Tuesday, June 18, 2019

CUPE: York University refuses to negotiate with student employees, CUPE resquests conciliation

Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 1356-2 has requested conciliation after they say York University has refused to negotiate with student employees, CUPE has reported.

York has refused to negotiate with students who work part-time in student parking, closed circuit television (CCTV), and GoSafe (a walk home program at York) until they withdraw proposals the university claims are "unreasonable."

It is unclear to CUPE which proposals they have put forward are "unreasonable" however and the union says the university has not provided any clarification on this topic.

CUPE leadership believes the proposals in question center around issues of equal pay for students doing the same work as non-student workers as well as the provision of sick time.

As York has refused to negotiate for now, CUPE has requested a conciliation officer from Canada's Ministry of Labour to hopefully break the impasse in negotiations.

Just last year York University saw the largest post-secondary sector strike in Canadian history when professors, teaching assistants, and graduate students went on strike for 143 days. CUPE is surprised that this experience did not prompt York University to alter its approach to negotiating with employees.

The Oxford Student: University employees to hold strike vote over proposed pension scheme

The Oxford Student has reported that the University and College Union (UCU) has said it will call for a vote on a strike ballot this coming fall if 69 UK universities do not agree to change their proposed pension scheme for the coming years.

In April the University Superannuation Scheme (USS) raised the employee contribution to pensions from 8% to 8.8% and plans to raise contributions to 11.7% by April of next year.

Representing university employees, UCU has issued a demand to the universities that belong to USS and recognize UCU that employee contributions be brought back down to 8%.

Last year, UCU members went on strike at 64 universities across the UK over proposed pension changes and forced Universities UK (UUK) to retract their proposal at the time.

Monday, June 17, 2019

CP24: Brazil general strike called over proposed changes to pension laws

Brazil's unions called the first general strike under far-right President Jair Bolsonaro and the second in two years, CP24 reports, as the one day strike paralyzed major cities and saw thousands demonstrate across the country.

The demonstration comes on the heels of a national protest against the current administrations cuts to education.

United Workers Central labor federation called the strike in response to the introduction of a pension law that would increase minimum retirement ages and increase worker contributions to the pension plans. The federation says the pinch of the law will be disproportionately felt by the nation's poorest workers who often have to start working at a younger age.

NPR: Swiss women strike for equality

NPR affiliate KCUR reports that women across Switzerland have gone on strike under the banner "Wages. Time. Respect."

Organizers say the strike has been motivated by the country's exceedingly poor track record on gender equality -- women make, on average, 20% less than men and in some cantons were only given the right to vote in 1991.

Along with the demand for equal pay for equal work, women are demanding and end to discrimination and sexual harassment. They also want changes to societal and legal pressures that force women to make hard choices in order to keep their family afloat such as the high cost of child care that often means women have to stay home.

Nyasa Times: Student Teachers on indefinite strike over sanitation, diet, unpaid allowances

The Nyasa Times has reported that student teachers at Kasungu Teachers College have gone on indefinite strike.

Students say that sanitation conditions at the college have become unacceptable and that the diet they are being offered is very poor. They also say that the allowance they are due for their practical teaching has gone unpaid.

Student leaders at the 360 student school say they will remain on strike until all demands are met.

Global News: Edmonton Public Library backtracks on proposed cuts to student worker wages

Last Thursday, rabble.ca reported that the Edmonton Public Library seemed to be using language in its contract with Civic Service Union 52 as an excuse to cut the wages of students who work as pages at the library by $2.30 to $2.50. The library claimed that language in the contract that tied page wages to the minimum wage plus a percentage limited what they could do as the United Conservative Party's new provincial minimum wage laws reduced minors' minimum wage to $13 from $25.

Global News reported Friday, however, that the library was backtracking its position following outcry from CSU 52 and the community. While pages will continue to be paid at their current rate for now, the union is now looking to keep a closer eye on decisions by the EPL moving forward.