
* 15h: Piraterie maritime et Anarchisme, au-delà des idées reçues (fr.) (Marco Silvestro)

* Deux roues sur terre (Guillaume Girard, 2009, 66 min., FR, Uruguay / Canada)
* Slug love (J. Mary Burnet, 2009, 3min.30, ANG, Canada)
* Contre-culture à vendre (Pierre-Luc Junet, 2009, 7 min., FR, Québec)
* Tortilleria (Chloé Germain-Thérrien, 2010, 3min.30, sans dialogue, Québec)
* Motions for web (Anita Schoepp, 2010, 4 min., sans dialogue, Québec)
* I didn’t know what to say to him (Jessica McCormack et Stephen Brown, 2008 7 min., ANG, Québec)
* Psychic Capital (Jessica McCormack et Rae Spoon, 2009, 16 min., ANG, Québec)
* Si le SCRS venait cogner à la porte'' (Réseau de la commission populaire, 6 min., ANG, 2010, Québec)
* Interviews from Defenders of the Land 2008 (2008, extrait de 45 min., ANG, Winnipeg)
* Regards de société : Afrique, Palestine, Montréal (Santiago Bertolino et Steve Patry, 2009-2010, 65 minutes, FR, Québec)
* Les Anarchistes (2009, 25 min., FR, France)
* Whatever happened to Who's Emma (Lyndall Musselman, 2009, 27 min., ANG, Canada)

* 500 ans de Résistance autochtone (avec Gord Hill, Kwakwaka’wakw)
* Justice en Attente: Justice pour les femmes autochtones disparues et assassinées (avec Bridget Tolley, Algonquine de Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg)
* 20 ans après Oka: les communautés Kanienkehaka en résistance
(avec Clifton Arihwakehte, membre de la communauté Mohawk de Kanehsatake)

* Accouchement alternatif (avec Martine Quimper, Melissa Bellemare, Francine Rhéault, et d’autres)
* Éducation et apprentissage dans une perspective radicale (avec L’École libre de Montréal, Cap libre, Jerry Mintz d’Alternative Education Resource Organization à New York, Kamala Bhusal de Sri Aurobindo Ashram/Orphanage au Népal, et d’autres)
* Supporter les parents aux prises avec les autorités étatiques

* Réseau de mobilisation communautaire de Toronto/Résistance anarchiste du sud de l’Ontario (SOAR)
* G20, pouvoir et crise économique (présenté par les membres de la Coalition féministe radicale contre le G20)
* Résistance étudiante au G20 (avec le Regroupememt Anti-G20 Étudiant (RAGE))
* La crise économique et écologique du capitalisme (présenté par le comité d’éducation populaire de la Convergence des luttes anticapitalistes (CLAC2010))

CABARET ANARCHISTE (Vendredi le 28 mai à Il Motore, 179 Jean-Talon Ouest):
Une soirée de musique, hip hop et danse. Avec Micros Armés, Dramatik, Chaotic Insurrection Ensemble, Emrical and Don’t Put Charles on the Money. info:

Le Festival de l'Anarchie prendra place au mois de mai, avec des événements reliés à l'anarchisme, dans plusieurs lieux publics de Montréal. info:

Les dons recueillis lors du Salon du livre anarchiste édition 2010 seront versés à la bibliothèque anarchiste DIRA (Montréal) et le nouveau Fonds d’accessibilité au Salon du livre anarchiste. info:

Vous voulez en savoir plus sur l’anarchisme? Venez nous voir!

-> courriel:
-> web:
-> tél: 514-679-5800
-> liste d’annonces :
-> facebook:
-> twitter:

- VENDREDI le 28 mai, après 20h: Nous serons à Il Motore (179 Jean-Talon Ouest) pour le Cabaret Anarchiste.

- SAMEDI le 29 mai et DIMANCHE le 30 mai, 10h-17h: Cette année, le Salon du livre anarchiste se tiendra à deux endroits situés l’un en face de l’autre. Notre lieu principal sera le CEDA (2515 rue Delisle, métro Lionel-Groulx), un centre communautaire pour l’éducation aux adultes dans le sud-ouest de Montréal, site du Salon du livre depuis 8 ans. Nous nous servirons aussi du Centre culturel Georges-Vanier, en face du CEDA.


No matter how difficult the task may seem human nature is inventive enough to accomplish the near impossible. In this case the task is to shift blame for workplace accidents from the employer to the employee. Here's an interesting article from Labor Notes about how bosses actually use "safety programs" to not only shift blame but also to divide the workforce such that demands for real improvements in work conditions will never be heard.
Confronting Blame-the-Worker Safety Programs
In a Missouri food warehouse, 150 workers load and unload trucks, lift boxes, drive fork trucks, and move endless pallets. Each month that no one reports an injury, all workers receive prizes, such as $50 gift certificates. If someone reports an injury, no prizes are given that month.

Last year, management added a new element to this “safety incentive” program: if a worker reported an injury, not only would co-workers forgo monthly prizes but the injured worker had to wear a fluorescent orange vest for a week. The vest identified the worker as a safety problem, and alerted co-workers: he lost you your prizes.

Blame-the-worker programs like this are flourishing, and they are harmful for workplace health and safety. Why are employers implementing them?

For decades, employers have brought in work-restructuring programs such as Lean, Six Sigma, and kaizen/continuous improvement. The result has been understaffing, work overload, long hours, job combinations—and therefore increased stress, repetitive strain, and other injuries and illnesses.

Increased injury rates brought higher workers compensation premiums and meant a higher risk of OSHA inspections. Supervisors lost bonuses, and facilities faced the loss of safety awards that had helped them win investments and contracts.

But instead of rethinking their work restructuring, employers came up with a different plan: hide the injuries. Enter “behavior-based safety.”

Behavior-based safety programs and practices focus on worker behavior rather than on workplace hazards as the cause of injuries and illnesses:

• Safety incentive programs, where workers receive prizes or rewards when they don’t report work-related injuries

• Injury discipline policies, where workers are threatened with or receive discipline (including termination) when they do report injuries

• Post-injury drug testing, where workers are automatically drug-tested when they report an injury

• Workplace signs that track the number of hours or days without a lost-time or recordable injury, which encourages numbers games

• Other posters, such as those stuck to washroom mirrors stating, “You are looking at the person most responsible for your safety.”

• Programs where workers observe co-workers and record their “safe behaviors” or “unsafe acts.” This focuses attention away from hazards and reinforces the myth that injuries result from bad behavior rather than hazardous conditions.

In order for there to be a workplace injury or illness, there must be a hazard. A union approach to reducing injuries and illnesses is to identify, eliminate, reduce, and prevent hazards.

A behavior-based approach, on the other hand, drives both injury reporting and hazard reporting underground. When a job injury or illness is reported, the hazard causing it can be identified and addressed. If injuries aren’t reported, hazards go unaddressed—and injured workers may not get the care they need.

In addition, if a worker is trained to observe and identify fellow workers’ “unsafe acts,” he or she will report “you’re not lifting properly” rather than “the job needs to be redesigned.”

It’s hard enough to get hazards fixed that we know about; it’s impossible to fix hazards we don’t know about.

Many behavioral safety programs also harm solidarity. When workers lose prizes if a co-worker reports an injury, peer pressure comes into play. Observing co-workers is harmful even if no discipline is attached to recorded “unsafe acts.”

Employers tout low injury rates as an indicator of safety, when the reality can be disastrously different. One employer with a safety incentive program and an injury discipline policy won an award from the Massachusetts Safety Council for having zero recordable injuries; the next year a worker was crushed to death in a machine. Minor injuries had occurred on this machine but were never reported.

Behavioral safety programs hide injuries, but they can’t cover up fatalities. In 2005 BP was touting an OSHA injury rate many times below the national average at its Texas City facility, when an explosion there took the lives of 15 workers and injured 180.

The first step is educating members about these programs and building solidarity around the need to end them. Incentive programs that promise prizes for not reporting injuries are hazards in disguise.

Unions whose employers are covered by the NLRA or similar labor law should use their bargaining rights to block unilateral implementation of these programs, as health and safety is a mandatory subject of bargaining. See for a sample letter requesting to bargain and a sample letter requesting detailed information on the program.

Unions whose employers are covered by OSHA can use a provision in OSHA’s Recordkeeping Rule: it is an OSHA violation to discriminate against workers for exercising their right to report injuries. When workers lose prizes or receive automatic discipline for reporting injuries, this can be illegal discrimination under 29 CFR 1904.36 and Section 11(c) of the OSH Act.

One example was at Alcoa: the names of everyone who didn’t report an injury went into a hat, and periodically there was a drawing for a big screen TV. Steelworkers Local 105 filed an OSHA complaint, and OSHA made Alcoa cease and desist.

In another case, an employer called in 17 members of USW Local 880 in Massachusetts and told them they had too many injuries—one more and they were up for termination. A call to OSHA produced a call to the company informing management that this was illegal discrimination.

Unions can respond to the employer’s signs announcing how long the workplace has gone without an injury with our own signs or leaflets that track how long it takes for the employer to address a particular hazard: “It’s been 14 days since the union asked management to fix [a problem], and they still haven’t corrected it!”

Pictures of the CEO can be slipped under the mirror magnets that say, “You are looking at the person most responsible for your safety.”

Any checklist used in a behavioral observation program can be turned into its opposite: instead of recording co-workers’ “unsafe acts,” observers record only hazards: “guard missing on Machine #3,” “understaffing in the Emergency Department.”

At the food warehouse in Missouri, the members of Steelworkers Local 11-500 approved the purchase of fluorescent orange vests for every member. These vests would each bear the USW’s sticker “Fix the Hazards—Don’t Blame the Victim.” Before this solidarity action was implemented, the employer “voluntarily” discontinued its orange-vest policy.

For more information on confronting behavior-based safety programs, see the Steelworkers' site Blame the Worker H&S Programs or Hazards Magazine.