Steelworkers keep the pressure on about toxic toys - The tip of the iceberg in a deregulated global market



    MONTREAL, Dec. 20 /CNW Telbec/ - In a household in Greater Montréal, a
family is in the process of testing toys for lead content using a kit provided
by the United Steelworkers (FTQ). Daniel Roy, Director of the Québec Division,
declared that "the current crisis in toxic toys coming from countries like
China demonstrates the dangers inherent in the deregulated trade system and
the crisis in manufacturing jobs. Toxic toys are just the tip of the iceberg."
    "There is something wrong when Québec has lost 151,000 manufacturing jobs
since 2002, and at the same time imports dangerous products. Since the
beginning of this year, Québec has lost 10% of its manufacturing jobs. This
brings the number of manufacturing jobs lost in Québec to nearly 50,000, which
accounts for more than half of the 98,400 such jobs lost in Canada. The recall
of 30 million toys in North America is another indication of a major problem
with a deregulated market," the union leader continued.
    "In fact," he asserts, "lead in toys has literally brought the job crisis
in the manufacturing sector home to us, due to hastily adopted deregulation
following on the heels of bad trade agreements."

    Negotiating better trade agreements

    Without better trade agreements that guarantee more protection for
workers, better health and safety conditions and greater environmental
protection, Daniel Roy believes that Québecers have good reason to worry about
the safety of imported goods.

    Stricter measures

    "Thanks to efforts by unions like the Steelworkers, lead has been
eliminated from most factories in North America because it is a dangerous
metal. But now it is back again because it is more economical to include it in
products. Furthermore, we are exporting our good jobs to countries that lack
proper regulations on product toxicity and safety. That is why our union has
launched a campaign to halt imports of toxic products, and that is why we are
testing toys for lead content in Montréal today," he explains.
    In particular, the Steelworkers are demanding more testing of products at
the importers' expense right at the border, toughening of federal rules on the
toxicity of consumer products and stronger government powers to require that
dangerous goods simply not be sold here. Only the latter measure was
introduced in the new federal bill that was announced by Prime Minister Harper
on Monday. "The lax attitude of this government, which only believes in the
virtues of the invisible hand of the market, is making our economy invisible,"
concludes the Québec Director.

    More information may be found on the following Web site:
    www.stoptoxicimports.org




For further information:

For further information: Daniel Roy, United Steelworkers (FTQ), (514)
850-2249


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