Libs help Conservatives vote down anti-scab legislation
After months of optimism that the federal parliament would pass legislation banning the use of replacement workers during strikes and lockout, there was big disappointment in Ottawa on March 21. That was the day MPs voted 176 to 124 against the private member’s bill, with a majority of Liberal MPs voting with the Conservative government to defeat it.

“It is disheartening,” said TNG Canada national director Arnold Amber, who joined the Canadian Labour Congress on the Hill to help advocate in favour of the legislation. “In a minority government situation, we probably should have been able to get it across the goal line at third reading.”

Liberal labour critic Mario Silva has now tabled his own anti-scab bill and Liberals have vowed to support this one because it includes provisions for essential services. However, it is by no means clear whether there is enough time left in this session of Parliament for the new bill to get through the necessary parliamentary hurdles.

There is one silver lining for the labour movement: the CLC is that much more experienced in large-scale lobbying on Parliament Hill.

A cry for help for the CBC goes out to federal Heritage Committee
The CMG has asked Parliament to end federal neglect of the national public broadcaster. At the end of February, the union sent its cry for help to the federal Heritage Committee, which is in the midst of a review of the CBC/Radio-Canada mandate.

The Guild urged Parliament to provide a 10-year mandate to the CBC, to phase up its annual appropriation from $33 per Canadian per year to $45 per Canadian per year over the next 10 years, and to fix the governance of the CBC to ensure both independence from political interference and accountability directly to Parliament and the people of Canada.

The CMG has asked to appear before the committee but has not yet been given a date and time.

Click here to read the CMG submission in full.

CMG parent union joins campaign in US for universal healthcare
The Communication Workers of America (CWA) has joined a campaign involving unions and employers for universal healthcare in the US. The coalition hopes to achieve the goal by 2012.

“Every time we bargain, we face intense pressure for more cost shifting and benefit reductions for active CWA members and retirees,” says CWA president Larry Cohen. “In part, this occurs because, on average, more than one-third of typical CWA-negotiated health care costs come from providing primary coverage for spouses, retirees, and retiree spouses whose own employers are not paying their fair share. This, combined with the basic immorality of allowing 47 million Americans to remain without health coverage, reflects a system in crisis.”

The campaign was launched in early February at a Washington press conference.

CMG “son” wins $1,000 scholarship
Paul Matheson has won the TNG Canada/CWA scholarship aimed at helping members and their families complete post-secondary studies. Matheson is the son of Dennis and Rosanne Matheson, both CMG members working at the CBC in Vancouver (he as director of Canada Now, and she in the sales department).

He will finish his BA in Political Science and History this year at the University of British Columbia and plans to pursue a Bachelor of Education so that he can teach high school social studies.

“Textbooks for history majors in upper levels are often quite specialized and therefore costly,” Matheson says. “The … scholarship ensures that I won’t have to worry about working at the local gas station too much, and will allow me to focus on my reading and writing.”

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