NEWS: NDP succeeds in pushing forward motion to protect textile workers

OTTAWA – An NDP motion calling on the Conservative government to contain the dramatic growth of clothing imports from China passed the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade today. The motion was tabled by Peter Julian, NDP International Trade Critic and will go on to the House of Commons. The motion would protect workers who have been badly hurt by a flood of clothing imports from China.

The motion reads as follows:
The Committee calls on the Government of Canada to stem the current market disruption, in specific categories, in the Canadian apparel industry, by immediately invoking Article 242 of China's accession protocol to the WTO and putting in place restrictions or safeguards on the growth of specific categories of apparel imports from China; and The Committee further calls on the Government of Canada to begin bilateral negotiations with China, similar to those undertaken by the United States and the European Union, to reach an agreement on imports of clothing and textiles.

“Almost 50,000 workers employed in the apparel industry have lost their jobs in the last three and half years and the government has the tools that can be used to protect those jobs,” said Julian.

The safeguards envisioned by the motion would cap the growth of the quantity of clothing imports that can come into Canada and in such a way would protect substantially jobs that are at risk of being lost over the next months.

“We have to put in place those measures that are permitted to us already under World Trade Organization rules. Similar measures have been taken by the European Union and the United States and it makes no sense that the Conservatives would repudiate the promises that they made last January to protect these clothing workers. We believe in stronger bilateral links but certain protections must be negotiated with China,” said Julian.

Peter worked in collaboration with UNITE-HERE on the issue. The combined Union of Needle trades, Industrial and Textiles Employees/Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union, represents nearly 48,000 Canadian garment workers. The workers have been pushing the federal government to seek solutions to stop the bleeding of Canadian manufacturing jobs and protect the Canadian apparel industry from continued surging imports from China.

NEWS: NDP, Canadian marine workers and shipowners call for sustainable national marine policy

Towards a Green Transportation Future

OTTAWA — Today, NDP Transport Critic Peter Julian (Burnaby-New Westminster), Peter Lahay, National Coordinator International Transport Workers Federation-Canada, Albert LeMonnier, Second Vice-President, International Longshore & Warehouse Union-Canada, Captain David Badior, B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers’ Union, Lawrence Dempsey, National President, Canadian Merchant Service Guild and Wilfred Vacheresse, International Shipowners Alliance of Canada are calling for a new, inclusive and sustainable national marine policy.

In 2004, behind closed doors, Transport Canada and the shipping industry joined hands to found the National Marine Industrial Council. The group, which includes five Deputy Ministers from senior departments, receives federal money to lobby the very government that funds it. Canadian marine workers are concerned that the federal government is negotiating a new transportation policy that runs directly contrary to Canada's interests without consulting stakeholders in the labour and environment movements.

“The federal government must move towards a sustainable, fully accessible national transportation system with the highest safety standards for workers. These critical decisions cannot be left in the hands of unaccountable entities such as the National Marine Council,” said Julian. “Clearly the Standing Committee on Transportation should take a closer look at this serious and complex situation.”

Unchecked, the council's program has the potential to strip bare the regulations that govern and protect Canadian shipping standards, to gut the Canadian Coast Guard, to expose the environment to risk and to exploit foreign workers on vessels in Canadian waters. In BC alone, 20,000 jobs are on the line.

Labour representatives have been knocking for more than a year on the Transport Minister's door, seeking a more transparent and inclusive process to address the challenges and opportunities facing our country — only to be sidelined and ignored.

Canada stands at a crossroads as a maritime nation, faced with critical decisions on balancing its burgeoning global trade, its national competitive position and its environment. The decisions it makes will affect the quality of life of citizens from coast to coast to coast.

With forecasts of massive growth in foreign trade, Canadian marine workers see a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to green our transportation network. They see a chance to use growth to build an environmentally and socially sustainable transportation policy that offers lasting opportunities to all workers, including our First Nations peoples and to communities along our fast-growing trade corridors.

Labour representatives are calling upon the federal government to recognize and allow the participation of all Canadians who have a stake in the transportation debate.