Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sunday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Lana Payne juxtaposes massive profits and public concessions for Caterpillar and Rio Tinto against their attacks on Canadian workers:
(T)he demands by ElectroMotive, a subsidiary of equipment giant Caterpillar, are about as outrageous as they get, including a 50 per cent cut in pay.

These demands are coming at the same time as the corporation's revenues are projected to be about $44 billion for 2011, including billions in profits.

Certainly the CEO of Caterpillar is not hurting for a buck. And neither is the retiring boss.

In 2010, Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman's compensation totaled about $10.4 million, according to an Associated Press review. Jim Owens, his predecessor, raked in $22.5 million in 2010 because of an extremely generous stock grant of about $16 million.
In Quebec, Rio Tinto (one of the world's largest mining corporations) locked out about 800 Alcan smelter workers. The corporation is also demanding major concessions, including cuts in pensions from its workforce.

The chief executive at Rio Tinto earned nearly $9 million in 2010, a 32 per cent pay raise over the previous year. That year, the company had profits of over $14 billion.
It's bad enough that workers are expected to pay the price of the financial crisis and subsequent recession - a recession they didn't cause. It's bad enough that in tough economic times workers are told to hold the line.

But now, even in the face of stunning corporate profits, even in the face of incredible corporate cash hoarding, even in the face of obscene CEO pay and billions in corporate tax cuts and credits, the living standards of workers are still under attack.

Is it any wonder these workers are angry? Make no mistake, eventually this kind of lewd corporate gluttony and the arrogant indifference of governments to it will come home to roost. It is only a matter of time.
- Kathryn May reports on the Cons' move to shutter public language training for civil servants. But it's worth taking a closer look at what's being done:
The federal government is getting out of the business of providing language training to its employees, throwing 179 teachers and instructors across Canada out of work.

The move - which started with downsizing in the 1990s, and intensified after a 2006 Treasury Board decision - marks the first time in decades that the government won't be directly offering French and English training to public servants to meet the language requirements of their jobs.
Until now, departments have had the option of using private schools or the Canada School of the Public Service, which charged fees, to train their workers.
In other words, departments have previously had a choice whether to use private or public training providers based on which actually provides better value for money. And the Cons have decided instead to make sure that the training money flows into the private sector to facilitate corporate profiteering - even where it wouldn't have been the better option if departments had a choice.

- But don't worry: public servants in Con ridings may yet stand a chance.

- Paul Krugman highlights the growing inequality which corporatists on both sides of the U.S. border want to avoid discussing.

- Buckley Belanger raises concerns that an industry-monitored environmental code may lead to serious damage without Saskatchewan's government having a clue what's going on.

- Finally, La Presse reports on the petition demanding that Lise St-Denis step down and face a by-election after her defection to the Libs. But in fairness, the new petition has a ways to go before matching the last similar effort.

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