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Asaf Rashid, one of the four defendants, stands in front of the Nova Scotia Provincial Court. Photo: David Parker
HALIFAX - It was a cold winter's day nearing Christmas, and not much was stirring on the streets of Halifax. In front of the Provincial Court on Spring Garden Road, a group of people huddled together, entering the court for a long-awaited trial date. On December 22, 2008, four Haligonians took the stand and testified in front of a judge to a courtroom packed with supporters.
The defendants had been charged a year and a half earlier after hundreds took to the streets of downtown Halifax on June 15, 2007, to oppose a regional integration proposal known as Atlantica. Charges included carrying weapons, wearing masks with intent, unlawful assembly, and resisting arrest.
The Atlantica demonstrations numbered 400 protesters and included a militant tactic known as a black bloc that intended to shut down the conference.
Demonstrators were targeted by police and reported extreme police brutality, including being choked until unconscious, shocked with taser guns, and beaten by batons.
George Dalli was one of the defendants on trial. "I saw police hitting other people, pepper spraying, tasers were drawn: it was an intense and intimidating situation before the arrest. I told the officers 'I'm not resisting arrest, not trying to be violent.' I was rolled onto my stomach, hands behind my back. I was choked, fingers were jabbed into my neck, I said 'don't do this to me, I'm losing consciousness, don't do this to me', and I continued saying this until I lost consciousness."
The 21 individuals arrested that day spent the next three days in jail, the first 48 hours in lockdown.
A sit-in at York University began Monday where CUPE 3903, the York University union local representing teaching assistants, contract faculty and graduate students has been on strike for 5 weeks.
With the union making a variety of strong demands and the University refusing to bargain further the strike has dragged on for 5 weeks and tensions have grown.
For-profit media has largely written anti-union pieces unilaterally in favour of the University. Many editors in the corporate sphere have suggested the government enact back to work legislation of a questionably legal nature.
In the meantime, 80 students in support of striking workers are occupying the University Presidents Office demanding to question the University President. Classes for the rest of 2008 are scheduled to be canceled today.
Bad month for Xstrata, one of the worlds biggest mining groups.
First, CAW Local 599 goes on strike in Timmins, Ontario at the Copper Kidd Metallurgical mine.
Then it's pitch to take over Lonmin, an Anglo-African platinum mine company , fails because of the Credit Crisis.
Xstrata took over Canadian mining company Falconbridge in 2006.
Former labour leader Buzz Hargrove has ignored retirement and joined the advisory board of the NHL Players Association.
According to Hockeybuzz.com: "Buzz Hargrove (Toronto, Ontario) served as the national president of the Canadian Auto Workers Union since his acclamation in 1992 until he recently retired in September 2008. Hargrove has been one of Canada’s top labour leaders and has extensive collective bargaining experience."
Let's hope the players don't mysteriously lose the right to strike!
In one of the more polite demonstrations I've attended, a union coalition lead by the Nova Scotia General Employees Union staged a sidewalk rally of about 500 in front of the province's legislature on Thursday. While members of the crowd, which included a strong contingent of nurses and healthcare workers, heckled Premier Rodney Macdonald's minority government (top pic), the military guard-laden arrival of Nova Scotia's Lt.-Gov Mayann Francis, due to read her first speech from the throne, on the other side of the building was met with no interruption (bottom pic). After Macdonald's assertion that the unions were being "disrespectful" for holding a demonstration during the ceremonial speech from the throne, the union leadership responded by urging demonstrators to remain quiet outside of the legislature while Francis made her speech.
The rally was called in response to a bill due to be introduced by the minority tories banning the right to strike for the 32,000 healthcare workers in Nova Scotia. Macdonald had promised to introduce the bill in May following a one-day strike at a children's hospital in Halifax. The bill seems to be on the verge of being junked as a result of the union campaign, as both the Liberals and NDP have pledged to vote against it, were it to be introduced by the minority government. As a result, Macdonald has admitted he is unwilling to see his government fall as a result of the proposed anti-strike legislation.
Regardless of this apparent defeat, the throne speech outlined the Tory government's plans to establish more publicly funded, private health facilities in the province.
Geoff Bickerton has some thoughts about the democratic implications of the deal between the CAW and Magna.
Editor and Publisher has an interesting piece about the anti-union stance of newspapers that publish in union towns like Detroit.
The Associated Press and AFP are reporting that four workers are dead and twenty-five injured in a major construction accident.
What none of the agencies (so far, that I've seen) are saying is that an accident this bad was pretty much inevitable, given the sub-human treatment of migrant workers who are building Dubai, and the incredibly strenuous conditions and long hours they are forced to work.
The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.