2012: The Year of Labour Unrest

We are only half way into the first week of 2012 and already the signs are that this could be a restive year between workers and their bosses. Today, the face-off between unions and management.

Part One of The Current


It's Wednesday, January 4th.

According to a recent poll, a majority of Canadians said that despite everything ... they had a pretty good 2011.

Currently, there's no word on whether that majority is the one that sits in the House of Commons.

This is The Current.

2012 - The Year of Labour Unrest

We started this segment with a clip from Charles McKenny outside heavy machinery giant Caterpillar's Electro-Motive plant in London, Ontario. He is one of 450 union workers facing the bitter cold after being locked out following a messy contract dispute. Yesterday, they were out walking a very snowy picket line.

London is just one Canadian city facing labour tensions. In Alma, Quebec, Rio Tinto Alcan opened 2012 by locking out about 800 employees after three months of failed contract talks. And last year was no picnic for unionized workers, either. The federal government waded into disputes at Air Canada and Canada Post.

The unions involved called the intrusions by Ottawa as corrosive to collective bargaining and the rights of workers. And now, the Conference Board of Canada forecasts more rising distrust between unions and employers, particularly in the public sector as debt-ridden governments try to rein in costs.

Charlotte Yates is watching everything unfold. She is the Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at McMaster University and a labour relations expert. She was in Hamilton.

2012 - The Year of Labour Unrest

For more on what lies ahead for labour relations in 2012, we were joined by Ken Lewenza, the president of the Canadian Auto Workers union. He was in Windsor, Ontario. And John Manley is Canada's former Liberal Finance, Industry and Foreign Affairs Minister. He's now the president of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, and he joined us from our Ottawa studio.

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