Labour & Unions
Cheap Clothes Across Continents and Centuries
Labour in Bangladesh flows like its rivers—in excess of what is required. Often, both take a huge toll. Labour that costs $1.66 an hour in China and 52 cents in India can be had for a song in Bangladesh—18 cents. It is mostly women and children working in fragile, flammable buildings who bring in 70 per cent of the country’s foreign exchange. Bangladesh today does not clothe the nakedness of the world, but provides it with limitless cheap garments — through Primark, Walmart, Benetton, Gap.
Crisis, Lessons and Alternatives
The interconnections of natural resources, empire and labour run through the most central and conflict-ridden crises of our times: war, environmental degradation, impoverishment and plutocracy. Crucial to understand and to change the conditions that give rise to these crises is the critical study of resource development and, more broadly, the resources question, which is the subject of this volume.
For decades, public sector unions in Canada have been plagued by austerity, privatization, taxpayer backlash and restrictions on union rights. In recent years, the intensity of state-led attacks against public sector workers has reached a fevered pitch, raising the question of the role of public sector unions in protecting their members and the broader public interest.
Public Sector Unions in the Age of Austerity examines the unique characteristics of public sector unionism in a Canadian context. Contributors to this multi-disciplinary collection explore both the strategic possibilities and challenges facing public sector unions that are intent on resisting austerity, enhancing their power and connecting their interests as workers with those of citizens who desire a more just and equitable public sphere.
Climate change is having an increasingly significant impact on work in Canada, and the effect climate change has, and will continue to have, on work concerns many Canadians. However, this fact has not been seriously considered either in academic circles, in the labour movement nor especially by the Canadian government. Climate@Work addresses this deficit by systematically tackling the question of the impact of climate change on work and employment and by analyzing Canada’s conservative silence towards climate change and the Canadian government’s refusal to take it seriously.
Big Business, Workers and Unions in the Transformation of North America
The crucible of North American neo-liberal transformation is heating up, but its outcome is far from clear. Continental Crucible examines the clash between the corporate offensive and the forces of resistance from both a pan-continental and a class struggle perspective. This book also illustrates the ways in which the capitalist classes in Canada, Mexico and the United States used free trade agreements to consolidate their agendas and organize themselves continentally.
Life and Work on the Border
Through a series of interviews with workers in the automotive parts industry, Negotiating Risk argues that the restructuring of labour markets and welfare states, paired with firm-level work and management reorganization, has exposed working-class families to greater levels of job risk and insecurity. Focusing on workers in Canada and Mexico and using a gender and race analysis, this book paints a bleak portrait of the lives of working people, where workers and their families continually renegotiate the effects of neo-liberal economic and social change. These changes see individuals working harder, longer and travelling further from home to keep their jobs, while straining familial and community relations and eroding the basis for worker solidarity and collective action.
Labour, Corporate Power and Politics in Canada
Over the past decade, Canadians have experienced wild economic swings: an economic boom followed by massive layoffs in traditional industries and a wrenching economic crisis. What have these changes meant for Canadian workers? Bad jobs? Weaker unions? Worsening health? If so, why?
Boom, Bust, and Crisis addresses these questions by surveying how work has changed across Canada, from the auto and steel industries of Ontario, to the tar sands of Northern Alberta and First Nations casinos in Saskatchewan. This edited collection explains the massive lay-offs in unionized manufacturing industries, the expansion of low-wage work and the rise of increasingly aggressive employers by critically examining Canada’s political economy and assessing the impact of government policy and labour market deregulation on Canada’s workers. The book also explores the recent policy changes to employment standards and health and safety protection in the context of neoliberal globalization. Written by leading political scientists, sociologists and journalists in concise, accessible language, this volume provides a rich and vibrant assessment of why some businesses have boomed while others have failed and why, through it all, Canadian workers have paid the price.
Though the Canadian labour movement’s postwar political, economic and social achievements may have seemed like irrevocable contributions to human progress, they have proven to be anything but. Since the mid-1970s, labour’s political influence and capacity to defend, let alone extend, these gains has been seriously undermined by the strategies of both capitalist interests and the neoliberal state. Electoral de-alignment and the decline of class-based voting, bursts of unsustained extra-parliamentary militancy and a general lack of influence on state ac- tors and policy outcomes all signal that the labour movement is in crisis. Despite much experimentation in an attempt to regain political clout, labour continues to experience deep frustration and stagnation. As such, the labour movement’s future political capacities are in question, and the need for critical appraisal is urgent. Understanding how and why workers were able to exert collective power in the postwar era, how they lost it and how they might re-establish it is the central concern of Rethinking the Politics of Labour in Canada.
Remaking the Promise of Oil
On February 15, 1982, the oil rig Ocean Ranger sank off the coast of Newfoundland taking the entire crew of eighty-four men – including the author’s brother – down with it. It was the worst sea disaster in Canada since the Second World War, but the memory of this event gradually faded into a sad story about a bad storm – relegated to the “Extreme Weather” section of the CBC archives. Susan Dodd resurrects this disaster from the realm of “history” and maps the socio-political processes of its aftermath, when power, money and collective hopes for the future revised the story of corporate indifference and betrayal of public trust into a “lesson learned” by an heroic industry advancing technology in the face of a brutal environment. This book is a navigational resource for other disaster aftermaths, including that of the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico, and a call for vigilant government regulation of industry in all its forms.
Reinventing the Workers’ Movement
Does Canada have a working-class movement? Though many of us think of ourselves as middle class, most of us are, in fact, working class: we work for a wage. And though many of us are members of unions – the most significant organizations of the working-class movement in Canada – most people do not understand themselves to be part of this movement. Canadian Labour in Crisis asks why this is so. Through an analysis of the contemporary Canadian working-class movement and its historical development, David Camfield offers an explanation for its current state and argues that reform within the movement is not enough. From the structure of organizations to their activities and even the guiding ideology, Camfield contends that the movement needs a radical reinvention – and offers us a new way forward in reaching this goal.