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Harper “stimulus” budget falls far short

The big show the Stephen Harper Tories made of addressing the economic and financial crisis to save their government might have worked on the Liberals, but those most affected by the recession won’t likely be so impressed.

The budget:

• puts time limits and conditions on so many of the potentially helpful programs that it’s doubtful the money will be spent;

• still proposes $2 billion in tax cuts that will benefit mostly wealthy Canadians;

• extends benefits for people who qualify for EI, but does nothing to make more people eligible; and

• continues to demand that municipalities pursue PPPs in return for federal infrastructure money.

CUPE’s full budget analysis is at: http://cupe.ca/budget

Ontario Liberals legislate end to York strike

Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals used their majority at Queen’s Park to legislate an end to the 85-day strike at York University.

It is obvious that the York administration has no desire, indeed has never intended to reach a negotiated settlement,” said CUPE 3903 spokesperson Tyler Shipley.  “We have done everything in our power to stand up for the quality and accessibility of education at York in this round of negotiations but, for now, it’s time to get our students back to class.”

CUPE 3903’s 3,400 members had been on strike since November 6.

Journal de Québec workers pledge support for Montréal colleagues

Denis Bolduc, the spokesperson for CUPE members at the Journal de Québec, dedicated his members to supporting union members locked out at the Journal de Montréal this week.

There’s no question that journalists and photographers from Québec will replace those in Montréal,” he said.  “I have no doubt Quebecor will be cutting and pasting to fill the pages of the locked out newspaper, and we cannot prevent that.”

But no journalist will replace their colleagues in Montréal.”

Journal de Québec workers were locked out for 16 months between April 2007 and August 2008.

New round of cuts at Air Canada

Air Canada announced this week it will lay off 345 flight attendants.

Air Canada has decided to squeeze more money out of its passengers and workers by reducing the number of flights and service quality onboard,” Paul Moist said.

While the company blamed the 2008 round of cuts - which cost 600 flight attendants their jobs - the price of oil has since collapsed.

This round of cuts seems to be company posturing in a bargaining year.

The Air Canada Component of CUPE represents more than 5,700 flight attendants based in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montréal. Their contract is due to expire on June 30, 2009.

NL recycling needs public fix

Public control of Newfoundland and Labrador’s solid waste system is the best way to improve the province’s recycling programs, says CUPE.

The latest report from the Newfoundland and Labrador Auditor General documents problems with the province’s recycling efforts, including:

• 1.3 million used tires awaiting recycling;
• A new low in the number of drink containers collected for recycling;
• Two untendered drink container recycling contracts with no “identifiable expiry date” and incomplete contract information;
• A $12.5 million waste management trust fund that could be spent on “significant waste management initiatives”.

The time is now for the provincial government to step up to the plate and spearhead a move toward a publicly-owned and operated waste management plan,” says CUPE Newfoundland and Labrador President Wayne Lucas.

Study pans BC P3s

A new report finds the BC government has stacked the deck in favour of expensive and unaccountable P3s.

The study calls into question how P3 deals are awarded and evaluated.

It comes as the federal government prepares to cut the ribbon on a federal P3 agency that could spread the same faulty practices across the country.

CUPE BC commissioned respected forensic accountant Ron Parks to unearth the truth behind the province’s pro-privatization push, being driven and overseen by Partnerships BC.

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