Labour Briefs: February 26, 2001

Labour unrest in schools taking toll on students
Toronto — Ongoing labour disputes between teachers, school boards and the Ontario government are creating a “corrosive” climate in schools, a provincially appointed commission has concluded. The Education Improvement Commission warned that if labour unrest continues, the results will include lowered student achievement and an increase in the dropout rate. The commission was formed three years ago to oversee school boards during amalgamation and was dismantled after submitting this final report.

Pork processor employs dirty tactics to fight union
Atlanta — The U.S. National Labour Relations Board has found that managers at the world’s largest pork-processing plant in North Carolina intimated, threatened and lied during two attempts to unionize some 5,000 employees. The company, Smithfield Packaging, was ordered to rehire with back pay 11 employees fired because of their union sympathies. The judge also set aside the most recent union certification vote 63 per cent of employees voted against unionizing. The court heard that managers intimated workers, threatened layoffs and plant closures and improperly interrogated employees about union activities. One employee was physically assaulted for his role in organizing and management threatened Hispanic employees that a union would report workers to immigration officials. The company is planning to appeal the ruling.

Strikers clash with riot police in Sudbury
Sudbury, Ont. — More than 400 miners clashed with riot police outside Falconbridge’s Sudbury, Ont. nickel smelter. The members, some armed with homemade weapons used to damage company vehicles, were protesting a lack of progress in contract talks. There were no injuries and one person arrested was later released. More than 1,200 workers represented by the Canadian Auto Workers have been on strike since August of last year.

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