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[IWS] CANADA: Perry Work Report 10 January 2014
[The following is courtesy of the Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources, University of Toronto].
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January 10, 2014
Silence of the Labs
"In the past few years, the federal government has cut funding to hundreds of renowned research institutes and programs. Ottawa has dismissed more than 2,000 federal scientists and researchers and has drastically cut or ended programs that monitored smoke stack emissions, food inspections, oil spills, water quality and climate change."
"Now some scientists have become unlikely radicals, denouncing what they call is a politically-driven war on knowledge. In Silence of the Labs, Linden MacIntyre tells the story of scientists -- and what is at stake for Canadians -- from Nova Scotia to the B.C. Pacific Coast to the far Arctic Circle."
This episode of the fifth estate airs on CBC on January 10, 2014.
CBC's the fifth estate, January 10, 2014 (broadcast date): "Silence of the Labs"
Most recently, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has faced the chopping block.
"I see [the closing of seven DFO regional libraries] as a national tragedy, done under the pretext of cost savings, which, when examined closely, will prove to be a false motive," Dr. Wells [an adjunct professor and senior research fellow at the International Ocean Institute at Dalhousie University in Halifax] said. "A modern democratic society should value its information resources, not reduce, or worse, trash them."
The Globe and Mail, January 8, 2014: "Purge of Canada's fisheries libraries a 'historic' loss, scientists say," by Gloria Galloway
The Tyee, January 8, 2014: "Scientists Say DFO's Library Closure Defence Doesn't Add Up," by Andrew Nikiforuk
The Government of Canada, January 7, 2014: "The facts on library consolidation at Fisheries and Oceans"
Volatile Collective Bargaining Expected in the Public Sector in 2014
"The latest edition of the Conference Board's Industrial Relations Outlook maintains that the labour movement in Canada is at a crossroads. Unions have lost bargaining power due to globalization, deregulation, the lingering effects of the recession, and a shift in the political landscape."
"Both employers and unions share a number of concerns related to fiscal restraint and greater government involvement in labour disputes."
"On a positive note, Canada should see relatively solid employment growth, and real wages are expected to increase, as they have for much of the last decade. However, the sustainability of real wage gains may be in question since productivity improvements have not kept pace with wage growth."
"Find out how senior labour and management practitioners envision labour market and collective bargaining prospects for 2014, and what unions need to do in order to survive the new reality."
The Conference Board of Canada, December 2013: "Industrial Relations Outlook 2014: Back to Basics for the Labour Movement Report" by David K. Shepherdson (44 pages, PDF)
Attack on our Public Service: Bill C4 and the Politicized Public Servant
"The unions are hoping the Supreme Court will set clear national guidelines. The Saskatchewan case that outline the right to strike in the public service."
"Kevin Banks, a former senior federal public servant and director of Queen's University's Centre for Law in the Contemporary Workplace, said provincial courts have offered wide-ranging interpretations of the right to strike. He hopes the Supreme Court will bring clarity to the issue."
"'My own view is the law in this area is extremely unclear,' he said. Mr. Banks said the Supreme Court decision will likely be far more politically significant than any challenge to the International Labour Organization, which he said Canadian governments often ignore."
The Globe and Mail, December 10, 2013: "Ottawa's omnibus bill to face legal fight from public-sector unions," by Bill Curry
"It's been a distressing and dispiriting period for the public service. The desk jockeys used to operate with a fair degree of independence. No more. Not while under the thumb of the Tories. If they were known for speaking truth to power in the past, they're known now for their padlocked jaws."
"Afraid to risk the wrath of their political bosses, they've fallen on bended knee. One of the most farcical displays of the new subservience came when they were deployed as stand-in stooges in a Conservative promotional exercise for a citizenship reaffirmation program. The media dubbed the charade "the full North Korean."
"Meaningful reform would entail something like what's been proposed by former Treasury Board executive Ralph Heintzman. What is needed, he says, is a 'moral contract,' a charter that sets well-defined boundaries between ministers, public servants and Parliament."
The Globe and Mail, January 7, 2014: "Time to renew Canada's cowed, bloated bureaucracy," by Lawrence Martin
Huffington Post, November 23, 2013: Turning Back the Clock 50 Years: Bill C-4 and federal workers
Law Times, December 2, 2013: "Focus: Dispute resolution threatened by bill C-4, critics warn," by Charlotte Santry
Law Times, November 11, 2013: "Speaker's Corner: Public sector employee protections watered down under bill C-4," by Barry Goldman and Matthew Scott
Unions are not Entirely to Blame
A letter from George Smith, Fellow, Queen's University School of Policy Studies:
"Unions in Canada are under attack and it is not without some justification. Led by Governments at the Federal and Provincial levels there has been legislation and action to limit the power of both public and private-sector unions. In some cases, the right of union members to strike has been removed or suspended."
"The rationale for this aggressive approach has been the 'public interest' and the 'economy' and many support it. But surely the very importance of economic growth and the public interest dictates a longer term view and a more inclusive approach to solving the issues."
"Before we all jump on this anti-union band wagon, we must consider the value of unions in our Canadian democracy and in our places of work."
"Don't get me wrong. I spent over thirty-five years as a management negotiator representing Corporations including Air Canada, Canadian Pacific Railway and CBC/Radio-Canada. I had many, many difficult negotiations and was often frustrated by the actions of the unions in implementing changes management felt were competitively necessary."
"In some cases collective bargaining resulted in impasse and there were costs to employees, customers and the Corporation. But ultimately the impasse 'focused' the Parties and a settlement was freely negotiated. It was sometimes messy... but democracy can be that way."
" In the best of cases the Corporation and Union realized that they had a mutual self interest and interdependence that, if properly leveraged, could result in a competitive advantage and benefit for all. The public interest and economy were served.
What is worrisome about the current approach is that very little effort is being made to find common ground and the most recent attacks including potential right-to-work laws, 'opening the books' of unions and unilateral declaration of essential services in the Public Service are clearly designed to weaken or destroy the union movement."
"The Preamble of the Canada Labour Code reads, in part: '...the Parliament of Canada desires to continue and extend its support to labour and management in their cooperative efforts to develop good labour relations and constructive collective bargaining...'"
"Since the election of the Federal Conservatives these words and the spirit of supporting labour-management co-operation have all but been ignored. Labour relations have been de-stabilized and politicized by continual government intervention.
Where tripartite debate and consultation between labour, management and government used to be the norm, unilateral government action and legislation have become common place."
"Unions are not the sole source of problems with the economy. Unions cannot be blamed for accepting what they have freely negotiated with employers, including governments. Unions should continue to have the right to re-negotiate wages and benefits, including the right to strike, if agreement is not immediately possible."
"At the same time unions must address the approach and content of their contribution to Canadian workplaces."
"Clearly unions must change their image. Union leaders need to 'stop shouting' and contribute to intelligent, thoughtful debate. Union leaders need to emphasize the 'value-add' that they bring to workplaces especially in areas of joint interest including; knowledge of operations, health and safety, training, social responsibility and customer service. Their strike weapon must be used judiciously."
"I have worked with unions who knew the business and embraced the opportunity to contribute to the strategy of the organization. Management didn't always agree with their input but the union/employee voice was a useful one. This is what Government should be supporting, including in the Public Service."
"As for the economics, it has been proven that Canadian employment standards and labour laws are not a competitive disadvantage. We should be very cautious in weakening them. Surely the concern for the vanishing middle-class and the growing disparity between the "haves" and the "have-nots" serve to reinforce this."
"Whether you support unions or not, they have provided an important voice for workers, fair due process, a decent standard of living, and, a social responsibility that have contributed to our Canadian democratic society."
"Before we allow Governments to legislate further restrictions on union powers we should ask a simple question: Who benefits from the constraint, or even elimination, of unions? As you answer the question consider what kind of Canada we want for our children and grandchildren."
" My Canada includes unions..."
George Smith, Fellow, Queen's University School of Policy Studies
Public Perception of Labour Unions -- United States and Canada
"The Field Poll last asked Californians their views of labor unions two and one-half years ago in March 2011. At that time, 46% of voters felt that labor unions overall did more good than harm, while 35% said they did more harm than good."
"The Poll's latest survey finds the proportion of voters believing unions do more harm than good has increased ten points, from 35% to 45%, while those believing unions do more good than harm has declined six points from 46% to 40%. Thus, there has been a net sixteen-point swing in voter sentiment from the positive to negative side over this period."
The Field Poll, December 2013: "California voters taking more negative view of labor unions. Bay area voters support a ban on public transit workers' right to strike, while voters statewide are divided," by Mark DiCamillo and Mervin Field
Slate, June 16, 2012: "Labor Unions and Public Opinion," by Matthew Yglesias
The Globe and Mail, August 31, 2013: "State of the unions: can the labour movement make a comeback?," by Rod Mickleburgh
LabourWatch (Canada), August 2011: "State of the Unions 2011" (27 pages, PDF)
On the Homefront: Assessing the Well-being of Canada's Military Families in the New Millennium
"The notion of risk, including the possibility of permanent injury, illness or even death, is accepted as a central tenet of the profession of arms. Contrary to popular belief, this risk is not limited to far-flung missions. Preparing for combat operations requires intensive, realistic simulation, employed in all types of environments, conditions and scenarios, pushing individuals to their physical and mental limits. This can be a perilous combination, and training injuries and deaths do occur despite the many precautions and safety measures put in place."
"In isolation, none of these three characteristics is unique to CF members and their families. When combined, the distinctiveness of the military career becomes more obvious. Few occupations or professions expose the overwhelming majority of its people to recurring geographic relocation, relentless separation and elevated levels of risk as a matter of course throughout much of their careers."
National Defence and Canadian Forces Ombudsman, November 2013: "On the Homefront: Assessing the Well-being of Canada's Military Families in the New Millennium"
And in the United States...
"Among his specific recommendations, he proposes that the VA develop and share mental health care data, pursue a portfolio approach that invests in the most promising care models, develop a wraparound information environment that integrates with the private and philanthropic sectors, build a human capital pipeline of mental health care personnel, and invest in emerging technologies, such as telemedicine. The additional investment is essential, says Mr. Carter, as "those receiving treatment do better in managing their post-traumatic stress or traumatic brain injury and are less likely to commit suicide."
Centre for New American Security, November 5, 2013: "Expand Mental Health Care for Veterans Says CNAS Scholar in New Report" (2 pages, PDF)
Centre for New American Security, November 5, 2013: "Expanding the Net: Building Mental Health Care Capacity for Veterans," by Phillip Carter (13 pages, PDF)
A Unanimous Supreme Court of Canada Strikes Down Prostitution Laws
"The court's willingness to spend its political capital on the protection of prostitutes, by striking down laws with roots that go back decades, and even to pre-Confederation days, sends an unmistakable message to the Conservative government: Any new laws would have to "take seriously the safety concerns of people who are engaged in sex work," said Elaine Craig, a law professor at Dalhousie University."
The Globe and Mail, December 20, 2013: "Reach of unanimous ruling extends beyond prostitution issue," by Sean Fine
"Here's a look at [one example of] how prostitution laws related to one of the world's oldest professions differ considerably around the world..."
"The Dutch legalized prostitution in the mid-1800s but it wasn't until the 1980s that sex work was recognized as a legal profession."
"Bans on brothels and pimping were lifted in October 2000 and the industry is now regulated by labour law. Prostitutes are registered workers. Municipalities are responsible for issuing licences and conducting inspections to ensure quality standard working conditions."
"Though it's legal to employ prostitutes over the age of consent, all forms of exploitation in the prostitution industry, including trafficking and forced prostitution, are criminal under the Dutch Penal Code."
Read about other countries here.
Global News, December 20, 2013: "Prostitution laws around the world"
Treating Sex Work as Work
"This month at Cato Unbound, we will debate a very controversial subject -- prostitution and related activities, collectively known as sex work. Our lead essayist, a pseudonmymous former call girl and madam known as Maggie McNeill, advocates treating sex work simply as work: Like many other professions, it has its risks and rewards, and -- also like many other professions -- when you make it illegal, a black market will emerge. McNeill argues that prostitution is not inherently exploitative, and that much of the danger to sex workers arises precisely from the legal regimes that govern the oldest profession, and the violence inherent to all black markets."
"Is she right? Fortunately, the question is to a great degree an empirical one, and we can review the practical consequences of a variety of legal approaches. We have invited three other experts in the field, each of varying viewpoints: Ronald Weitzer is a sociologist at the George Washington University; Dianne Post is an international legal advocate who works on gender-based violence; and Steven Wagner is the president of Renewal Forum, a nonprofit opposed to human trafficking."
Lead Essay -- "Sex work is ubiquitous. Where a substantial demand exists, some people will inevitably try to meet that demand for a price. Retired call girl and madam Maggie McNeill reviews the various legal regimes that have been set up to regulate and/or prohibit sex work. She concludes that many approaches, particularly the most restrictive ones, increase the likelihood of harm to all participants. They tend to infantalize women and invest law enforcement with arbitrary and dangerous powers. She argues that the best approach is a regime of simple legalization, without licensing or heavy restrictions."
Treating Sex Work as Work by Maggie McNeill
Response Essays --
Prostitution as a Legal Institution by Ronald Weitzer
Prostitution Cannot Be Squared with Human Rights or the Equality of Women by Dianne Post
Prostitution is Exploitation by Steven Wagner
The 'Nordic model' of Prostitution Law is a Myth
"The 'Nordic model' of prostitution policy has often been presented as a success in decreasing the number of women in visible prostitution and in promoting a feminist perspective. May-Len Skilbreiand Charlotta Holmstrom carefully examine the different policy approaches among Nordic countries and argue that, in reality, there is no such a thing as a 'Nordic model of prostitution policy'. Further they find that the evidence of policy impact is limited and unconvincing."
The London School of Economics and Political Science, January 3, 2014: "The 'Nordic model' of Prostitution Law is a Myth"
"In truth, while these laws have attracted flattering attention internationally, the politics and practices associated with them are very complex. In particular, they are sometimes applied in conjunction with other laws, by-laws and practices specifically aimed at pinning the blame for prostitution on people who sell sex, particularly if they are migrants. For these and other reasons, the Nordic countries' approaches must be judged with caution -- and none more so than the most popular example, the case of Sweden."
The Conversation, December 16, 2013: "The 'Nordic model' of Prostitution Law is a Myth," by May-Len Skilbrei, Associate Professor at University of Oslo and Charlotta Holmstrom, Assistant Professor at Malmo University
Merit-based Pay and Employee Motivation in Federal Agencies
"This paper analyzes findings from the federal government that federal employees subject to merit-based pay are consistently less happy with their job, with their organization, and with their pay than those in agencies with traditional compensation systems. Such employees are most negative about their own organization."
"This leads to questions about the long-term effects of merit-based pay systems in public organizations. Despite efforts over more than three decades, there are very few signs of desirable outcomes from merit-based pay in government. It is time to reconsider the effectiveness of merit-based pay in the public sector."
Brookings, November 17, 2013: "Merit-based Pay and Employee Motivation in Federal Agencies," by Sungjoo Choi and Andrew B. Whitford
The Do's and Don'ts of Hiring
From the introduction:
"By the interviewing stage, the employer has already obtained much of the applicant's relevant job-related information from the employment application and the candidate's resume. Most employers, however, want to and are well advised to supplement the application process with at least one interview in order to determine if the applicant has the appropriate qualifications and will be compatible with other employees in the company. Meeting the potential candidate in person provides the employer with the opportunity to assess his or her suitability for the particular position."
"While it is important for employers to be able to ask a number of questions during the interviewing stage, employers should be aware of the many issues that could arise and result in violations of their statutory and common law obligations."
"This paper will focus on some of those important issues relating to: privacy law, the Ontario Human Rights Code, negligent misrepresentation, inducement of candidates during the interview process and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and its Regulations."
Blaney McMurtry, December 5, 2013: "Critical Issues in the Hiring Process: The Do's and Don'ts of Hiring," by Elizabeth Forster and Maria Kotsopoulos
View the PDF version here (17 pages).
Social Media Risks and Rewards
"For most companies, opting out of the social media world is no longer feasible. Financial Executives Research Foundation Inc. (FERF), in collaboration with Grant Thornton LLP, developed a 32-question online survey and conducted in-depth interviews to produce this report, titled Social media risks and rewards."
"The survey was conducted during May and June 2013, and was completed by 111 senior-level executives from public and private companies. The interviews involved eight questions and were conducted during June 2013. The information contained in this report is derived from insights gathered during the online survey and the in-depth interviews."
Grant Thornton, Press Release, September 27, 2013: "Social media risks and rewards"
Financial Executives Research Foundation & Grant Thornton LLP, September 2013: "Social media risks and rewards," by Jan Hertzberg and Mark Sullivan (24 pages, PDF)
MITs DataViva: Making Data Visible
"'There's a lot of effort to make data public, but there's very little effort that I know of in governance to make the data visible,' [director Andre Barrence] says."
"For instance, the U.S.'s data.gov largely leaves the visualization up to private developers. The city of New York does offer some visualization capabilities for its open data, but the feature isn't easy to use, nor does it offer as many different types of visualization."
"'There's not a lot of value for data without the right visualization,' Barrence says."
"Visualizing the Economy of Minas Gerais and Brazil: DataViva is opening up data for the entire formal sector of the Brazilian economy through more than 100 million interactive visualizations."
FastCompany Design, December 5, 2013: "New MIT Media Lab Tool Lets Anyone Visualize Unwieldy Government Data"
"DataViva is opening up data for the entire formal sector of the Brazilian economy through more than 100 million interactive visualizations."
DataViva, December 2013: "Visualizing the Economy of Minas Gerais and Brazil"
BostInno, December 6, 2013: "MIT Media Lab Makes Government Data Digestible for the Average Person," by Lauren Landry
Occupations in Big Data and Who's Big in Big Data
"Simon Sheather, head of the Department of Statistics at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, is looking through row after row of airfare data -- nearly 8 million of them. But he isn't planning a vacation. He's using the huge dataset to create a model that predicts ticket prices to help customers save money, based on the route they fly."
"The increased amount of data in the world has created many opportunities for the kind of analysis Sheather does. Recent advances in technology, such as e-commerce, smart phones, and social networking, are generating new types of data on a scale never seen before -- a phenomenon known as "big data." According to some data experts, 90 percent of the data that exists in the world today was created in the last 2 years. And society increasingly relies on data to tell us things about the world."
"This year, 2013, is The International Year of Statistics. It's a designation intended to highlight the role that data and statistical analysis have in society. To further that goal, this article describes work with big data. The first section outlines what big data is. The second section provides an overview of big data work. The third section explains some of the challenges that big data work entails. The fourth section describes how to prepare for this work. Sources of information are provided at the end."
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Quarterly, Fall 2013: "Working with Big Data," by Sara Royster (10 pages, PDF)
"As it often happens with new concepts causing great impact on the current paradigms used for dealing with today's problems, Big Data has become one of these fashionable terms that everybody loves talking about, but few would agree on a unique and concise definition of its actual meaning. Many companies claim they are into Big Data, but what are they actually doing? In this post we use Treparel KMX text analytics software to analyze and visualize the activities of Big Data-related companies based on information from the CrunchBase and IFI Claims databases."
Treparel, November 2013: "Who's Big in Data"
Internet Monitor 2013: Reflections on the Digital World on H2O
"The Internet Monitor's first-ever annual report is a collection of of essays from roughly two dozen experts around the world, including Bruce Schneier, Ashkan Soltani, Ron Deibert, Molly Sauter, Zeynep Tufekci, and Viktor Mayer-Schonberger, among others. Intended for a general interest audience, the report highlights some of the most fascinating developments and debates in the digitally networked environment over the past year."
"A common thread explores how actors within government, industry, and civil society are wrestling with the changing power dynamics of the digital realm."
Berkman Centre for Internet & Society, Harvard University, December 11, 2013: "Internet Monitor 2013: Reflections on the Digital World"
· Download individual chapters (PDF):
Book of the Week
Multinational Human Resource Management and the Law: Common Workplace Problems in Different Legal Environments, by Matthew W. Finkin, Joel Cutcher-Gershenfeld ; with Takashi Araki ... [et al.]. Cheltenham : Edward Elgar Pub., 2013. 435 p. ISBN 9781781004111 (hardcover)
From the publisher: "Multinational corporations face considerable complexity in setting the terms and conditions of employment. Differing national laws prevent firms from developing consistent sets of employment policies, but, at the same time, employees are often expected to work closely with colleagues located in many different countries and seek comparable treatment. This critical volume offers a comprehensive analysis of how these contradictory issues are dealt with in five countries -- Australia, Brazil, Germany, Japan and the United States."
Visit the Recent Books at the CIRHR Library blog.
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