Wednesday, December 25, 2013

This Christmas Give the Gift of Solidarity

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, here’s something you can do to mark the day.

As I write this hundreds of riot police have surrounded the temple where the leaders of the Korean rail workers union have been seeking refuge.  By taking just a few seconds out of your holiday you can tell the Korean government that, even today, the world is watching.  And you can tell tens of thousands of workers that you agree: the right to strike is a basic human right.

Just go HERE to send your solidarity this Christmas.

And if that one good act on your part made you feel all warm and fuzzy, don`t forget there are other just as deserving online actions being run on LabourStart by unions around the world.

For a complete list go HERE.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Labour Day Review From LabourStart Canada

Most years Labour Day marks the end of the vacation season and a return to the slog.  This year is different.  From Canada Post to funeral homes, global furniture retailers to small town governments, employers have been aggressively pressing their agenda all summer long.  Workers who should have been on holiday were walking picket lines instead.

On Friday the rest of us will be heading out to enjoy the long weekend and perhaps a march or a picnic or some other celebration of Labour Day.  Before you go consider lending a hand to people sitting in an Egyptian prison or walking a picket line in St. John’s or Toronto or Richmond.

Just a few seconds of your time can mean a real morale boost for these folks.  All our campaigns are listed along the right side of our Canadian union news page right HERE.  Three are Canadian campaigns, but you can also celebrate Labour Day with some support for unions in Peru, India, Philippines and the USA.  If you join each and every one of our campaigns you will still have lost no more than a minute of your long weekend.

Leaving you with 4319 to enjoy with friends and family. J

On a cheerier note we have two optimistic items for you this Labour Day weekend.  Starting Saturday you can follow the founding convention of Unifor (the result of the CAW-CEPO merger) online at

And if you’re in the mood for new (and free!) takes on union classics you can download a CD’s worth of Labour Day music from UFCW Canada HERE.

Thanks.  Enjoy the long weekend.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Nasty Canadian Employers Are Busy This Summer

A pattern is emerging: employers are agressively looking to not just resist our bargaining demands, they're pushing and pushing hard for major concessions at the table and are prepared to put their employees out on the street for months in order to get them.

The unions representing all these workers are currently asking for solidarity messages from us all.

At the Labatt brewery in St. John's workers have been on strike for months while scabs take their jobs.  They're resisting the concessions InBev, Labatt's new owner, wants to make as it tries to bring the NAPE collective agreement in line with its global standards.  Globalization has come to the Canadian brewing industry.  Go HERE to send a message to Labatt.

CUPE members at the North shore Winter Club in North Vancouver have been locked-out since 3 May, also over their refusal to accept concessions.  Go HERE to send a message.

Calling his employees "animals" the owner of the Plaza Hotel in Toronto has pushed the USW members who work there out on strike over his demands for rollbacks on everything from benefits to the right to union representation.  Send him a message HERE.

Stay tuned for news of the locked-out Teamsters at IKEA in Ontario the US STeel lockout, the Bonfield strike(after the employer unilaterally changed the terms and conditions of employment)...

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

At Maruti Suzuki: We Shall Win!

The following is the text of a media release from India's New Trade Union Initiative:

17 July 2013, New Delhi: The NTUI stands in solidarity with the members of Maruti Suzuki Workers Union. Our affiliates, along with other progressive trade unions, gathered outside the Collectorate in Chennai this afternoon, will march in Mumbai tomorrow to extend their solidarity to them and press for the protection of their rights and tomorrow we will join them at their sit-in at Manesar.   

A year in custody with no charges filed and no bail granted, 147 Maruti Suzuki workers from the Manesar plant wait for justice. 542 workers and over 1800 contract workers were summarily dismissed for their alleged role in the 18 July 2012 incident. 11 more remain in custody in Kaithal since 19 May 2013 for their support of the union’s struggle.

All attempts of the MSWU to get the workers’ version heard have only been met with intensified repression. The journey from Manesar to Gurgaon to Rohtak to Kaithal to Chandigarh and Delhi and back to Manesar has been very long and unrelenting in its adversity. With the entire leadership of the union incarcerated, the workers elected a provisional committee of five members. Two of them are today also behind bars. The others live under the constant threat of arbitrary arrest. Charges in the case have been framed arbitrarily by the police while the government has been vindictive in its attempt to break the resolve of the workers struggle. If this was not enough, the judiciary has gone beyond its call of duty to deny workers bail since bail may be denied to citizens as this ‘…incident is most unfortunate occurrence which has lowered the reputation of India in the estimation of the world. Foreign investors are not likely to invest the money in India out of fear of labour unrest.’

The MSWU launched a sustained campaign across the state demanding the Release of all Maruti Suzuki workers arrested since the 18 July incident and Reinstatement of all workers summarily dismissed after the 18 July incident to culminate in an indefinite peaceful dharna and hunger strike at Tau Devi Lal Park in Manesar. Not surprisingly, in response, the Government of Haryana, ordered the imposition of Section 144 prohibiting assembly in IMT Manesar, around the Maruti Suzuki factory premises in Manesar, Tau Devi Lal Park, National Highway-8 and the Mini Secretariat.

The thirteen months preceding the 18 July incident were marked by sustained abuse of labour rights by the Maruti Suzuki management most of all the right to freedom of association  and the right to collective bargaining.  In turn, the Government of Haryana acted in concert with the Maruti Suzuki management failing to exercise the powers it is vested with to protect the rights of workers and uphold the law of the land. This attack came upon the workers since they succeeded in building an unwavering united struggle of permanent and contract workers resolute in their right to build and join a union of their own choice.

The dispute at Maruti Suzuki is not isolated. Yet, Maruti Suzuki has become capital’s symbol for employing the coercive arm of government to advance its interest. When Maruti Suzuki failed to break the united struggle of workers it orchestrated violence at the factory. At this point, Police and the Labour Department stepped in undermining the democratic rights of the workers, criminalising them and pushing their struggle into the ambit of criminal law. Maruti Suzuki has gotten away, without a democratic union and the legitimacy to hire a new set of fearful and therefore compliant workers. If Maruti Suzuki succeeds then it will most certainly change the trajectory of industrialisation and trade union struggles altering for the foreseeable future the balance of power between labour and capital.

Winning this struggle is crucial not just for the members of the Maruti Suzuki Workers Union but for the entire working class in defending trade union rights.

Let us unite in our resolve to together sustain this struggle, for it is a struggle that we must win.

Gautam Mody

New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI)
B-137, First Floor, Dayanand Colony,
Lajpat Nagar IV,
New Delhi 110024
Telephone: +91 11 26 21 45 38
Telefax: +91 11 26 48 69 31

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The National Rep's Prayer

Grant Me, O Lord, the genius to explain to my fellow members the policies and plans of our great Union, even though no one explains them to me.

Give me the understanding that I may forgive the apathetic member, curb the over-ambitious and accept the views of the member who does nothing until I have done something and then tells me how I should have done it.

O Lord, make me formidable in debate, logical in argument, fearless in confrontation. A lawyer, actor, mathematician, sage, philosopher, sociologist and economist; pleasing, cajoling, threatening, belabouring so that I may make the best of a good case and a good case from no case at all.

Teach me, O Lord, to stand at all times with both feet firmly on the ground – even when I haven’t a leg to stand on.

[added] Grant me the patience to flatter, pander, and support our great leaders, to put words in their mouths and strategies in their heads that they may shine for our members. And remind me always, oh lord, of your greatest blessing - that I have job security while they do not. (Anonymous).

Lord, I am a National Rep. In your infinite wisdom, see my need for all these things and in your mercy, grant them to me.

And, when I have them, Lord – MOVE OVER! 

[If you have any additional verses you would like to suggest, please leave them as comments here or, if you wish to remain anonymous, e-mail them to]

With thanks to Sister Stringer...