On Sunday, Caterpillar locked out about 450 union workers at a locomotive plant in London, Ontario, while Rio Tinto Alcan locked out about 800 union workers in Quebec at a smelting plant. Workers have been pushing back against cost-cutting drives by employers, who are increasingly pushing back, reports the WSJ. Caterpillar is seeking to negotiate a new contract with its workers, and a spokesman for the company said the lockout would continue until one is agreed. Meanwhile union officials said that the latest offer from the company would see wages cut in have and benefits slashed. Rio Tinto has been in negotiations with its unionised workers since October.
On Wednesday, new federal rules were announced that will make it easier for unions to recruit to members and organise themselves in the workplace, the WSJ reports. From April 30th next year, the rules will make it more difficult for employers to delay the formation of unions inside private sector companies. The usual delay tactic has been to challenge whether certain employees are eligible to vote on union formation, because they are part-time or management. Under the new rules, however, such challenges will have to wait until after the vote. About 10 per cent of elections were delayed in this way in the past, for an average of 101 days.
Boeing has struck a four-year deal with its biggest union that would protect production from strike action and end a high-profile attempt to force the aircraft maker to close a new factory, the FT says. The company was hit by a damaging 52-day strike in 2008, the last time the contract was up for renewal, which cost the company about $5bn in lost revenue, halted production of all its commercial aircraft models and caused delays to the introduction of the 787 Dreamliner. If members of the International Association of Machinists agree to ratify the deal, the union has agreed to drop its grievance against the company over a new 787 factory in South Carolina, which is at the heart of a dispute between Boeing and the National Labor Relations Board that has been widely cited by business in the US as an example of regulatory over-reach.
The board of Iberia is set to meet on Tuesday to consider establishing a new low-cost airline that should help improve the Spanish flag carrier’s profitability, but could also provoke industrial action, the FT reports. Iberia, owned by International Airlines Group, has for the past two years been studying the case for creating a low-cost airline that would assume responsibility for Spanish flag carrier’s short-haul flights. Sepla, the Spanish pilots union, said it believed Iberia was considering outsourcing many functions related to its domestic flights and warned it could consider the case for strike action. Willie Walsh, IAG’s chief executive, could therefore be dealing with a second significant bout of industrial action. Cabin crew at British Airways, also owned by IAG, went on strike last year after the company proposed cutting staffing on long-haul flights and the bitter dispute was only resolved in June.
Mad, bad, and dangerous to know — the response from states to the idea of Congress pre-emptively legislating for their bankruptcy.
In Monday’s Wall Street Journal, EJ McMahon of the Manhattan Institute adds to the criticism, arguing that it could distract states from the essential task of pension reform. Read more
Bank of England governor versus — err — Big Barn Farm during a rare appearance at the UK’s Trade Union Congress on Wednesday:
For the benefit of readers outside the UK, CBeebies is a television channel for children — and Bob Crow’s a rather militant trade union leader. Read more