Monday, January 31, 2011


You can be assured that something like a 'Welfare Rights Centre' wouldn't be of top of the popularity list of people such as Saskatchewan Party (conservative) Premier Brad Wall. After all the idea that anybody on welfare has "rights" is enough to double the necessary dose of blood pressure meds for such as these. That's all fine and good, but then the employees of this centre had the effrontery to actually unionize in Local 4973 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). When a campaign of harassment and selective dismissals failed to bend the workers involved it was time to close the centre entirely which is happening this month. What follows is a news story from CUPE about a demonstration held on the 24th of January to demand the centre stay open.

The government has replied to a continued campaign for the centre with a stony silence, but no doubt there is a certain amount of smug glee amongst conservative ideologues in Molly's old home province. After 35 years of operation there is suddenly no longer any need for an ombudsman-like agency to advocate for the poor ? Now that a bright new day of free enterprise has dawned the poor are at last free to go out and get jobs...or perhaps free to starve to death silently.

Now I must say that I am not a great fan of the welfare system. Even without some almost miraculous change to a new and freer society, however, there are better ways to handle the actual problems than what has been created by decades of bureaucratic empire building. Better for both the recipients and for society in general. If, however, we are stuck with the system as it is, or with only minor tinkering with it, then the existence of an outside advocate for people trapped in the system is essential. It's the old "division of power" and "checks and balances" idea that is actually one of the better inventions to come about in politics. Without such an advocate welfare recipients are reduced to little more than helpless toys in the hands of a bureaucracy.
But enough editorializing. Here's the story. You can follow the story more as it develops at the website of the Saskatchewan division of CUPE or at the 'Support Welfare Rights Workers' Facebook page.

Regina Welfare Rights rally

“Who is going to care for our clients? How will they cope?” asks Theresa Poness, a staff member at the Welfare Rights Centre in Regina.

Speaking at a rally in downtown Regina on January 24, Poness said she and her co-workers, members of CUPE 4973, are worried about how Regina’s most vulnerable citizens will manage when the Centre’s doors close next month.

The Welfare Rights Centre has provided advocacy and support services for people on low incomes for 35 years. But the government plans to terminate the Centre’s funding on February 25.

That doesn’t sit well with CUPE and anti-poverty activists. They have been trying to arrange a meeting with Social Services Minister June Draude for months, but have received no response. Yesterday, they took their concerns to the front door of the Social Services building.

“Silence is not an appropriate response from a Minister,” CUPE National President Paul Moist told the rally. Moist attended the rally with National Secretary-Treasurer Claude Généreux and CUPE staff. “People on low-incomes in this city need these services and our members need these jobs.” He urged the Minister to arrange a meeting.

Anti-poverty activist Peter Gilmer told the crowd, “The city desperately needs to maintain the valuable work of the Welfare Rights Centre,” noting other anti-poverty groups don’t have the capacity to handle the extra workload.

“Advocacy is a critically important service,” Gilmer said. “Those with wealth and power can protect their own interests. We need more people, not less, to defend those who cannot. We must ensure these services continue,” he told the rally.

For more information, check out CUPE’s facebook page Support Welfare Rights Workers

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Oldest to latest. Last 24 hours. See for details.
++Will Qaddafi Be The Next To Go ?
++Translating PolSpeak
++Superpower (graphic)
++Rand On The Dole
++La CNT En La Huelga General (Spanish)
++Vegetarianism...Another Point Of View (Video)
++Independent Labour Federation In Egypt
++Squatting And Building Anarchist Communities
++Alex Hundert Released From Prison
++CIA Drones Have Killed Over 2,00 Since 2006
++Song For Bradley Manning...David Rovics (Music)
++Too Much Money Can Make The Boss Mean
++Charley Chaplin Speaks (Video)


The other day ten thousand people gathered in Hamilton Ontario to protest the ongoing lockout at US Steel in that city. Supported by a broad coalition of Ontario labour and social groups the people gathered to show support for 900 workers who have been locked out for almost three months over a dispute concerning pensions. Like elsewhere in the world the employer is attempting to renege on previous pension commitments. The difference here is that the Canadian government allowed the US purchase of the plant three years ago under the express provision that existing pension plans be protected. The government has chosen, not unexpectedly, to stand idly by as US Steel goes back on their word. Here's how the event was seen by the Toronto Sun.

10,000 join union protest in Hamilton

Last Updated: January 29, 2011 7:50pm

Legeare is one of the 900 workers from the Hamilton-based U.S. Steel — formerly Stelco — who have been locked out since Nov. 7 in the wake of U.S. Steel’s demands for pension concessions.

“Everybody deserves to retire with dignity and not have to work until they are 85 or 90 years old,” Legeare said.

He was also one of the more than 10,000 unionized workers who clogged the streets of downtown Hamilton on Saturday to show solidarity, protest the pension demands and criticize Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government for letting the dispute happen in the first place.

“We’ve been locked out because we won’t give up our pensions,” said Legeare, who has been with the company 11 years.

“The pensions the company wants to take away after stating three years ago when they bought (Stelco) that they were going to honour our pensions.”

Legeare and his co-workers had lots of support on Steeltown’s streets. Other unionized workers — “brothers and sisters” — came from as far away as Sudbury to show solidarity.

“It’s time for workers to stand up and stop this,” said Rick Bertrand, a steelworker from Sudbury.

“We know what’s going on. We just went through the same thing in Sudbury.”

“The manufacturing base in this country is being destroyed,” said Ontario Federation of Labour president Sid Ryan.

“Hamilton is being reflected in communities all over Canada,” he said.

“Canadians are furious at Harper’s disregard for our income security and will make this a major election issue,” Ryan said.

“Harper’s vision for Canada’s future is a low-wage economy where retirees are forced to gamble with their income security on the stock market.”

According to the OFL, 2,200 employees have lost their jobs since U.S. Steel took over Stelco.
Here's how the event was reported in the Hamilton Spectator. More on the situation of the pensions here.
Thousands protest U.S. Steel
Thousands of union members jammed the core of Hamilton Saturday to denounce U. S. Steel and Prime Minister Stephen Harper for not protecting worker pensions.

The rally, in support of 900 locked-out Hamilton members of the United Steelworkers, attacked the American company for demanding drastic changes to the pension plan and the end of indexing for 9,000 retirees.

Union banners and flags showed the local crowd was swelled by members of the Canadian Auto Workers, Service Employees International Union, McMaster University students, Communication Energy and Paperworkers union, and public sector unions including the Canadian Union of Public Employees. The marchers were exhorted by the presidents of the United Steelworkers, the Canadian Labour Congress, Ontario Federation of Labour and Hamilton and District Labour Council and area NDP members of federal and provincial Parliament.

Speaker after speaker denounced the company’s pension demands as evidence of corporate greed by U.S. Steel and a clear example of the Harper government’s failure to protect workers.

“These fights are happening across the country now,” said USW international president Leo Gerard. “Everywhere on earth, these corporate bastards are trying to pick our pockets.

“I’ll be damned if I’m going to stand by and let them take our pensions,” he added. “We have to demand that Harper stand up for Canada.”

U.S. Steel was given federal government approval to buy the former Stelco in 2007. To get that approval it promised a “net benefit” to Canada by maintaining jobs and production for three years. Within two years, however, the company’s Hamilton plants had been shut down twice and their work transferred to American mills.

Now it is demanding the current defined-benefit pension plan be closed to new members in favour of a defined-contribution system. It also wants an end to annual increases for current retirees.

Rolf Gerstenberger, president of USW Local 1005, said Saturday’s protest is only the latest in an ongoing round of efforts to draw attention to the concerns of both his members and Canadian industry.

“This is a historic gathering that makes a historic statement,” he said. “We are in a crisis and that crisis has to be resolved in favour of the people, not the rich.

“This is a struggle for a sovereign Canada and a diverse economy that includes manufacturing,” he added.

The next round will be staged May 1 on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

Leaders had predicted as many as 6,000 people would turn out for the rally. The parade they staged took 20 minutes to pass any given point on its route.

See Monday’s Hamilton Spectator for complete coverage.


Saturday, January 29, 2011

People may have noticed fewer posts here recently. The reason is that I've been spending a lot of time over at my Facebook site ( ). Does this mean I'm abandoning Molly's Blog ? Far from it. I'm still, however, trying to work out the proper balance. Facebook has its advantages. I can post things there from other sites far faster than I can here, but the ability to explain and give background is considerably less (non-existent ???) . The chance to archive over there is zero, and linking via their "Friends" section is highly restricted. On the other hand I can easily post music and video, and I encourage my readers to drop over to see these efforts. The Facebook page also has a far larger selection of current news than I am able to give here. Some ( I hope few ) may miss my personal comments over there, but far more people respond to things there than they do to blogs so you can get the, unfortunately short, opinions of others.
I hope to get back into the swing of things with Molly's Blog so expect the number of posts to return to a "normal" level. In the future I will give short references here to things published over at Facebook. So...this is not a shrinkage of this blog but rather an expansion.


Thursday, January 27, 2011


Molly has given some prominence recently to the general strike in northern provinces of Spain, mostly because the driving force behind this strike was the anarchosyndicalist Spanish CGT. The CGT, however, alone in this effort, supported as it was by other libertarian and leftist unions especially in Catalonia, by various civil society groups and, most importantly, by a collection of Basque nationalist unions in the Basque countries. The latter was despite the neutral to hostile attitude of the major Basque nationalist party which is acting as a prop for the Zapatero government in Madrid, the very government whose policies the latest general strike opposed.

While I think the CGT can be credited with the initiation of the idea of a second general strike it was in the Basque countries where local unions predominate over the treacherous UGT and CCOO that the strike seemed to have received its greatest support. This is in contrast to Galicia and Catalonia where, insofar as I can determine, the results of the strike were quite mixed. I would be surprised if the CGT was under any illusions about exactly how much the strike could achieve. The CGT is a mass organization not a collection of vaguely "anarchistic" black blockers more interested in showing off and making "statements" about their purity than in results. I must admit, however, that I am unclear about exactly what the CGT hoped to achieve, but much more on that later. For now the simple achievement on the part of an anarchosyndicalist union of actually being able to call a general strike that drew large if not massive support is something that the libertarian left elsewhere in the world is far from being able to achieve.

To be honest the support in the Basque countries, non-anarchist as it as, was undoubtedly key to the CGT's plans. It leaves at least one area of Spain where the so-called "socialists" of the Zapatero government can't depend on bribing the bureaucrats of the UGT and CCOO in order to decrease opposition. What follows is mainly drawn from the extensive reports on the general strike published at the Spanish anarchist news service La Haine. I caution the reader that what follows is one sided as little about what happens in the Basque countries hits other media even in Spain, and I am unable to give the "other side" ( ie not the one I support ) like I am in the case of Catalonia. This can be important as estimates of support are obviously biased by one's likes and dislikes. I use La Haine mainly because it is a good site in Spanish as opposed to Catalan which I often miss even the general sense in.
Here are some salient points about the strike in the Basque countries:
# The leaders of the Basque unions, ELA, LAB, STEE-EILAS and HIRU EHNE have expressed their satisfaction with the "very broad support" shown for the strike, especially in the industrial sector.
#The unions involved actually claimed "majority" support.
#The unions claim a "practical shutdown" of the chemical and metal industries.
#The cooperative sector achieved a "high degree" of compliance with the strike.
#The situation in ports and airports is unknown, but the unions expect that the Port Authority will essentially have been shut down.
#In education the compliance with the strike ranged from 50% to up to 90% depending upon the area.
#10,000 people marched in Bilbao, the same number claimed by the unions in much larger Barcelona. Speakers denounced the role of the UGT and CCOO in supporting the government's pension plans.
#In Iruña people occupied a building to support the general strike. This occupation is similar to what has been occurring in Barcelona in the last few weeks with the dispute about CGT headquarters.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Four months have passed since the last general strike in Spain, called and supported by all the unions in that country. The strike was supposed to protest the various neo-liberal "reforms" proposed by the "socialist" Spanish government. Since then the legislation in question has begun to roll off the government assembly line, and the larger unions, the UGT and the CCOO, have done nothing further to block the attack on ordinary Spaniards (except collecting government stipends of course). In response the anarcho-syndicalist Spanish CGT, in collaboration with other libertarian and militant unions (such as those of the Basque countries) has decided to call another general strike for the 27th of this month.

This strike will take place basically across the north of the country (Galicia, the Basque country, Navarra and Catalonia) where the CGT and their allies have the greatest strength. In other parts of Spain there will be protests and informational meetings. Here is the call for the strike translated from an article at the CGT website. There is little doubt that the response to the strike call will be overwhelming in the Basque countries where the UGT and CCOO are actually quite marginal, even in relation to the CGT let alone the (majoritarian ?) local Basque unions . In Catalonia and to a lesser degree Galicia the CGT has the support of the other libertarian unions Solidaridad Obrera and the CNT Catalunya (a breakaway from the CNT-AIT) as well as the leftist and somewhat Catalan nationalist Coordinadora Obrera Sindical (COD). In Galicia there are also a number of other smaller unions that support the strike. Outside of Catalonia ( and away from the bad blood of the two CNTs in that province ) the CNT-AIT of the Basque countries and of Galicia has also decided to support the call.

Meanwhile in Barcelona the CGT and the Catalan police are continuing to play "musical buildings" along Via Laietana. Last Saturday in the follow up to a demonstration in support of the upcoming general strike people occupied yet another abandoned building along that street. This time it was an abandoned "cinema palace", renamed Casa Vaga ( Strike House in Catalan ). The police moved in to evict the occupiers, this time employing considerably more force than than they had done in evicting the CGT from their traditional offices and from the occupied (empty) courthouse on the same street. True to their treacherous nature the "ex" communists of the CCOO praised the "no tolerance" policy of the present conservative Catalan government and criticized the previous left wing coalition government. Now this is serious "bad blood". The CCOO isn't content with stealing the original building. They cheer on every attack that the state makes against the CGT. In a related development both the UGT and the CCOO have signed a notice of agreement to the pension reform due to be passed on the 28th, raising the basic pensionable age to 67 from 65.

For Another General Strike !
CGT new campaign aimed at raising a general strike in the Spanish state against pension reform, labor reform and the social pact.

Mercredi 19 Janvier 2011

Leaflet text :


On September 29, 2010, the General Labour Confederation (CGT) called a general strike in order to repeal labor reform, to change the anti-social economic policy and to propose a new model of social and environmentally sustainable production.

These objectives are still valid, since the government is legislating against the majority of the population, with new cuts, THE REFORM OF THE PUBLIC PENSION SYSTEM and THE REFORM OF COLLECTIVE BARGAINING. And it wants to achieve a great social pact with employers, political parties and the UGT-CCOO.

Since the crisis began, the economic and social decisions of government have served to:

# Give billions of euros to private banks, lenders, speculators and profiteers

# Ensure maximum benefit to large companies in the stock exchange

# Approve cheap and easy layoffs to reach 5 million people unemployed

# Allow the spread of temporary contracts

* Reduce the salaries of public employees

# Increase evictions

# Freeze wages and pensions

# Remove the help of child benefit

# Reduce spending in health and benefits for dependents

# Cut public investment

# Minimize the public jobs

# Increase taxes on workers and reduce those on the rich

# Keep the tax havens of the SICAV

# Avoid persueing the black economy and tax evasion

#Not hold accountable those responsible for the crisis

# Privatize public enterprises and services

# ELIMINATE # 426 euros support for the unemployed

# Reduce employers' contributions to social security

# Increase the retirement age and years of contributions to build pension entitlement

# Trim the right to collective bargaining almost eliminating it


1. DISTRIBUTE THE WORK , reduce the workweek to 35 hours of work each and everyone and regain a stable and quality employment for the 5 million unemployed

2. Demand the return of public money given to banks

3. Reduce the retirement age to 60 years to create jobs

4. Ensure the right to a decent pension

5. Spread the wealth , maintaining universal and free public services

6. Use social housing for the thousands of evictions caused by the banks

7. Ensure living wages, salaries and social benefits to the unemployed

8. Repeal the labor reform and prevent the free and open firing, overtime, and subcontracting of the ETTs

9. Ensure the right to collective bargaining

10. BUILD A NEW SOCIAL AND PRODUCTIVE MODEL based on social justice, freedom and respect for nature. For the right to a public pension, sufficient and dignified enough

For labor and social rights

Against the bosses, stockholders, and cutters

For Another General Strike !

Sunday, January 23, 2011


As the following article from Canadian Business says the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) has filed for conciliation with their employer Canada Post. While the union has made efforts to be conciliatory the attitude of management is anything but, as recent events in Winnipeg surrounding the new methods of postal delivery have shown. See The Workers Struggle With The Modern Post for the ongoing story of harm to the workers and decreased service to the public. Meanwhile you can hear the story of the union's call in a video at the CUPW site. But the following article pretty much says it all about management's attitude.
Union at Canada Post applies for conciliation; starts strike clock ticking
By The Canadian Press

OTTAWA - Citing what it claims is intransigence by management, the union representing 54,000 workers at Canada Post announced Friday that it has applied for conciliation, a move that starts the clock ticking towards a possible strike this spring.

"We've taken this action because Canada Post has to move from its hardline position on demanding significant concessions from our members, even while it continues to post profits and spend money on technological changes," said Denis Lemelin, national president and chief negotiator for the union.

A government-appointed conciliator will now attempt to bring the Canadian Union of Postal Workers and Canada Post Corp. to a negotiated settlement.

However, the union also noted that the appointment of a conciliator starts the clock ticking towards a possible strike or lockout by the end of April.

Canada Post issued a statement saying it "welcomes the assistance of a conciliator in our discussions with CUPW and is optimistic it will help us reach a negotiated settlement."

CUPW said that among concessions Canada Post is demanding is the replacement of sick leave with a short-term disability plan.

Management is also insisting on new work methods that the union considers unsafe — methods that have already "created huge problems and disruptions of mail service in Winnipeg, where they were first implemented last year."

Rollbacks demanded by management also include the imposition of a defined contribution pension plan for new hires rather than the current defined benefit plan.

"The union is adamant in its rejection of a two-tier system," CUPW said in a news release.

"Canada Post wants to eliminate the current pension plan for new hires now and then impose the new scheme on all employees during a future round of bargaining," Lemelin said.

"We have to take a strong stand now to maintain our public postal service and ensure that future workers will not suffer a deterioration in their working conditions."

Friday's move by the union comes just days after the government-owned corporation announced the appointment of a new CEO. Deepak Chopra, formerly president and CEO of the Canadian and Latin American regions of Pitney Bowes, a global mailing and communications firm, begins his five-year term beginning Feb. 1. ( No, not that Deepak Chopra, but quite ironic given that the Corporation wants to perform some mystical flimflam - Molly )

Saturday, January 22, 2011


The following appeal for solidarity with imprisoned Bangladeshi labour activist Moshrefa Mishu comes from the online labour solidarity site Labour Start. There is also a Facebook site devoted to this cause.
Bangladesh: Free Moshrefa Mishu
Moshrefa Mishu, President of the Garment Workers Unity Forum (GWUF), a trade union of the ready-made garment sector, was illegally arrested on 14 December 2010. The arrest occurred after mass protests of garment workers demanding the implementation of the increased minimum wage. While there was no warrant at the time of her arrest, Mishu is now facing three fabricated criminal charges. She has been ill-treated and threatened with death while in detention, and the police did not allow her to take necessary medicines with her. Mishu's health has deteriorated as a result of ill-treatment and the subsequent denial of adequate medical treatment by politically-motivated doctors while in detention. It is urgent to intervene by insisting that the Government of Bangladesh immediately release Mishu Moshrefa and to drop the fabricated charges.
Please go to this link to send the following letter to the Bangladeshi authorities.

I have been informed that Moshrefa Mishu, President of the Garment Workers Unity Forum (GWUF), was illegally arrested on 14 December 2010 by heavily armed policemen in plain clothes. The arrest occurred after mass protests of garment workers demanding the implementation of the new minimum wage. While there was no warrant at the time of her arrest, Mishu is now facing three fabricated criminal charges. Mishu has been ill-treated and threatened with death while in detention, and the police did not allow her to take necessary medicines with her. Mishu's health condition has deteriorated as a result of ill-treatment and the subsequent denial of adequate medical treatment by politically-motivated doctors while in detention. Mishu's arrest, her ill-treatment and the fabricated charges constitute a serious violation of human rights. The attack against the garment workers' union also constitutes a violation of ILO conventions 87 and 98. I demand the immediate release of Mishu Moshrefa and that the charges against her are dropped. It is totally unacceptable that people who demand the implementation of their rights and the payment of the agreed minimum wage are intimidated and criminalised.


The following news of upcoming protests against the City of Toronto budget comes from the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP).

Fight the Ford Cuts!
Feb.10th People's Delegation‏

Fight the Ford Cuts!
1)People’s Delegation to the Budget Committee: Feb.10th
2)Mass Call-in to City Councillors: Feb.14th – 18th3)Commie Pinkos go Viral!
Submit a Video/Poster in the contest by Jan. 31st
People’s Delegation to the Budget Committee
Thursday, February 10th
Toronto City Hall (Queen and Bay)
Rod Ford’s Budget Committee is right now working out the details of the opening round of his attack on poor and working people in this City. Ford campaigned on the basis of stopping the ‘gravy train’ at City Hall, but his Budget plans show how exactly he defines ‘gravy’. The proposed cuts are real and they are deep- this is the information we have managed to gather so far, but can imagine are only the tip of the iceberg.

With a record 76, 549 people on the affordable housing waiting list in Toronto, Ford intends to slash spending on shelter beds for the homeless. The Budget Committee is looking to CUT 40, 000 shelter beds (approximately100 beds PER night), replacing 6,000 with motel rooms for ‘refugee claimants’ who according the them ‘need less support’. Cutting these beds also means cutting the supports of food and shelter services that people depend upon. 34 000 beds will be completely lost, 6 000 motel spaces will mean total isolation and lack of support. Apparently to Ford, the basics of food and shelter for those on the streets is a part of the infamous ‘gravy train’.

The cops however, as we might have expected, qualify for preferential treatment. The Toronto Police share of the City Budget is already approaching a billion dollars and they can expect to be spared any serious measures to reduce this massive drain on resources. This is Rob Ford’s Toronto – more cops, tax breaks for the rich, cut services for poor and working people.

Tenants who face eviction in record number are being handed a $100,000 cut from the fund that assists them in obtaining representation when landlords try to put them on the streets. Now, not only will tenants not have proper support in fighting abusive landlords, but when people do end up on the streets (as will inevitably happen), there are no shelter spaces left for them to turn to. This is will escalate the already existing crisis in housing and shelter for poor people in the City of Toronto.

People seeking services at Community Centres, families who use recreational facilities, parents who use after-school programs, will be hit with user fees.

Ford claimed there would be no service cuts – but what we are seeing from shelters, to tenants, to community services, to transit is that this is nothing but a blatant lie.

It is time to challenge this opening round of cuts that Ford plans to impose on us. The needs and demands of our communities are clear – we will accept NO cuts and we intend to fight for what we deserve. We say: cut the cops, fund services!

We are calling on communities to confront Ford and his budget plans at all public consultations this week, and also COME OUT on February 10th for a People’s Delegation at the final meeting of the Budget Committee to bring our anger and our demands directly to them.

Get involved!
Contact: Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
Mass Call-in to City Councillors
February 14th – 18th
On Wednesday, February 23rd the Toronto City Council will begin debates on the proposed Ford Budget for 2011. Council is meant to vote on the Budget by Monday, February 28th. Every City Councillor has a vote at Council and need to be held accountable for what will come of the 2011 Budget and the proposed cuts by Ford to shelter services, tenant rights resources, and transit – and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Tell your City Councillor to Vote AGAINST Ford’s Budget. We want real action on poverty, not lip service and sound bites.

Find your local councillor’s contact here:
Commie Pinkos Go Viral!!
You-Tube Video and Poster Contest
The Year of our Ford is upon us. And it's not gonna be pretty. Rob Ford swept to power on his populist “working man” appeal, despite the fact that he is a millionaire and is gearing up to slash the very services we depend on most. Less than two weeks in, he's already preparing to blow $15 million a year on new cops that even the police chief doesn't want and costing us millions and millions of dollars by scrapping Transit City for his asinine subway expansion wet dream...Here's a chance to help inform, inspire, and energize the growing opposition to Ford's agenda.

Stick it to Ford!
Win Fabulous Prizes!
Submit an entry to OCAP's “Commie Pinkos” You-tube video and poster competition!

The themes:
•Cut the cops and fund services
•Ford's no friend of the working class

Points to be awarded for creativity, factual accuracy, and wit and please... spare us the fat jokes!

Deadline for submissions: January 31, 2011

Read on for important contest details:
Video Category: Upload your video to You-Tube and email us the link, at with the subject heading:“video submission”. Your video must be no more than 3 minutes in length.
Poster Category: Email your poster submission to: with the subject heading: “poster submission”as a jpg, tiff, or pdf file at no more than 300 dpi.

Thursday, January 20, 2011



The following story and appeal is from the United Students Against Sweatshop group. I gotta admit that the intro makes me a bit jealous. Going to Paris with a purpose. On the other hand I gotta say that I would much rather go to Paris with no purpose and certainly at a different season. Sodexo is one of those multinationals that you just love to hate, with a global reach and incredibly nasty talons at the end of its reach. Here's the story.

Tell Sodexo that student-worker solidarity is global!
Yesterday, four of us arrived in Paris to confront one of the world's largest corporations on its home turf. Sodexo, the French corporation that serves food to more U.S. college students than any other company, is just days away from its international shareholders meeting. This is a key moment to show the 21st largest employer in the world that we will not tolerate poverty wages and union-busting any longer.

Click here to e-mail Sodexo executives and tell them to respect the rights of their 380,000 workers around the globe.

Workers are fighting, and it's time for us to join them in solidarity. As more universities outsource and privatize good jobs, the "Big 3" - Sodexo, Aramark and Compass - control more than three-quarters of all outsourced college food service. And these corporations squeeze pennies from workers just to make their billion-dollar profits each year. Big 3 workers and their many unions are fighting for justice on campuses around the U.S. and all across the globe. Workers in our campus cafeterias and stadiums are rising up against poverty wages, while Sodexo workers at a mine in the Dominican Republic tried to organize a union just months ago and Sodexo responded with a firing, and even the Sinaltrainal union in Colombia that started the "Stop Killer Coke" campaign recently fought with Sodexo to win fairer labor practices. The corporations are global, the worker exploitation is global, so our solidarity must be global.

Since at least 1999, students have been fighting to kick Sodexo off our campuses. By 2001, students forced 6 universities to kick out Sodexo, and the company finally pulled out of for-profit prisons in the U.S. (they still profit from prisons in many other countries!). For a decade, students from coast to coast have demanded their schools drop Sodexo over worker rights violations, environmental misdeeds and unfair meal plan costs. Now, USAS activists have launched a campaign to kick Sodexo off as many campuses as necessary until the corporation begins paying living wages and respecting workers' freedom to form unions without intimidation.

Please take a minute to tell Sodexo to respect worker rights.

We want you to follow us on our journey here in France. Here's a couple ways to get connected:

* On Facebook, "like" the Kick Out Sodexo page:
* We'll post updates on the campaign blog:
* To get campaign updates by e-mail, just send a message to

In solidarity,

Terasia Bradford, Ohio State University USAS
Vicko Alvarez, USAS National Organizer & University of Chicago USAS alum
Please go to this link to send the following letter to Sodexo management.

I write to express my deep concern over Sodexo's treatment of its workers. All workers deserve basic human rights, including the right to a family-support living wage and to associate freely.

I believe your company has violated these rights in the United States and around the world. The TransAfrica Forum has documented Sodexo workers struggling with severe poverty wages and a host of other human rights violations. Human Rights Watch reported extensively on your company's use of "captive audience meetings" and other tactics to intimidate workers from joining unions.

As an industry leader that makes over a billion dollars in profits a year, Sodexo can afford to treat workers fairly. I urge you to pay family-supporting living wages and to respect workers' freedom to form unions by any legal method of their choosing, on every U.S. college campus, and in every Sodexo workplace around the globe.

Thank you for your time. I eagerly await your response.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


As a follow up to the information posted here on the eviction of the Catalan CGT from their offices at 16-18 Via Laietana in Barcelona....

Well, the eviction was successful, but on Monday, January 17, according to an article in the CGT's newspaper Rojo Y Negro, 200 members of the CGT occupied a disused courthouse a few doors away at 8-10 Via Laietana. The irony and indeed the humour wasn't lost on me. If memory serves me well (which it doesn't always) the area of Via Laientana was once a rather important thoroughfare, but it has fallen on increasingly hard times, and I suspect there is a surfeit of abandoned buildings in the area. I like the courthouse idea, and it's even more amusing that the CGT militants didn't have to travel very far to set up new digs. I viewed a video of the occupation from the CGT Catalunya, and I must say it is heartening to see a broad mixture of people of all age groups participating and not a single weird looking bugger amongst them. The photo above shows the occupiers posing at the doorway and on the balcony. In the video the people are singing a rousing chorus of 'A Las Barricadas', the semi-official Spanish anarchist "anthem".

The Catalan authorities, however, failed to share Molly's fine sense of humour and irony. Neither were they appreciative of the musical talent on display. After some argument the police entered the building to evict the occupiers. According to report cited above about a hundred people were charged with "usurpación y desobediencia". Not being familiar with Catalan law I am inclined to translate this as "trespassing and obstructing (the police)". The latter charge is unclear as I suspect just how much you have to obey a police order is as vague in Catalonia as it is in Canada. It might be more or less serious.

According to the report above and another report at the main website of the CGT there will be a meeting in Madrid tomorrow, January 20, where the Spanish Labour Ministry will once more be pressed to provide a definitive solution to the demands of the CGT for union premises. These are demands that have the historical right behind them of a return of union assets that were seized under the fascist Franco regime. Furthermore the Ministry promised as far back as November 30, 2007 (same article) that the demands of the CGT in Barcelona would be accommodated. It should be noted that the CGT had been in residence at 16-18 Via Laietana for 21 years at the time they were evicted.

Tomorrow's meeting will coincide with a number of demonstrations being held across Spain in a run up to the planned General Strike on January 27 in Catalonia, Navarra, Galicia and the Basque country. These are the areas of Spain where the CGT and other unions to the left of the socialist UGT and the communist CCOO feel they have enough support to make a decent showing. Demonstrations and meetings will be held in other parts of the country. A number of workers' assemblies such as that for Barcelona transit have already voiced their support for this new general strike. A cynic might suspect that the urgency in evicting the CGT from its premises in Barcelona at this time just might be a tiny bit connected to a certain nervousness on the part of both the government and the larger bureaucratic unions (UGT and CCOO). But of course one could never suspect the angels of the state and the "official leftists" of the unions of anything so underhanded. Could we ?????

Monday, January 17, 2011



The service industry has traditionally been both penny pinching and outright dishonest when it comes to their employees. This has been exasperated by a recent trend across the western world of hiring migrant labour, many of whom don't know their rights (and bosses are certainly not going to inform them out of the kindness of their overflowing hearts) or who are intimidated by their status in the country that they have emigrated to. One example in the USA, the workers at Chipotle, was recently mentioned on this blog. Here's another from Canada, out BC way. Seems that Filipino workers at the Denny's restaurants in that province have gotten together to demand their rights. Here's how the story is seen by the BC Federation of Labour.

BC Fed in the News:

Fillipino Denny's workers launch class action
January 13, 2011
Fifty temporary foreign workers from the Phillipines have launched a class action lawsuit against Denny's restaurant. The workers allege Denny's has not paid them in full and say the restaurant has not reimbursed them for recruitment and processing fees they paid in order to come to Canada.

The B.C. Federation of Labour is calling for a moratorium on the recruitment of workers under the Canadian Temporary Foreign Worker Program until all alleged abuses are investigated and the program is cleaned up.

To see the CBC Television story on the class action lawsuit against Denny's click here.
And here is how the story is seen by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW).
Migrant Workers File $10 Million Lawsuit against Denny’s in British Columbia
More than 50 Filipino migrant workers recruited to Canada under the Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) program have filed a $10 million class action suit against Denny’s restaurants in British Columbia, charging the company did not live up to the employment contract the workers signed before they arrived from the Philippines. The suit was filed in the B.C. Supreme Court on January 7, on behalf of the Filipino migrant workers employed at Denny’s from 2006 until the present.

One of the lawyers representing the workers, Charles Gordon, alleges that “the workers came to Canada, mainly as cooks and servers, to take jobs at Denny’s Restaurants in B.C. but were required to pay approximately $6,000 each to an agency that was recruiting employees for the Defendants, and the workers have not received the hours of work, overtime pay, air travel and other conditions they were promised.”

“These workers were encouraged to come to Canada with a set of promises that have never been met – they have done their part but the Denny’s has not lived up to their end of the deal,” says Christopher Foy, another member of the legal team.

“The federal government’s Temporary Foreign Workers program continues to be a shameful treadmill that lures workers to Canada, and then leaves them defenseless and vulnerable,” says UFCW Canada National President Wayne Hanley. “The fact that the Denny’s workers have been forced to go to court is yet another blatant example of how the exploitative TFW program turns a blind eye to what happens to migrant workers once they arrive in Canada.”

Sunday, January 16, 2011


The following petition to the US Ambassador to the UN is sponsored by the SOA Watch group.
Haiti: One Year Later
Click here to send a fax to the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations to demand a withdrawal of military troops and a redirection of funds to humanitarian aid.

Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of the tragic earthquake in Haiti that left 230,000 Haitians dead, hundreds of thousands injured, and over 1.5 million homeless. In spite of an initial massive outpouring of international solidarity, over a million Haitians remain in temporary shelters and over 90% of promised aid has not arrived.

However, one organization in Haiti is receiving over $1 million dollars a day for its operations. That organization is MINUSTAH, the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, created in 2004 shortly after the coup that toppled President Jean Bertrand Aristide. Currently, there are over 9,000 military and 3,000 police in Haiti, from over a dozen countries, including the US, Canada, France, Japan, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, Korea, Ecuador, Argentina and Uruguay.

The original mandate of MINUSTAH, according to the UN, was to “establish a secure and stable environment, which would encourage the development of a healthy political process, strengthen government institutions and assist in restoring and maintaining the rule of law and promote and protect human rights". MINUSTAH itself felt first hand the tragedy of the quake, losing its chief officer, his deputy and the acting police commissioner. However, six years after the arrival of the "blue helmets", Haitians are calling for an end to what they consider to be a military occupation of their country by MINUSTAH. Among the concerns expressed by Haitians and international human rights organizations are numerous citations of human rights abuses, including responsibility for the killings of slum dwellers, political activists and even a mourner at the funeral of human rights activist-priest Father Jean Juste. Currently, the Brazilian contingent of MINUSTAH is being tried at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights for the death of another Haitian activist.

Adding to the wounds of the nation is the recent outbreak of cholera that led to over 2,000 deaths. The outbreak of the disease has been linked to contamination from the Nepal contingent of MINSUTAH.

In addition to concerns for the human rights abuses, the presence of thousands of UN troops in Haiti violates the right to self-determination and sovereignty of a nation under the guise of humanitarian aid after the earthquake. MINUSTAH is the only significant UN military mission in a country with no peace agreement between parties of conflict. Exiled President Jean Bertrand Aristide calls MINUSTAH the “neo-colonial occupation of Haiti.” In a country where 70 percent of the population lives on less than a dollar a day, MINUSTAH costs the UN more than 1 million dollars a day, and is requesting to more than double the funds, to $850,000,000 when its renewal is up for approval next October.

On the eve of this tragic earthquake, the SOA Watch movement expresses its solidarity with the people of Haiti, and calls upon member nations of the U.N to immediately halt the MINSUTAH foreign military occupation and redirect funds from guns and ammunition to houses, schools and food. We also join people throughout the Americas who are honoring the victims of Haiti's quake by calling for a complete withdrawal of MINUSTAH from Haiti. Click here to ad your voice by sending a fax to Susan Rice, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

SOMOS UNA AMERICA. We are One America in our struggle to resist militarization and promote a culture of peace.
Please go to this link to send the following letter to the US Ambassador to the United Nations.

As Haitians continue to suffer from the devastating earthquake one year ago, with over 1 million people living in temporary shelters and schools and other basic infrastructure still destroyed, the United Nations continues to spend over 1 million dollars a day to maintain 9,000 military troops and 3,000 police from the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).

While we honor the sacrifices of many of the leaders and members of the MINUSTAH who, like 230,000 Haitians, lost their lives in the tragic earthquake, we join our voices with those of the majority of Haitians in calling for a withdrawal of these troops. Rather than keep the peace, as was the original mandate of MINUSTAH, its members have been cited by numerous human rights organizations as being responsible for abuses directed against citizens of poor communities and political activists.

In a country shattered by one of the most devastating earthquakes of modern times, where 90% of promised international aid has yet to be delivered and where a majority of citizens earn less than $1 a day, it is abominable that the world’s most significant international body has spent over $380 million on military and police force rather than using these funds to express true international solidarity.

Haiti does not need more tanks nor arms nor ammunition, it needs schools, hospitals, housing and functioning institutions, industries and farms. Call for a withdrawal of MINUSTAH and a redirection of these funds to true humanitarian aid.


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Here is more on the lockout at Roquette Frères in Keokuk Iowa that was reported on before on this blog. The union representing the workers, an affiliate of the IUF, along with their allies have launched a complaint with the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) about violations of standards of practice for multinational enterprises. Here's the story from the IUF.

Sugar and starch TNC Roquette in the dock at the OECD
The US AFL-CIO and the global union federation ICEM have joined the IUF in lodging a formal complaint against French-based sugar- and starchmaker Roquette Frères for violating the Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The Guidelines, which are legally binding on the 34 member states of the OECD and other countries which have signed on, oblige governments to ensure that transnational companies headquartered in or operating on their territory comply with internationally agreed human rights standards, including core Conventions of the ILO guaranteeing workers their rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining, among others.

Workers at Roquette America’s corn milling plant in Keokuk, Iowa, represented by the IUF-affiliated BCTGM, have been locked out of their jobs since September 28 last year for refusing to submit to contract proposals which would have effectively destroyed their wages, seniority, pensions and health benefits while opening up the workplace to "temporary" employees with no benefits or security.

Immediately after the lockout, according to the submission, "The company continued operations at the plant using a combination of supervisors, employees from the Illinois Roquette facility and workers recruited and supplied by a company based in Westchester, Ohio - "Last, Best & Final" specializing in furnishing replacement workers during industrial disputes.

"The fact that replacement workers were instantly available to operate a complex plant requiring a trained, specialized workforce immediately after the lockout was implemented indicates a premeditated plan to lock out the workers, if necessary for a prolonged period, in order to impose a collective agreement on the company’s unilateral terms and/or to permanently replace the existing workforce. Such an operation would have required sophisticated planning to have been underway no later than August, as part of management’s aggressive drive to weaken the union."

Running a sophisticated plant with hastily trained scabs has led to environmental contamination: over December 30-31, the Keokuk plant discharged 6,000 gallons of corn syrup into the Mississippi river – and the company failed to report the spill as required by law, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

The union submission to the OECD calls on the US National Contact Point for the Guidelines to facilitate a resolution to the dispute, and to involve as well the government of the home country, France, in these efforts.

You can support the Roquette workers – now in their fourth month on the picket line – by clicking here to send a message to Roquette Frères in the US and France, urging an immediate end to the lockout and an unconditional return to good faith negotiations.

Three days ago a grade 12 student working part time at the WalMart in Grand Falls New Brunswick was killed on the job, electrocuted while operating a floor scrubber at the store. One wonders if the store closed for even a minute out of sympathy. Here's the story from the New Brunswick Daily Gleaner.

Victim died while working at store in Grand Falls

WorkSafe NB has launched an investigation into the apparent electrocution death of 17-year-old Patrick Desjardins of Drummond.

Desjardin was using a commercial floor scrubber in the garage section of the Wal-Mart store's automotive department when the incident occurred.

A defective extension cord is being examined as a possible cause.

WorkSafe NB said the garage area was damp and that the buffer machine was old.
( I guess that newer and safer equipment would lead to a price increase of 0.00001%- Molly )
"We start at the electrical panel and go all the way to the worker and look at what all the elements were and if all of them were in good condition," said Lise Malenfant, regional director, northwest region of WorkSafe NB.

Desjardins was found laying on the floor at about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday.

"He was found without signs of life, but there were no clear indications on his body as to the cause of death," Malenfant said.

Burn marks from electrocution occur where there is high voltage, but WorkSafe NB will study the results of the autopsy when it arrives.

Desjardins was transported to the Grand Falls General Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

An autopsy has been scheduled for this morning in Saint John. Grand Falls Town Police and a WorkSafe NB inspector are investigating.

Public expressions of condolence have come from school District 14 where Desjardins was a Grade 12 student at John Caldwell School in Grand Falls.

"Patrick Desjardins will be greatly missed by everyone. He was an outdoor person who loved fishing and camping with family and friends," said District 14 Supt. Lisa Gallagher.

"His friends described him as a generous, trustworthy, reliable, loving and kind person who would put a smile on their face," she said.

Although school doesn't resume until Jan. 11, John Caldwell School opened its doors Wednesday for staff and students who wanted to drop in to support each other.

"Support from the New Brunswick Teachers Association, School District 14, Parent School Support Committee and home and school have been present," Gallagher said.

With files from The Victoria-Star


The following call for a solidarity action with Chipotle workers in the Minneapolis area comes from the SEIU Local 26.

Solidarity with Chipotle Workers Action
Time Thursday, January 20 · 10:00am - 1:00pm

Location SEIU Local 26 Union Hall
706 North 1st Street, Suite 110
Minneapolis, MN

Created By SEIU Local 26

More Info
Join us and our allies as we let Chipotle know that workers rights are just as important as animal rights. We'll be gathering at the SEIU Local 26 Hall and traveling to a nearby restaurant to let the fast-food restaurant know enough is enough.

Integrity starts with people.

In December, right before Christmas, Chipotle abruptly fired more than 150 Latino immigrant workers at multiple stores in Minneapolis, MN without notice or paying back wages. To continue using “Mexican” in its name and the chili pepper in its logo, we expect Chipotle to treat the hardworking Mexican American employees who’ve made their company a success with integrity and respect.

Chipotle prides itself on serving food with integrity; however it is not sufficiently committed to treating people with dignity. In fact, Chipotle treats its chickens and hogs better than it treats its employees The slogan, "Food with Integrity" means nothing when employees are treated with disdain.

The real winners of today’s broken immigration system are companies like Chipotle who reap huge profits off of a low-wage immigrant workforce. Instead of standing up for a comprehensive solution that would lift all worker wages, Chipotle scapegoats its workers and turns a blind eye, supporting practices and politicians that are anti-immigrant. Enforcement without comprehensive immigration reform just perpetuates a system
where corporations profit, workers suffer and our immigration problems continue to fester without relief.


• We are calling upon Chipotle to stand up and treat its workers with the same dignity they give to their ingredients. We are asking Chipotle to do the following:
* Pay, in full, back wages to immigrant workers wrongly fired at Chipotle stores in Minneapolis, MN.
* Stand up for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, because it’s good for workers and it’s good for companies.
* Refuse to work with suppliers that support anti-immigrant candidates through political contributions.