Top labour stories this week: Outrage over Bangladeshi garment factory tragedy; B.C. labour meets in convention; opposition to anti-union Bill C-377

Photo: Amnesty International

Each week top labour stories are compiled and summarized by our labour reporter, Lori Theresa Waller. If you have a suggestion for next week's list, contact lori[at]rabble[dot]ca 

Deadly fire in Bangladeshi garment factory puts scrutiny on Walmart, Disney 

 A fire in a Bangladeshi garment factory that killed 112 workers last weekend prompted massive protests in the capital city of Dhaka for three days this week, shutting down 200 factories. Labour rights activists blame the business model of Walmart, Disney, Sears and other companies whose clothing was produced in the factory for the grossly unsafe working conditions that prevail in Bangladesh's apparel industry.


EU wants foreign access to transit and energy procurement; Canada says water treatment is off the table

 Rules against local procurement policies in areas such as energy and public transit are among the concessions that European Union negotiators are seeking from Canada, according to documents leaked from trade deal negotiations this week. Canada, meanwhile, is set on excluding water treatment and distribution services from the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.

$10.6-million price tag for union disclosure bill, up for vote as early as next week

 In Parliament this week, the finance committee wrapped up discussion of Bill C-377, which would require unions to publicly disclose detailed financial information. The Canada Revenue Agency released an estimate that the cost to the government for administering the new reporting regime would be $10.6 million in the first two years, with ongoing costs of about $2 million a year. For more on this story, see Thomas Walkom's piece, 'Bill C-377 and the right’s stealth attack on union funding.'


B.C. Federation of Labour convention concludes, health-care workers reach tentative deal

The B.C. Federation of Labour wraps up its convention Friday, as close to 2000 delegates from across the province finish a week of discussion, debate, protest and elections. Yesterday Jim Sinclair was re-elected President of the B.C. Federation of Labour. Sinclair received 1,383 votes to challenger Michelle Laurie's 599. The Temporary Foreign Worker Program was one of the important issues discussed at convention. 

Following months of negotiation, the union representing 46,000 health-care workers in B.C. has reached a tentative agreement with employers that would maintain benefits, see a wage increase of three per cent over two years and put a moratorium on lay-offs due to contracting out.


Study predicts federal job cuts will hit Atlantic region hardest

 Cuts to the federal public service will disproportionately affect workers in Atlantic Canada, with the rate of job losses there double the rate nationwide, according to a study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.


Mediation between NHL and players begins, then stalls 

 The NHL and NHL Players' Association agreed this week to mediation, but after two days of talks with mediators, no progress was made. The impasse has many speculating about the possibility of union decertification, which would allow players to file antitrust lawsuits.


Lori Theresa Waller is's labour reporter. 

Photo: Amnesty International 

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