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P.O. Box 2633 MPO,
Vancouver, British Columbia,
Canada V6B 3W8
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  • Volume Eight, Number Eight: December 2003


    The Attack On a Decent Living Wage Continues

    October 12 2003 the Canadian Federation of  Independent Business (CFIB) released a report to the major media outlets titled:  New CFIB research findings on government hirings and wages:

    An examination of this report reveals that the CFIB ignored basic facts in their press release. Mainly that wages and benefits paid to public sector employees by government pale in comparison to both upper level management salaries, and the major expense incurred when governments pay huge salaries to private consultants to do work that could be done at lower cost by professional civil servants.

    Don't let the name fool you, they represent "independent business" not "small business" and there is a difference in the chosen terminology.  These are not small mom and pop operations banded together to seek a more cost effective way of running their corner store. The introductory statement on the CFIB website says it all: “CFIB works on behalf of more than 100,000 independent business owners in every sector and region in Canada”.  The membership numbers, coast-to-coast and north to south, across this vast land, indicate that the CFIB has only slightly more than 100,000 members, and that rather than voicing the concerns of small business, the CFIB champions the interests of corporations. Corporations that are perfectly willing to sacrifice employee health, safety and general well being in order to generate increased profit margins. They are the beneficiaries of plans like the  "training wage", elimination of overtime and the elimination of benefit packages.

    The CFIB seeks to perpetuate a mythology that public employees are lazy and overpaid. Yet in reality many of these same public service workers spend every work day on the front lines, working with the poor, with crime and violence, and with emergency services. They maintain our health services, operate the court system, defend our country and perform many other vital services that we Canadians often take for granted, at least until they are decreased or eliminated by the ideologically driven policies of the right wing.
    The  CFIB membership solely represents the desires of corporate management. These CEOs and upper level executives already enjoy better wages, superior benefits and job security than their employees can only dream of. The rationale of cutting wages and benefits will in the long term serve few, as fewer people can afford to purchase products, more small business will go bankrupt. The reality will move closer of  the capitalist dream of a wealthy few who are able to benefit from a vast pool of semi-skilled labour desperate to take any employment offer dangled before them

    Wake up to this reality and fight back. We need to know the history of the labour movement and how the wealthy elites treated their workers during the Industrial Age. We need to know why corporations came into existence and why workers have been driven to fight for safe working conditions and a living wage back at the start of the 20th century and now the 21st century. We need to seek truth.

    Take up the fight any way we can. Get active in your union or if you are not a union shop, contact a union business agent and learn how your workplace can be organized. We will lose rights and benefits that so many fought and died for if we do not fight back.

    - Dennis O’Brian

    Social Contract Broken
    A month ago , the Council of Senior Citizens’ Organizations of BC (COSCO) finished the largest seniors’ conference ever held in the history of British Columbia. The successful conference dealt with the issues of Health, Housing and Income. Over 400 seniors coming from all parts of the Province debated these topics and reached a broad consensus on a legislative agenda for seniors. The delegates to the conference were united in their position that the Provincial Liberal Government has broken the social contract with seniors, and is, therefore, unworthy of seniors’ political support. The conference heard report after report from the so-called “heartland” of seniors’ services being cut back, and closures of hospitals and hospital beds becoming a daily occurrence. Delegates from Delta reported further closures of hospital beds in the Ladner Hospital.
    The delegates demanded the resignation of Katherine Whittred, the Minister of State responsible for seniors, for having failed seniors miserably. In addition, seniors undertook to go back to their communities and mobilize greater opposition to actions harmful to seniors. Rudy Lawrence, President of COSCO, said, “Seniors are justly angry about the unfair treatment they have received from this government; this government is not only barbaric in how it treats its seniors and the disabled, but it is also economically incompetent when it comes to running the Province.
    The conference, under the COSCO banner, was organized by retired academics, health professionals, journalists and community organizers. The cities of Vancouver, Richmond, Port Coquitlam and Burnaby issued civic proclamations declaring October 1 2003 the International Day of the Elder Person and congratulated COSCO for organizing this important conference.
    “This conference will have either a therapeutic effect upon how this Provincial Liberal Government treats seniors, or, if that fails, seniors might be the straw that will break the Provincial Liberal Government’s back in the next provincial election,” said Dr. Alexander Lockhart, one of the conference speakers.

    Rudy Lawrence

    Frank correction

    In October's Columbia Journal, you misspelled, and incompletely, my name as
    Franke Sterle.
    So, could you please publish a correction –

     i.e., Frank G. Sterle, Jr. --

    in the next (or following that issue) Columbia Journal.
    It would mean a lot to my father and me.


    - Frank G. Sterle, Jr.


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