Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The War on Workers

In Harperland, the war on workers continues. Carol Goar reports that, this past Sunday, new EI eligibility rules went into effect:

Until Sunday anyone living in a region with an unemployment rate above 8 per cent was eligible. Now the benchmark is a 13.1-per-cent jobless rate. Only a handful of regions qualify: parts of Newfoundland-Labrador, eastern Nova Scotia, Gasp├ęsie, Restigouche, northern Manitoba, northern Saskatchewan, Nunavut, Yukon and the Northwest Territories.

Under the old rules, laid-off workers in most regions could use their best 14 weeks of earnings when submitting their claim. This allowed them to omit weeks when the plant was idle or their hours were sporadic.

Under the new system, only a tiny minority of workers can use this device. The rest must use the number of weeks Ottawa sets. In Windsor, for instance, it is 18. In Oshawa, it is 19. In Toronto it’s 20. The larger the number is, the harder it is to filter out temporary layoffs and lean weeks.

The losers will be call centre workers and hotel/hospitality workers and factory workers with unpredictable, unsteady hours. The winners are employers and the government (which raised EI premiums despite reducing benefits).

The  EI contribution rates for workers went up in the 2012 budget. The rate for employers stayed the same. Now those who have contributed more get less. The government has shifted the temporary worker program to the unquestionable advantage of business. It has now done the same for Employment Insurance.

How long will Canadians tolerate this kind of egregious injustice?


Lorne said...

I was in doing my weakly stint at the local food bank this morning, Owen, where, every week it seems the waiting room is busier and busier. One woman, as she completed her shopping, was weeping as she told one of the store clerks a story that was likely related to her straitened living situation. The people I see there on a regular basis provide window into the destructive effects of Harper's policies, ranging from the E.I. cutbacks your post addresses to the easy access corporations now have to cheaper labour under the Temporary Foreign Workers program so much in the news these days.

All people have to do is open their eyes and look around to see that egregious injustices abound under this regime and its enablers.

Owen Gray said...

Their rhetoric is meant to obfuscate, Lorne. But it's easy enough to see what they're doing -- if citizens, like you, work at a food bank.

There will come a time when the people they've abandoned demand their pound of flesh.