by Barry Weisleder
After 86 per cent of 12,000 Ontario community college teachers rejected Management’s last offer in a forced vote, the Liberal government of Kathleen Wynne broke their strike with a law pushed through the Ontario Legislature on Sunday, November 19. Conservative MPPs welcomed it. Only the labour-based New Democratic Party opposed the strike-breaking law.
Sadly, the President of the Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union, Smokey Thomas, expressed relief that the strike was ended. He actually told the media that if he was in Wynne’s position, he’d have done the same thing.
No section of the labour bureaucracy urged defiance of the blatant assault on the principle of free collective bargaining and the right to strike. There may be an OPSEU-initiated court challenge, but that will take years for a decision to be issued on the constitutionality of the law.
No union leaders called for mass job action to demand that the colleges’ Management be forced, by an act of the Legislature, or otherwise, to accept the teachers’ requests for more full-time jobs (right now, 70 per cent of all the teaching positions are part-time), and for ‘academic freedom’ to properly teach and grade their students.
The issues in dispute, that fomented months of negotiations and sparked a five-week strike, now go to arbitration. Meanwhile, students and teachers will have to shoulder an intense work load as the school year is extended by about four weeks.
Photo Credits: Adrian Wyld, The Canadian Press
After 3 ½ months of a rent strike by 300 people in 12 buildings in the Parkdale district (in the downtown south-west) of Toronto, tenants forced landlord MetCap Living Management Inc. to make a number of concessions. These include reductions in planned above-guideline rent increases, some relief for tenants facing financial hardship, as well as a program of maintenance and repair work.
Strike organizer Cole Webber told the Toronto Star in late August, “The rent strike was successful because tenants organized in their buildings and then linked up across the neighbourhood in order to put that pressure on the landlord.”
“They would hold meetings in lobbies of their buildings, they would do door-to-door outreach, they would have conversations one-on-one with their neighbours, and then as they got organized they expanded that to mass texts, email lists, phone trees…. There’s strength in numbers, and so (they could) take actions which were rather bold because they had that organization.”
Photo: A Parkdale rent strike that began in May has come to an end with after tenants say the property owner backpedalled on rent increases and vowed to pay closer attention to pest problems and disrepair. (Martin Trainor)
Victory to the Strikers!
More than 12,000 community college faculty, members of the Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union, have been making headlines since the start of their province-wide strike October 16.
The union is fighting to improve education quality for students and to stop the shameful trend towards more precarious jobs on campus. An inspiring feature of the strike is the unity of full-time faculty with their part-time teaching co-workers.
OPSEU is calling for:
- More full-time faculty to teach students – In the last decade, the number of students has gone up much faster than the number of full-time faculty.
- Democracy at school. For faculty and student input into academic decision-making – for the creation of an “academic senate” that includes both student and faculty representatives.
- Ensure that there are enough counselors for students – put an end to outsourcing of mental health services so that colleges can adequately meet the mental health needs of students.
- Job security and better working conditions for contract faculty – contract faculty need to reapply to teach every semester, never knowing whether they will have a job next semester.
- “Equal pay for equal work” for contract faculty – Contract faculty are not paid to prepare courses, correct assignments, or offer out-of-class support to students. Most of them have to work several part-time jobs to make ends meet.
Congratulations to the striking college teachers for showing the way forward to the entire workers’ movement. For standing up to management on issues of quality education and student services, good jobs, equity, and against the bosses’ austerity agenda, the teachers deserve full support.
Mass rallies, demonstrations, solidarity picketing and sympathy strikes are the order of the day.
Help to turn the tide against the capitalist state and its servile institutions. Get involved. Make a difference. Build solidarity. Take action. Victory to the Strikers!
(The text above is based on a leaflet Socialist Action has been distributing widely for weeks.)
Photo: THOMAS CAMPEAN / THE CANADIAN PRES
Teamsters Local 419 represents 700 workers employed by Swissport, a multinational company subcontracted to handle baggage for several airlines at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport (YYZ). The workers have been on strike since July 27. Their demands are: wage increases that will be only slightly above the proposed increases to the Ontario minimum wage, and keeping benefits for part-time workers.
The workers have overwhelmingly voted down two proposed deals because the employer insists upon concessions. In the second vote, it was 98 per cent NO. The protracted strike will soon create greater problems for the Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA). The strike has implications for airport industrial relations and its 50,000 workers.
Socialist Action is proud to express its solidarity for workers on strike, especially for the members of Local 419 who demonstrate the courage to stand up to the bosses’ demands for concessions, and fight back for gains.
by Y. Fikret Kayali
The Renault autoworkers in Bursa, Turkey, halted production on May 15. Tofaş workers, who produce Fiat cars, stopped working the following day. The wildcat strikes spread to six other factories in the metal sector in Bursa.
Several other factory workers in Bursa, Kocaeli, Ankara, and Sakarya either went on strike or protested against their employers. More than 20,000 workers have taken strike action, and the Renault workers are still not back to work as this paper goes to press.
Continue reading Turkish Metalworkers Strike