Labour News Update: November 26 2017

Sweeping updates to workplace protections become law | Workers Win Big in Ontario | Teachers union and province begin long legal journey in Bill 75 fight | Why a Toronto single mom felt ‘terrified’ after receiving a long-awaited Phoenix payroll deposit | OECD Warns on Rising Debt Risk as Canadians Most in the Red | Overcrowded buses push Winnipeg Transit rider to call out mayor over service cuts, fare hike | Talks break down between General Electric, Unifor on GE Peterborough plant closure agreement; workers upset they are being asked to help overseas plants in taking over their jobs | ‘You’ll never work again’: women tell how sexual harassment broke their careers | The Postal Banking Solution | 1 in 4 Sask. children live in poverty: report | Looming ‘compassionate cuts’ to Alberta budget worry nurse, teacher unions | Province asking teachers to take 3.67-per-cent pay cut, sides far apart on wages | Ontario urged to make ending child poverty an election issue | Province promises new protection against workplace bullies within weeks | Bell insider reveals high-pressure sales tactics required on every single call

3hMET_15andFairness0516_Super_PortraitSweeping updates to workplace protections become law
Robert Benzie and Sara Mojtehedzadeh, The Toronto Star
November 22 2017

A new bill that constitutes the most sweeping updates to the province’s workplace standards in two decades is now law.

The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act will hike the minimum wage to $15, provide at least two paid, job-protected sick days for all workers, increase holiday entitlement, and boost protections for temporary employment agency workers. It passed its third and final reading Wednesday, with Liberal and NDP MPPs voting in favour and Conservative lawmakers opposing.

Workers Win Big in Ontario
David Bush and Doug Nesbitt, Jacobin
November 22 2017

After nearly three years of organizing, protesting, striking, and lobbying, a grassroots workers’ campaign in Ontario has secured a huge victory.

Against the unpopular Liberal government’s commitment to neoliberal austerity and sustained opposition from a powerful business lobby, the Fight for $15 and Fairness movement won a $15 minimum wage and other significant concessions. On November 22, Bill 148, which makes these achievements law, passed third reading in the Ontario legislature, overcoming its last legislative hurdle.

Teachers union and province begin long legal journey in Bill 75 fight
Michael Gorman, CBC News
November 23 2017

It will be more than a year before lawyers for the Nova Scotia Teachers Union and provincial government set dates for a hearing on the constitutionality of Bill 75.

Premier Stephen McNeil’s government passed the legislation last winter, ending a one-day teachers strike and imposing a contract on the province’s 9,300 public school teachers.

Why a Toronto single mom felt ‘terrified’ after receiving a long-awaited Phoenix payroll deposit
Michael Boisvert, CBC News
November 23 2017

When Kuini Chuen checked her bank account in mid-November, she saw something that’s become an unusual sight: a paycheque from her employer.

After working nearly three months without compensation, the deposit would have ordinarily been a welcome development for the Health Canada chemist, but such is life as a federal public servant that even payments now elicit fear.

OECD Warns on Rising Debt Risk as Canadians Most in the Red
Mark Deen, Bloomberg News
November 23 2017

The OECD warned that rising private debt loads in both advanced and developing economies pose a risk to growth as Canada, South Korea and the U.K. lead the world in household borrowing.

“Household and corporate debt in many advanced and emerging market economies is high,” the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said Thursday in a pre-released section of a report to be presented next week. “While higher indebtedness does not necessarily imply that problems are just around the corner, it does increase vulnerability to shocks”

Overcrowded buses push Winnipeg Transit rider to call out mayor over service cuts, fare hike
Cameron MacLean, CBC News
November 23 2017

After Mayor Brian Bowman warned last week about a looming fare hike and service cuts — a warning that moved a step closer to reality with the delivery of the city’s budget Wednesday — one frustrated Winnipeg Transit rider took to social media in an attempt to show the impact that could have.

Andrew Hask got on the Route 40 – All Seasons Express bus last Thursday, heading home from work around 4:30 p.m. The bus was already almost full, he said, and as it went along its route, it soon filled to the point that it simply passed by stops where people waited, with no room to take on additional passengers.

Talks break down between General Electric, Unifor on GE Peterborough plant closure agreement; workers upset they are being asked to help overseas plants in taking over their jobs
Joelle Kovach, The Peterborough Examiner
November 22 2017

Talks broke off between Unifor and General Electric on Tuesday as the two sides tried to arrive at a closure agreement for the plant, states an internal memo from the union to its members.

General Electric will close its Peterborough motors plant in September 2018, putting 358 people out of work.

The plant has been open 125 years. But in August, GE said production has decreased by 60 per cent over the last four years due to low demand from the global markets.

‘You’ll never work again’: women tell how sexual harassment broke their careers
Molly Redden, The Guardian
November 21 2017

As women come forward with accusations of sexual harassment in politics, media, entertainment and other fields, following the flood of allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, it is striking how many of their stories share the same ending.

Either the alleged abuse, the victim’s refusal to stay quiet, or both, slams the door on critical job opportunities and puts a serious – sometimes terminal – dent in her career. In some cases the victim never works in her industry again.

The Postal Banking Solution
Meagan Day, Jacobin
November 20 2017

Bluff, New Zealand is the southernmost inhabited city in the Eastern Hemisphere. The post office there looks over the Foveaux Strait — if you were to sail south from the harbor, the next landmass you’d encounter would be Antarctica. Fewer than two thousand people live in Bluff, but any one of them can walk into the post office and cash a check or apply for a loan. Residents may be at the edge of the world, but thanks to the state-owned postal banking entity, Kiwibank, they still have access to basic financial services.

1 in 4 Sask. children live in poverty: report
Brandon Harder, Regina Leader-Post
November 21 2017

As a line of Grade 2 students at Sacred Heart Community School filled their plates with lunch, some chose to sit down and wait for the server to come around with ketchup. Others waited for nothing, eating on their feet right next to the food cart.

“It’s hard to learn on an empty stomach,” said principal David Magnusson, repeating an old adage — one that might ring painfully true for many of his students, were it not for the some 350 free lunches his school provides each day.

Looming ‘compassionate cuts’ to Alberta budget worry nurse, teacher unions
CBC News
November 21 2017

Alberta’s teachers and nurses are concerned about looming spending cuts in the province.

Last week in a speech to the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Councils, Premier Rachel Notley warned the crowd her government plans to start compassionately cutting spending in the spring budget.

Province asking teachers to take 3.67-per-cent pay cut, sides far apart on wages
D.C. Fraser, Regina Leader-Post
November 22 2017

The Saskatchewan government has proposed educators in the province take a 3.67-per-cent salary decrease, find comparable savings through reductions to employee benefit plans or take a 3.5-per-cent cut in total compensation through a combination of reductions.

But the union representing teachers — the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF) — is looking for a one-per-cent increase to the current salary grid, as well as increases in line with the consumer price index.

Ontario urged to make ending child poverty an election issue
Laurie Monsebraaten, The Toronto Star
November 21 2017

Ontario’s proposed $15 minimum wage, legislation to address precarious work and a plan to double the number of licensed child-care spots for young children represent promising progress in the battle against child poverty, a new report says.

But with a provincial election just over six months away, any gains could be swept away at the ballot box unless all parties make ending child poverty a key platform, warns Ontario Campaign 2000 in its annual report card being released today.

Province promises new protection against workplace bullies within weeks
Elise Stolte, Edmonton Journal
November 20 2017

Alberta’s labour minister is promising to introduce changes to provincial workplace safety rules within weeks to better protect employees against bullying and psychological harassment.

Matt Dykstra, spokesman for Alberta Labour Minister Christina Gray, said anti-bullying provisions will be introduced to the legislature this session to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Bell insider reveals high-pressure sales tactics required on every single call
Erica Johnson, CBC News
November 19 2017

A longtime Bell Canada employee describes working in the company’s Scarborough, Ont., call centre as “a non-stop nightmare,” where she says she is forced to sell customers products they don’t need, don’t want, and may not understand, to hit sales targets and keep her job.

Andrea Rizzo, 50, has worked for Bell — Canada’s largest telecom service provider — for 20 years, and says the pressure to upsell customers who call in has become relentless.

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