Wonderful morning out there, rather ‘nippy’ if you catch my drift! It’s kind of funny how I cringe and freeze when the rain and wind are here, but now that it is sub-zero and bright, I love it! Different kind of cold, I guess, but I’ll take this over the rain any day.
First up this morning, is an update on the HandyDART strike. Yes, the union and the company are returning to the bargaining table on Thursday, but many employees have contacted me with some unsettling questions surrounding the” pension” deductions the company had been taking off of their cheques. This excerpt from one employee email sums it up:
I work for HandyDart in Vancouver, and as you know we are currently on strike.
A couple of days ago John Siragusa said on the air( on CBC) that the union knew from the beginning that the pension was not on the table. This is a BALD FACED LIE.
We have a memorandum of understanding( MOU) signed by MV in late 2008 that they will honour previously existing contracts and will register for the MPP( municipal pension plan). When they did register for the MPP they asked for a temporary membership. MPP informed them that there is no such thing and invited them to apply for the usual membership.
MVT did not do that.
They told us that the deductions coming off our cheques were being put in a trust account, but until recently refused to tell us the financial institution holding the funds. They recently sent information to the executive which showed that low interest GIC’s had been purchased on NOVEMBER 6, 2009! ( There was no accounting sent as to what this money has been doing, since the date deductions were being made-the statement only shows an opening balance as of October 2009 – l.y.)
Where has our money been between Jan 01 and Oct 01, 2009 ? What has happened to the interest that would have been earned during that period of time?
I also received this set of documents in questions from an anonymous source, and it states that the trustee for the funds is a numbered company- 0843627 BC Ltd. The funds deposited were not put into interest bearing investments right away because the MOU did not contemplate that this should be done. Interestingly enough, those funds were put into one year GIC’s in a series of transactions starting November 6th of this year! The letter also states that an amount will be deposited equally the interest these funds would have earned had an investment been initially done.
I have also come across a blog that has a number of allegations regarding the company that bear some investigation: http://joanarque.wordpress.com/2009/12/06/shady-behaviour/
My hope is that for these workers, the issues before them can be worked out with the company on an equitable basis. It still tastes bad to me, however, that we continually seem to see American companies being contracted to more often in British Columbia. One would think part of keeping BC strong, would be to keep the money in BC.
Onto another labour dispute – it looks like gravel truck drivers will wait until after Christmas to decide what action to take in order to deal with the ever dropping gravel hauling rates that owner-operators are facing. Teamsters president Don McGill says it looks like nothing short of an industry wide shutdown will be needed to rectify the situation, which is having a huge impact on truck safety as owners try to save money on maintenance just so they can stay in business. The dispute is the result of Port Mann Bridge contractor, Peter Kiewit and Sons, cutting the current rates they are paying gravel truck operators, from previously established higher ones. Stay posted in the New Year, as we could see construction grind to a halt on the Port Mann project.
Well here’s funny twist on things…. The BC government issued a press release last week (FRIDAY, by the way) because 4 of the provinces P-3 projects have been given national awards from the Canadian Council for Public Private partnerships.
Which projects got the kiss of approval? The Sea to Sky Highway, The Canada Line, The Golden Ears Bridge, and the Royal Jubilee Hospital Patient Care centre. *Click on those links for a good read on those projects…. ; )
So,curious as ever to see who this ‘council’ is composed of, I clicked on the About Us link, and guess whose smiley face is the first thing I see?
Gordon Campbell. Yes, our honourable premier is the Honourary Chair. (Quite the profile…) But wait, it gets better. The board of directors,executive and members lists contain a veritable who’s who of Liberal business partners and contractors….which kinda-sorta-makes it look like all the people involved on the 4 winning projects just gave themselves a big award…
Now,isn’t that just grand? Good grief.