Labour News Update: January 24, 2016

Thousands of Canadians rally in Women’s Marches against Trump | Essar demands concessions | Trump pulls U.S. out of TPP, promises to renegotiate NAFTA | The coming battle over labour laws | Health care in Sask. | Work-to-rule ended for NS teachers | Fight for $15 chapter launched at UofT | Quebec minimum wage to rise | Sask healthcare workers want more frontline care | Talks may resume over Chronicle Herald strike | Yukon tradespeople not being paid fairly | Trudeau faces anger in NB over Phoenix payroll debacle | Boycott Molson-Coors | Campaigners push for 15$ minimum wage in Ont. | Gatineau transit workers vow pressure tactics | Family members critical of Huron Lodge outsourcing

Women’s March in Toronto. Photo: David Bush

Thousands across Canada rally in support of Women’s March on Washington
The Canadian Press
January 21, 2017

Thousands of Canadians, many waving signs and wearing pointy-eared pink hats, gathered in cities and towns across the country Saturday to show solidarity with the massive Women’s March in Washington.

A day after Donald Trump’s inauguration as U.S. president, large cheering crowds of women, men and children turned out at the dozens of Canadian events organized in support of women’s rights and human rights.

Many of the protesters said they wanted to send a message to politicians on both sides of the border that Trump-style politics, which they see as misogynist and divisive, are not welcome in Canada.

Essar demands concessions. Da Prat talks strike vote
David Helwig, Soo Today
January 21, 2017

Essar Steel Algoma may face its first strike in more than a quarter century after asking its hourly workers to accept a 10 per cent wage reduction and other concessions.

Terms of the company’s negotiating position are being presented to members of the United Steelworkers Local 2251 at a series of emergency information meetings today at the Quattro Hotel and Conference Centre.

Women’s March in Toronto. Photo: David Bush

Trump pulls U.S. out of TPP, will renegotiate NAFTA ‘at the appropriate time’
Pete Evans, CBC News
January 23, 2017

The new U.S. president made good on one of his campaign promises Monday, formally withdrawing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade deal, and signalling his intention to renegotiate NAFTA “at the appropriate time.”

Calling the move “great news for American workers,” Donald Trump signed an executive order pulling the U.S. out of TPP, a pan-oceanic trade pact signed by his predecessor but never ratified.

The coming mega-battle over Ontario’s workplace rules
Ethan Phillips, Canada Fact Check
January 20, 2017

In the spring of 2015, the Government of Ontario initiated its Changing Workplaces Review to determine what changes, if any, should be made to the province’s labour laws in light of the fact that, in the government’s own words, “non-standard employment (which includes involuntary part-time, temporary, self-employment without help and multiple job holders) has grown almost twice as fast as standard employment since 1997”.

The specific focus of the Review is on possible changes to the Ontario Employment Standards Act (ESA) and Labour Relations Act (LRA). The ESA provides a minimum set of workplace standards that apply to all Ontario workers (albeit with many exemptions) while the LRA governs union-employer relations.

Op-Ed: Health care
SEIU-West President Barbara Cape, Sasaktoon Star-Phoenix
January 20, 2017

A large number of SEIU-West members are employed as health care providers, myself included, and we were just as surprised as you when it came to the Government of Saskatchewan’s announcement to eliminate 12 health regions into one “mega” health region.

As a taxpayer, there are so many reasons to be alarmed about this ‘transformational change’ initiative. First, how will this massive change address chronic short-staffing within the health system in our province? There is no evidence that reducing the number of health regions will lead to better patient care.

The government claims this mega health region will save money by reducing bureaucracy but if that’s the true purpose, then why aren’t the bureaucratic structures of E-Health, SAHO, and 3sHealth also under scrutiny right now?

Work-to-rule to end Monday as teachers, province reach tentative agreement
Michael Gorman, CBC News
January 20, 2017

The work-to-rule campaign by teachers will be suspended beginning Monday after the Nova Scotia Teachers Union and the provincial government reached a tentative contract agreement.

The deal was announced Friday afternoon and comes after the most recent round of talks, which resumed last week.

Union president Liette Doucet told reporters the deal was reached Wednesday morning and the provincial executive spent two days evaluating it; they are recommending it to members.

Fight for $15 and Fairness chapter launched at UofT
Helena Najm, The Varsity
January 18, 2016

Fight for $15 and Fairness, the Canadian affiliate of Fight for $15, has expanded its advocacy work for higher wages by bringing the campaign to U of T.

U of T’s chapter was founded by Souzan Mirza, a master’s student in biomedical engineering; Andre Fast, a fourth-year Innis College student and co-founder of U of T’s Free Tuition Coalition; and Jared Ong, an alumnus and organizer with Fight for $15 and Fairness.

The co-founders and other group members are appealing to students’ experiences of part-time, low-wage or unpaid employment and urging them to support a coordinated effort towards fair compensation in Ontario.

Quebec minimum wage to go up to $11.25
Brendan Neill, CBC News
January 19, 2017

Quebec’s minimum wage workers will see a slightly bigger paycheque starting this spring, but that may not be enough, according to some labour unions.

The minimum wage will go up by 50 cents on May 1, 2017, bringing the total to $11.25 per hour.

Labour Minister Dominique Vien said Thursday it will be the first of four annual wage increases, which will bring minimum wage up to $12.45 per hour by 2020.

Sask. health-care providers want more frontline care through Health Accord agreement
David Baxter, Global News
January 18, 2017

Saskatchewan will be receiving $348.8 million from the federal government over the next decade after signing a new health-care transfers agreement.

Of this, $190.3 million is set to be spent on home care. Continuing care aide Rebecca Reynard is happy to hear about this decision, but has some reservations.

“It’s concerning that this is coming at the same time that they’re announcing wage freezes and hiring freezes,” she said.

Talks might resume in yearlong newsroom strike at the Chronicle Herald
The Canadian Press
January 18, 2017

An unfair labour complaint against the Chronicle Herald has been adjourned as the striking workers and the company say their lawyers have met to discuss further bargaining.

The Halifax news company says in an emailed release that the editorial workers requested the delay in the hearing.

The Halifax Typographical Union says it and the company are seeking to renew negotiations after lawyers from both sides met for informal discussions.

Tradespeople report not getting paid Yukon’s Fair Wage by contractors
Philippe Morin, CBC News
January 17, 2016

Yukon labour groups are advising tradespeople to know what they’re supposed to be paid when they work on territorial public works projects and to file a complaint if they’re offered less.

The United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 310 has received multiple complaints of contractors on public sector projects not following the territory’s Fair Wage Schedule, according to Marc Gagné, the union’s business manager.

The Fair Wage Schedule is published every year by the Yukon government. It sets pay rates for different levels of trades and it applies to general contractors and sub-contractors who employ workers on Yukon government public tender projects.

Justin Trudeau faces anger in N.B. over troubled payroll system
CBC News
January 17, 2017

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked some tough questions during Tuesday’s town hall meeting in Fredericton, particularly in relation to the Phoenix payroll “nightmare.”

Roxanne Merrill Young asked Trudeau about the new payroll system, which she called a “nightmare,” and which has left some federal employees sporadically paid or not paid at all for stretches of work.

Support striking beer workers – boycott Molson Coors
January 16, 2017

Nobody wants a strike. But when your employer asks you to accept a deal that would turn your good, middle-class job into a bad job, then you have no choice. You’re going on strike.

This is the case now for about 320 Molson Coors workers at the Carlingview Drive brewery in Toronto. Contract negotiations failed when the company wouldn’t budge on the concessions it was demanding from workers. The concessions included a 7 per cent cut in wages, pensions, and benefits. Molson is crying poor because of a dip in sales following the economic decline in Alberta last year.

Campaigners push Liberals for $15 minimum wage in Ontario
Mike Crawley, CBC News
January 19, 2017

Labour groups are optimistic Premier Kathleen Wynne and her provincial Liberals will follow Alberta’s lead and commit to raising Ontario’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.

The campaigners are hoping to persuade the Liberals with evidence that a higher minimum wage will be both politically popular and make life more comfortable for people struggling to get by.

No Gatineau transit strike Friday, but pressure tactics coming
CBC News
January 18, 2017

Gatineau’s transit workers will not be striking on Friday, but will instead consider other work-to-rule options as they continue to negotiate with Société de transport de l’Outaouais, Radio-Canada has learned.

The decision means the Outaouais transit system won’t grind to a halt Friday, but commuters should expect delays and may feel an impact getting to and from Winterlude events.

The union, representing the 485 drivers and 115 maintenance workers, had already given the STO a 72-hour notice of possible work action on Friday.

Family members of Huron Lodge residents critical of outsourcing
Craig Pearson, Windsor Star
January 17, 2017

A slim majority of councillors may want to outsource caretaker positions at Huron Lodge, but many family members of residents of the long-term care home strongly disagree.

The Windsor Star talked to a dozen residents’ relatives — and one resident — going in and out of Huron Lodge Tuesday evening and every one criticized city council’s 6-5 vote Monday to contract out janitorial work at the facility.

“It’s despicable,” said Jane Fitzpatrick, whose 89-year-old mother lives at Huron Lodge.

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