Canadian Labour Congress

Canadian Labour Congress

May 01, 2009 16:32 ET

Happy May Day, Danny! Georgetti Says Newfoundland & Labrador Government's Actions Should Lead the Way for Other Governments Across Canada

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 1, 2009) - The Canadian Labour Congress has praised yesterday's statement by Newfoundland & Labrador Premier Danny Williams that he will fight to ensure workers laid off by Abitibi-Bowater get the severance pay they deserve.

In a letter to Williams, CLC President Ken Georgetti praised the strong actions and leadership that he and his government have demonstrated on behalf of working people.

"This is the kind of leadership that Canadians expect and, quite frankly, Canadians deserve from the governments they elect. This is what is possible when governments choose to put the interests of people ahead of raw corporate greed. This is the kind of first-class service every Canadian who has lost their job, or lost their retirement savings, or who is being squeezed by the banks should demand from their governments, instead of the second-class service too many of them are getting today," says Georgetti.

The text of the letter follows:

Premier Williams,

You have given us wonderful news today on May 1st, the International Day for Workers' Rights. I write to offer my strong support for your pledge yesterday to ensure Abitibi-Bowater workers receive the severance pay they are owed. The amounts involved here are hardly trivial: workers are owed between $30,000 to $100,000 depending on the individual case. Your words were clear, fair, and set a standard for your colleagues in other provinces to follow:

"...any discussion or any passing of a cheque over to Abitibi (following expropriation) would have to look out for and safeguard the interests of the workers from a severance perspective, so that severance issue is clearly on the table. It has been acknowledged by Abitibi. Now, as to whether they will dispute payment, that is a whole other issue, but from our perspective, fortunately we are in the driver's seat.

As a result of taking the action that we have taken, we hold the assets. If we had done absolutely nothing and this company had gone into an arrangement or receivership and ultimately into a bankruptcy, there would be no right to recover severance; there would be no holding of assets; there would be no cheque to be passed over, so we would not be in a position to do what we are doing. Fortunately, we did what we did.

At a time when multinational companies are shedding jobs with reckless abandon, your leadership offers concrete evidence that fairer alternatives are possible. Workers' hard-earned pay and benefits should not be sacrificed on the altar of private greed. Due process and respect for the contributions of workers are integral Canadian values.

When Canada emerges from the current economic crisis, it will be thanks to those who put human needs ahead of the quarterly whims of narrower minds. Historians will recount today's tough economic times, and you will be placed on the right side of history.

Yours sincerely,

Ken Georgetti, President

Canadian Labour Congress.

The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labour movement, represents 3.2 million Canadian workers. The CLC brings together Canada's national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 130 district labour councils. Web site:

Contact Information

  • Jeff Atkinson
    613-526-7425 and 613-863-1413