Labour News Update: July 10 2017

Manitoba public-sector unions launch court challenge over wage freezes | Disappearing jobs in NL | Push for automatic compensation for workers exposed to General Electric toxins in Peterborough | British Columbia Supreme Court upholds container truck driver wage ‘floor’ | Conservative policies to blame for trouble at Canada Post | Pacific Blue Cross locks out employees | Big win for people of Wasaga Beach as council votes against selling local hydro company | Suncor ignored safety problems before operator plunged to death in tailings pond | Liberals spell out rules on infrastructure cash | Workers’ Compensation Board focuses on policies, not workers, review says | CUPE cries foul over health-care cuts | Union estimates 400 workers will depart next week from the Ingersoll plant | Former Sears employees worry about lost severance, possible reduced pension | University of Alberta professors urge administration to address pay inequity | Lawsuit takes on WSIB for rejecting ‘chronic mental stress’ claims

Manitoba public-sector unions launch court challenge over wage freezes
Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
July 4 2017

Manitoba’s public-sector unions launched a court challenge Tuesday against wage freezes imposed by the provincial government.

More than a dozen unions, representing 110,000 government workers, nurses, teachers and others across the public sector, said the government’s plan undermines collective bargaining rights and is unconstitutional.

Disappearing jobs: N.L. unemployment rate now 14.9%
Marilyn Boone, CBC News
July 7 2017

It’s discouraging news for anyone seeking a job.

The unemployment rate in Newfoundland and Labrador climbed to 14.9 per cent from May to June, with the disappearance of 1,400 jobs.

That’s according to the latest labour force numbers released Friday by Statistics Canada.

When you compare the job picture a year ago, it looks even worse. Nearly 12,000 fewer people are working than in June 2016.

Advocates meeting Wednesday to continue push for automatic compensation for workers exposed to General Electric toxins in Peterborough
Joelle Kovach, The Peterborough Examiner
July 7 2017

Workers who developed cancer after exposure to toxins at the General Electric plant in Peterborough deserve compensation, say local advocates – and they plan to continue pushing for it, this summer.

A public meeting is taking place Wednesday at the OPSEU offices on Lansdowne St. W. where the matter is going to be discussed.

The meeting is organized by a coalition of local people who want compensation for the former GE workers.

British Columbia Supreme Court upholds container truck driver wage ‘floor’
Land Line, July 7 2017

A June 30 ruling by the Supreme Court of British Columbia means 10 trucking companies will have to shell out more than $1 million in back pay to truck drivers.

The court upheld the wage “floor” in the Container Trucking Act, ruling against the trucking companies after they sued the provincial government in an effort to overturn the legislation. The Act establishes a minimum wage for container truck drivers working in the province.

Conservative policies to blame for trouble at Canada Post
Peter Wheeland, Cult MTL
July 7 2017

Management at Canada Post is determined to ensure that women and new hires at the crown corporation be treated as second-class workers, by maintaining inferior pay conditions for rural postal workers — mostly women — and introducing inferior pension plans for anyone who joins the post office after the next contract is settled.

To accomplish this, the corporation led by Harper toadie Deepak Chopra (not the New Age guru, more like a rusted Iron Age relic) is trying to provoke a labour crisis by locking out employees and bringing the postal network to a grinding halt as early as Monday. Chopra is doing this even though he knows that the mere threat of a disruption has already caused Canada Post to lose 75 per cent of its e-business and that competing delivery companies are leaping in to fill the void. (Canada Post owns 91 per cent of the private Purolator firm, one of the main beneficiaries of the seemingly suicidal lock-out. Pushing business into Purolator’s lap is a not-so-subtle form of privatization by proxy.)

Pacific Blue Cross locks out employees
CUPE
July 7 2017

CUPE 1816 members on rotating legal job actions against Pacific Blue Cross found themselves locked out this morning, the result of a company policy announced as the Union held a rally outside the benefit provider’s offices last week.

In an e-mail to employees on June 30, PBC stated that future withdrawals of labour by the Union would result in CUPE 1816 members being prevented from returning to work until the week after the job action.

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Photo via www.keepwasagahydropublic.ca

Big win for people of Wasaga Beach as council votes against selling local hydro company
Keep Hydro Public Coalition
July 7 2017

After months of community involvement, on July 7, 2017, Wasaga Beach council voted unanimously to keep Wasaga Distribution Inc. (WDI) public. With the help of the Keep Hydro Public Coalition, local residents successfully pressured their municipal council to retain and grow the local distribution company, which is rated as one of Ontario’s most efficient hydro providers with the lowest electricity cost in the province.

Suncor ignored safety problems before operator plunged to death in tailings pond: court documents
David Thurton CBC News
July 7 2017

Suncor Energy should have known there were safety problems at a section of its oilsands site near Fort McMurray months before a worker fell into an icy tailings pond and drowned in January 2014, court documents say.

In the seven months prior to the drowning of tailings pond operator Jerry Cooper, the company had recorded a series of “near misses” and “incident reports” stemming from softened ground caused by pipeline leaks in the same tailings pond area, according to an agreed statement of facts obtained Thursday by CBC News.

Liberals spell out rules on infrastructure cash
Jordan Press, The Hamilton Spectator
July 6 2017

OTTAWA — Provinces and territories that want a slice of new federal infrastructure money will have to prove it will accelerate economic growth.

This is the demand under terms laid out by the Liberals for the government’s long-term funding program.

Projects will also have to show a benefit to the environment — reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving resiliency against natural disasters, for instance — according to the strings on $33 billion in planned federal spending over the next 11 years.

Workers’ Compensation Board focuses on policies, not workers, review says
Janet French, Edmonton Journal
July 6 2017

The Alberta Workers’ Compensation Board needs a culture change to become “worker centred,” a panel has concluded after a year-long review.

Alberta’s labour ministry released a 189-page report Thursday by a three-member panel that took a deep look inside the system that compensates workers who are injured or fall sick on the job.

The panel made 60 recommendations, 27 of which would require amending laws or provincial regulations.

CUPE cries foul over health-care cuts
Jason Friesen, Winnipeg Sun
July 6 2017

The sound of car horns rang on Notre Dame Avenue for another rally against health care cuts proposed by the province.

On Thursday, it was CUPE’s turn to stand at the Health Sciences Centre and rally against the government’s plans for the health care system.

Union estimates 400 workers will depart next week from the Ingersoll plant
Norman De Bono, The London Free Press
July 6 2017

Cami is bracing for the loss of one of its vehicles, and about 400 layoffs, as the Canadian auto market is on pace to set a sales record.

Cami, owned by GM Canada, is shifting its Terrain production to Mexico. The last Terrain will roll off the line at Cami next week, said Mike Van Boekel, chairperson of Unifor Local 88 representing workers at the Ingersoll plant.

Former Sears employees worry about lost severance, possible reduced pension
Sophia Harris, CBC News
July 6 2017

Sue Earl is still reeling from news that Sears has cut off her severance payments. She says she stands to lose upwards of $20,000.

“I feel robbed,” says Earl, who did everything from work in the children’s department to handle catalogue orders during her 38-year career at Sears.

“It’s another slap in the face,” adds the 64-year-old. “Especially when they reach out after you’ve left and snatch that money back from you.”

University of Alberta professors urge administration to address pay inequity
Keith Gerein, Edmonton Journal
July 5 2017

The organization that represents academics at the University of Alberta is calling on the school’s administration to take action on pay inequities affecting professors who are women, visible minorities or indigenous.

A new study released by the group analyzed publicly available compensation data, finding professors in those categories are being paid substantially less on average compared to their male counterparts.

Lawsuit takes on WSIB for rejecting ‘chronic mental stress’ claims
Nicole Brockbank and Mike Crawley, CBC News
July 5 2017

A new court case will try to overturn Ontario’s denial of compensation for workers whose jobs caused them ongoing mental stress.

CBC News has obtained court documents in which lawyers representing workers argue the provincial government and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) are violating the Charter of Rights by excluding chronic mental stress from the kinds of injuries eligible for compensation.

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