September 08, 2008

For the Week of September 8, 2008

Lancaster's Canadian Labour Board Conference

This Friday, September 12, is the early bird deadline to register for Lancaster's Canadian Labour Board Conference. The Conference returns this year with a new format which examines collective bargaining law and labour boards in light of increasing global pressures, and in the context of international labour law. Perennial favourites like the major case law and legislative update will be joined by new panels, including an interactive debate over contentious legal issues, discussions about the significance of labour law scholarship and international labour standards, with speakers from McGill, Queen's University and Osgoode Hall Law School, and a look at the effect of the landmark decision of the Supreme Court of Canada on freedom of association and collective bargaining.

Conference details and registration information


Labour Day Messages

Lean and Mean Has Gone Too Far, Buzz Hargrove, outgoing President of CAW, August 28, 2008

The theme of this year’s Labour Day celebrations is “Equality! Once and For All! Ken Georgetti, President of the Canadian Labour Congress, August 28, 2008


CAW Convention Delegates Elect Ken Lewenza New National President

Delegates representing CAW members from across Canada elected Ken Lewenza as the new national president to lead the country’s largest private sector union. Lewenza, former CAW Local 444 president and former CAW Council president, replaces Buzz Hargrove, who served 16 years as CAW president.

CAW News, September 8, 2008


Quebec Wal-Mart Workers Unionize

UFCW Canada members of a Wal-Mart location in Gatineau, Quebec have made history by becoming the only Wal-Mart workers in North America to have a union contract, after a Quebec arbitrator imposed a collective agreement on August 15th. The UFCW Canada Local 486 bargaining unit at the Wal-Mart Tire and Lube Express was certified in 2005. The collective agreement was the result of binding arbitration, following almost three years of legal delays and stalled negotiations with the company. The agreement affects nine employees.

The Gazette (Montreal) August 15, 2008

CBC News, August 15, 2008

Doorey’s Workplace Law Blog has a link to the award and commentary.


Canada’s Working Poor and The New Poverty Agenda

The September 2008 issue of Policy Options features seven articles on Canada’s working poor. Articles available for downloading include: "Is welfare a dirty word? Canadian public opinion on social assistance policies" by Allison Harell, Stuart Soroka and Adam Mahon; “Canada's legacy of inaction on early childhood education and child care" by Martha Friendly; “How (un)healthy are poor working-age Canadians?" by Myriam Fortin, senior researcher with Human Resources and Social Development Canada.

Gordon Betcherman, a Canadian economist and World Bank expert on labor standards and social protection, spoke at the recent conference hosted by Queen’s University International Institute for Social Policy. The conference titled, The New Poverty Agenda: Reshaping Policies in the 21st Century was held August 18-20, 2008 and featured an international list of speakers. Betcherman spoke on how “flexicurity” was effective in cutting social spending and increasing employment but not in reducing poverty.

Policy Options, Institute for Research on Public Policy, September 2008

The New Poverty Agenda: Reshaping Policies in the 21st Century links to presentations available on website

Toronto Star, August 29, 2008, “Troubling new political buzzword” by Carol Goar.


Work-life Balance of Shift Workers

More than a quarter of employed Canadians work something other than a regular daytime schedule—regular evenings or nights, rotating or split shifts, casual or on-call jobs or irregular shifts. The Statistics Canada publication,Perspectives on Labour and Income, examines shift work in the August 2008 issue. The article focuses on shift work among full-time workers aged 19 to 64 and looks at where and among whom it is most prevalent. Work-life balance, role overload and other indicators of well-being are also examined.

Article, August 2008 (12 pages PDF)



Unionization in Canada

Perspectives on Labour and Income looks at unionization in the August 2008 issue. Subjects covered are unionization rates in 2007 and 2008, annual averages for 2007, the differences between the sexes in unionization rates, the differences in average earnings and usual hours between the unionized and non-unionized. Also included is a summary table that looks at wage settlements, inflation and labour disputes, 1980-2008.

Article, August 2008 (10 pages, PDF)


Supporting and Engaging Older Workers in the New Economy – Report by the Expert Panel on Older Workers

This report is based upon a study of older workers conducted in 2007 by the Expert Panel on Older Workers, established by Human Resources and Social Development Canada. The report examines how older workers are positioned within the broad labour market, the impact of an aging population on Canada's economy and labour force, barriers to participation in the labour market, and the circumstances of displaced older workers and their labour market prospects.

Report, July 2008 (110 pages, PDF)

Report , July 2008 (html)

Executive Summary


Advancing Women Leaders

A recent report from Catalyst, titled Advancing Women Leaders: The Connection Between Women Board Directors and Women Corporate Officer, shows that the number of women on a company’s board of directors impacts the future of women in its senior leadership. This is significant because earlier Catalyst findings show that Fortune 500 companies with the highest representation of women board directors and women corporate officers, on average, achieve higher financial performance than those with the lowest. The numbers tell the story—a gender-diverse board promotes continued success for women and for business.

Research Report, July 2008 (16 pages, PDF)


Study Finds Fee Disclosure Policy Needed For Defined Contribution Pension Plans

A new research paper from the Rotman International Centre for Pension Management finds that a standardized international policy on fee disclosure would help pension plan participants become better informed consumers of Defined Contribution (DC) plan investment and administrative services. Each year participants in DC pension plans around the world pay billions of dollars in fees. Taking into account the insights from behavioral economics, the study, “Fee Disclosure to Pension Participants: Establishing Minimum Requirements” proposes a standardized fee disclosure model which is used to assess the effectiveness of current disclosure requirements in Australia, Canada, Chile, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Research paper (61 pages, PDF) August 2008.


Key Economic and Labour Force Issues Facing Canada’s Manufacturing Sector

This Conference Board of Canada report looks at the challenges facing Canada’s manufacturing sector and its labour force, to determine what the sector must do to remain productive and competitive. The sector faces human resource challenges, including early retirements, a below-average level of workforce education, a reduced ability to attract young workers, and changing skill requirements. The sector will need to make better use of its existing workforce through increased training to enhance skills, and more flexible work arrangements.

Report, June 2008 (28 pages, PDF) You must type Key Economic and Labour Force Issues in the search box on the left to find this paper - available to U of T email addresses only once you have created a Conference Board of Canada e-Library account .


Canadian Manufacturers Say Impact of NAFTA is Positive

The majority of Canadian manufacturers responding to a new Deloitte survey paint a positive picture of their experiences with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Yet they struggle to remain competitive globally as the lack of competitiveness of production activity in Canada remains the industry’s Achilles heel. The survey, titled Made in North America, targeted top-tier executives of North American manufacturing companies representing a wide range of industries.

Survey, June 18, 2008 (24 pages, PDF)

Press release


The State of Working America

The 11th edition of The State of Working America 2008/2009 was released by the Economic Policy Institute just before Labor Day. The publication scrutinizes family incomes, jobs, wages, unemployment, wealth, poverty, and health care coverage, describing the American economy's effect on the nation's standard of living. Selected chapters are available for downloading at the website.

The State of Working America 2008/2009 website


Mercers’ Worldwide Cost of Living survey 2008 – City ranking

Moscow is the world’s most expensive city for expatriates for the third consecutive year, according to the latest Cost of Living Survey from Mercer. Tokyo moved to second position and London dropped to third place. Toronto, in 54th place -- up 28 places from last year, is the most expensive Canadian city for expatriates. All other Canadian cities in the survey have experienced similar rises, with Vancouver moving from 89th to 64th, Calgary from 92nd to 66th and Montréal from 98th to 72nd. This reverses last year’s trend which saw Canadian cities decline, and places them back where they have traditionally been rated. The Canadian dollar which has appreciated nearly 15% against the US dollar is the main reason for these movements.

Survey results – City ranking, July 24, 2008.


Book of the Week

Rethinking the Future of Work: Directions and Visions, by Colin C. Williams. Houndmills, U.K.: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007. 343 p. ISBN 978-1-4039-9371-7 (pbk.)

This book challenges many of the ideas we have about the future of work. It provides an overview and examination of the array of competing visions and tries to rethink the direction of change.


About the Author: Colin C. Williams is Professor of Strategic Management in the School of Management at the University of Sheffield.


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Editor: Vicki Skelton
Designer: Nick Strupat

Copyright © 2008 Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources, University of Toronto. All rights reserved.

Date posted: 
Monday, September 8, 2008