Toronto, Ontario – A surge in part-time employment is no cause for celebration, warns the president of the Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW). Ken Lewenza voiced his concern over a report from Statistics Canada that found that in November, Canada lost 11,500 full-time jobs but gained 26,700 part-time jobs.
“Workers must be able to realize their goal of having a full-time job, a job you can raise your kids on and later retire from in dignity,” Lewenza said in his address to CAW Council. He noted that among the sectors represented by the union, there has been significant job loss over the last number of years, but the union has been determined in its defense of workers even after they lose their jobs.
Lewenza noted that the mass job loss, both leading up to the recession and since, has put a major strain on provincial budgets. In turn, the provinces have put pressure on public sector workers to freeze wages while failing to guarantee services or employment.
In terms of the auto industry, Lewenza noted that politics played an important role in the preservation of the country’s industry. “It has been proven without a doubt that the infusion of support for the auto industry was critical for the auto industry and maintaining these jobs,” he said.
The union also noted important signs of hope in the industry, one of them being that General Motors’ CAMI facility in Ingersoll, Ontario is now fully utilized in production of the Terrain and Equinox.
In October, the CAW organized a Day of Action in the auto parts sector, which Lewenza called a “proud moment in the union.” He noted that the auto parts sector is one of the oldest groups in the union and has faced “incredible pressure” over the last few years as employers pit one plant against another to stay open. The Day of Action, raised during an April conference of the auto parts leadership, culminated in a series of lunchtime demonstrations at 100 different auto parts facilities.
Lewenza also mentioned a stagnant situation at International Truck in Chatham, Ontario, which has been shuttered for approximately 17 months after negotiations broke down when the employer threatened to reduce the workforce from 700 to 100 members and send the truck work elsewhere. The CAW chief said that the union is no closer to an agreement than it was in the beginning.