CAW's Lewenza expects 2013 to be a tough year for labour
Union president Ken Lewenza says companies confident about pushing for dramatic concessions
The Canadian Press
Posted: Jan 2, 2013 9:07 AM ET
Last Updated: Jan 2, 2013 2:55 PM ET
The head of the Canadian Auto Workers union expects 2013 to be another tough year for the labour movement across the country.
The last year saw big labour take a beating amid a sluggish economy as manufacturing companies closed and the CAW union was forced to accept lower starting wages for workers in auto plants.
CAW president Ken Lewenza says he hasn't seen companies so confident about pushing for dramatic concessions from unions in nearly 40 years.
He points out that, in the manufacturing sector, corporations have made so many demands from unions it's almost unconscionable.
Lewenza says that, in addition to cutting wages and benefits, companies are routinely seeking changes to pension plans and two-tier wages for new hires.
The big labour boss hopes the formation of Canada's largest private sector union through the merger of the CAW and the Communication, Energy and Paperworkers will strengthen the voice of workers.
Carleton University business professor Ian Lee says workers will face ever growing pressure because of globalization, a strong loonie, a slow-growing economy.
He also points to competition from neighbouring right to work states, including Michigan.
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