TORONTO — Jerry Dias, a veteran of the Canadian Auto Workers, is the first president of the new Unifor union.

The Canadian Auto Workers union and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada have merged to form a new group called Unifor, which is Canada's largest private sector union.

Dias says he plans to use Unifor's size to influence change labour relations in Canada.

"Unifor is here because it's time to stop playing defence and it's time we started to play offence,'' said Dias in his fiery inaugural address at Unifor's founding convention in Toronto. "It's time to stop reacting and it's time to start setting the agenda.''

Dias seem to be especially focused on labour's relations with the federal government.

''The Conservative government has decided to challenge our democratic right to organize and collect dues. They are singling out unions. They're attacking our finances. They're attacking our ability to represent our members," said Dias.

Dias, who is from Burlington, Ont., was an early favourite to win the presidency of Unifor, and won the election easily with about 87 per cent support.

Dias said he would uphold Unifor's promise to dedicate 10 per cent of its revenues to organizing workplaces and adding new members.

He also said that Unifor would welcome workers traditional excluded from collective bargaining and would seek other ambitious and creative ways to expand membership.

The union will initially represent more than 300,000 workers across roughly 20 sectors of the economy, primarily in manufacturing, communications and transportation.

It will also represent some public sector employees in the health, education and transit sectors.

The CEP and CAW voted last year to join forces, a move they hope will boost the national labour movement.

Officials have said the switch to a non-traditional name — one that goes beyond simply listing occupations or industries — signals the union is looking to branch out.

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  • 9. Poland (tie) - 10 attempted murders

    As demonstrated by the numerous reports of violations, hostility towards union activity remains commonplace. Undue pressure is often exerted by employers on trade unions and their members. Restrictions on the right tostrike remain excessive.<br> <br> Source: <a href="" target="_hplink">International Trade Union Confederation</a>

  • 9. Kosovo (tie) - 10 attempted murders

    The private sector remains out of reach for trade unions, in spite of the Labour Law that came into force in January 2011, and the Law on Trade Unions adopted in July. Anti-union pressure from employers and inefficient court protection mean that many workers are afraid to join a union, or even to report violations of their rights.<br> <br> Source: <a href="" target="_hplink">International Trade Union Confederation</a>

  • 7. Indonesia (tie) - 2 murders

    Two workers were killed in West Papua when police open fire on striking workers at US-owned Freeport McMoran's Grasberg (FMG) gold and copper mine. Several cases of police assault against striking workers and arrest of union leaders were reported. Indonesian domestic workers - working at home and abroad - faced harsh working conditions. In law and in practice, the right to strikeis nearly impossible to exercise.<br> <br> Source: <a href="" target="_hplink">International Trade Union Confederation</a>

  • 7. Honduras (tie) - 2 murders

    Trade union membership levels remain very low, company unions predominate and temporary employment and subcontracting are reaching alarming proportions. Teachers are continuing the fight to hold on to their rights and to save their pension institute, the Instituto Nacional de Previsión del Magisterio (INPREMA). The teaching union's very existence will come under greater threat with the proposed Education Law, which seeks to privatise education and to repeal the Teachers' Statute. The conflicts with campesino associations in Bajo Aguán, the attacks and attempts to interfere in or even illegalise teachers' organisations, and the murders of trade unionists, journalists and social leaders are clear signs that Honduras has not yet managed to recover from the break with constitutional rule and that its public institutions are still far from being consolidated.<br> <br> Source: <a href="" target="_hplink">International Trade Union Confederation</a>

  • 5. Philippines - 5 murders

    It was another tumultuous and tragic year for the trade union movement in the Philippines. Four trade unionists were murdered and one union member was kidnapped and arbitrarily detained. KMU legal counsel, Remigio Saladero, Jr. was once again the target of dubious government criminal charges. Union busting to avoid or destroy unions continued. <br> <br> Source: <a href="" target="_hplink">International Trade Union Confederation</a>

  • 4. South Korea (tie) - 6 murders

    Police violence and criminal sanctions against strikers continued along with increasing use of law suits claiming huge amounts of damages against strikers and unions. Since the 2008 election of the conservative government, the Korean trade union movement has noted increasing repression and worsening treatment of its members. Employers systematically engage workers on precarious employment contracts specifically to prevent them from forming and joining trade unions. Trade union rights are restricted in the public sector, and amendments to the labour laws in 2010 further restricted union activity.<br> <br> Source: <a href="" target="_hplink">International Trade Union Confederation</a>

  • 4. Palestinian Territories (tie) - 6 murders

    The exercise of freedom of association remains very difficult for most Palestinian workers, especially in Gaza. One trade union leader was sacked during 2011, while the executive of another replaced.<br> <br> Source: <a href="" target="_hplink">International Trade Union Confederation</a>

  • 3. Brazil - 7 murders

    The year 2011 saw major labour disputes in the banking, civil aviation and fertiliser industries. Municipal cemetery worker held important negotiations following a hard-fought labour dispute. Slave-like working conditions still exist and the authorities are keeping up their campaign to track down and prosecute those responsible. Seven rural activists were killed in 2011.<br> <br> Source: <a href="" target="_hplink">International Trade Union Confederation</a>

  • 2. Guatemala - 10 murders

    Guatemala again stood out in 2011, regrettably, as the Central American country characterised predominantly by human rights violations. The right to life of trade union, rural and indigenous community leaders and human rights defenders continued to be violated. Ten trade unionists were assassinated and there were violations of every kind in municipalities, enterprises and maquilas. The Izabal Banana Workers' Unions (SITRABI) was the hardest hit. Guatemala's employers are very conservative and do not respect the right of workers to freedom of association, collective bargaining and decent work. The Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, far from fostering labour rights, is the obedient servant of the national and transnational employers. When there are decisions by the labour courts in favour of the workers, they are not applied.<br> <br> Source: <a href="" target="_hplink">International Trade Union Confederation</a>

  • 1. Colombia - 29 murders, 10 attempted murders

    Although some progress has been made, the longstanding violence against the Colombian trade union movement continues to plague the country and trade unionists are still being killed, forcibly disappeared and intimidated. Twenty nine trade unionists were murdered in 2011. While some efforts have been made to investigate these crimes, the majority of the cases reported by trade union organisations remain unsolved. The state clearly lacks the capacity to protect trade union rights. The vice president of the Republic, speaking on behalf of the government, has recognised the scale of the violence, something previous governments have never done.<br> <br> Source: <a href="" target="_hplink">International Trade Union Confederation</a>