Winning Over Winnipeg Workers

Here’s an inspiring piece of one entrepreneur in Winnipeg who saw a labour shortage and a surplus of people and put the two together. He, with the help of the government, created a program to train unemployed and young Canadian First Nation people to be able to work at his company. That might not sound extraordinary, but apparently this went against convention and shocked a lot of others in the field.

During a labour crunch four years ago, Mr. Saulnier felt the familiar pressure to hire workers from abroad. Some tycoons in the industrial construction business even took him aside and told him he could only win bids on massive infrastructure jobs if he had a large and secure labour pool. And the only way to assure that – at least as conventional thinking goes – was to launch an overseas recruitment program.

But Mr. Saulnier isn’t exactly conventional. He saw an untapped source of labour much closer to home.

“I grew up in a small Northern Ontario town where I was surrounded by first nations communities, where there were very good men and women who are just wishing for a job,” he explained in an interview. “Against the advice of business advisers and industry colleagues, we decided to seek them out.”

Keep reading at the Globe and Mail.

Thanks to Greg!

Workers Who Bike to Work Get Sick Less

Of course biking and other physical activity is a healthy thing, and that’s obviously good. What’s really good now is that there are now economic reasons for employers to encourage their employees to commute on a bicycle. The Dutch (no surprise there) love their bikes so much they did an economic study on how much money can be saved by companies that have employees bike to work: 27 million Euros (PDF link).

Main conclusions
• Employees who cycle regularly to work have less sickness-related
absenteeism than non-cyclists.
• The higher the frequency and longer the distance cycled, the lower the
rate of absenteeism.
• The potential benefit of cycling to work is considerable. It could mean
annual savings of around 27 million euros.

Recommendations
• More government measures to promote cycling and cooperation with
organizations that currently promote cycling can help convince employers
to begin or increase investments in a cycling policy.
• To develop successful programmes that promote cycling to work, more
understanding is needed of what actually convinces employees to use a
bicycle in their daily travel to work.

“Occupy, resist, produce”

That is the slogan for workers in Argentina who have taken over factories left vacant by foreign investors. Workers occupy the factory and turn on the machines to start manufacturing goods then they form their own company to sell the goods. They’re cutting out the middleman called the multinational corporation while reclaiming their own jobs back. This idea seems to be influencing other workplaces.

The movement of recovered companies is not epic in scale – some 170 companies, around 10,000 workers in Argentina. But six years on, and unlike some of the country’s other new movements, it has survived and continues to build quiet strength in the midst of the country’s deeply unequal “recovery”. Its tenacity is a function of its pragmatism: this is a movement that is based on action, not talk. And its defining action, reawakening the means of production under worker control, while loaded with potent symbolism, is anything but symbolic. It is feeding families, rebuilding shattered pride, and opening a window of powerful possibility.
Like a number of other emerging social movements around the world, the workers in the recovered companies are rewriting the script for how change is supposed to happen. Rather than following anyone’s ten-point plan for revolution, the workers are darting ahead of the theory – at least, straight to the part where they get their jobs back. In Argentina, the theorists are chasing after the factory workers, trying to analyse what is already in noisy production.
These struggles have had a tremendous impact on the imaginations of activists around the world. At this point, there are many more starry-eyed grad papers on the phenomenon than there are recovered companies. But there is also a renewed interest in democratic workplaces from Durban to Melbourne to New Orleans.

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