BC Federation of Labour

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Vancouver - In the debate about whether Uber and similar companies will operate in our province, BC Federation of Labour President Irene Lanzinger says workers need protection and a level playing field before ride-hailing is given the go ahead.

Appearing before the select government committee holding public hearings on how to regulate ride sharing on Jan. 9, Lanzinger outlined a series of recommendations to establish an appropriate and fair regulatory framework if ride-hailing companies are to operate in BC.

The nine-point plan includes the following measures:

1. The BC Federation of Labour believes that if a progressive regulatory framework is put in place and a level playing field is created to ensure workers are treated fairly and public safety is protected, ride-hailing companies should be allowed to operate in BC.

2. With regard to public safety, the BC Federation supports a regulatory framework that includes standardizing insurance requirements, driver qualifications and licensing, vehicle safety and inspections, and criminal records checks.

3. Instead of creating more precarious low-paying work, the goal of expanding ride-hailing services should be to protect existing good-paying jobs and create new stable, employment—jobs that pay well, provide benefits, and have some security to allow workers to support themselves and their families. The BCFED believes this important goal should be reflected in the regulatory framework for allowing ride-hailing services to operate in British Columbia.

4. Ride-hailing companies do not have a track record of good labour relations. Workers need a level playing field and more clout to deal with rich and powerful multinational companies than they would otherwise have if companies were allowed to classify employees as independent contractors. The BCFED recommends that a level playing field for workers must include a review of existing provisions of the Employment Standards Act and the Labour Code to establish a clear legal employer-employee relationship between ride-hailing companies and workers.

5. Within the employer-employee relationship, all statutory deductions will be made so that employees are covered by EI and Canada Pension Plan benefits.

6. Provisions of the Employment Standards Act should be reviewed and updated as required, and applied and enforced to set minimum workplace standards throughout the ride-hailing sector.

7. The BCFED believes the safety and well-being of ride-hailing workers must also be protected in regulatory framework by health and safety protections, including the application of the Workers Compensation Act along with the jurisdiction of the Workers’ Compensation Board.

8. Riding-hailing companies must respect the constitutional right of Canadian workers to join unions and to bargain collectively to improve wages and working conditions.

9. Workers will be impacted by changes in the broader passenger transportation sector that will result from allowing ride-hailing companies to operate in BC. The BCFED recommends that a meaningful just transition program, to be funded by the industry and government, be established to assist affected workers.

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Author: bcfed
Posted: January 9, 2018, 10:10 pm

Vancouver - In the debate about whether Uber and similar companies will operate in our province, BC Federation of Labour President Irene Lanzinger says workers need protection and a level playing field before ride-hailing is given the go ahead.

Appearing before the select government committee holding public hearings on how to regulate ride sharing on Jan. 9, Lanzinger outlined a series of recommendations to establish an appropriate and fair regulatory framework if ride-hailing companies are to operate in BC.

The nine-point plan includes the following measures:

1. The BC Federation of Labour believes that if a progressive regulatory framework is put in place and a level playing field is created to ensure workers are treated fairly and public safety is protected, ride-hailing companies should be allowed to operate in BC.

2. With regard to public safety, the BC Federation supports a regulatory framework that includes standardizing insurance requirements, driver qualifications and licensing, vehicle safety and inspections, and criminal records checks.

3. Instead of creating more precarious low-paying work, the goal of expanding ride-hailing services should be to protect existing good-paying jobs and create new stable, employment—jobs that pay well, provide benefits, and have some security to allow workers to support themselves and their families. The BCFED believes this important goal should be reflected in the regulatory framework for allowing ride-hailing services to operate in British Columbia.

4. Ride-hailing companies do not have a track record of good labour relations. Workers need a level playing field and more clout to deal with rich and powerful multinational companies than they would otherwise have if companies were allowed to classify employees as independent contractors. The BCFED recommends that a level playing field for workers must include a review of existing provisions of the Employment Standards Act and the Labour Code to establish a clear legal employer-employee relationship between ride-hailing companies and workers.

5. Within the employer-employee relationship, all statutory deductions will be made so that employees are covered by EI and Canada Pension Plan benefits.

6. Provisions of the Employment Standards Act should be reviewed and updated as required, and applied and enforced to set minimum workplace standards throughout the ride-hailing sector.

7. The BCFED believes the safety and well-being of ride-hailing workers must also be protected in regulatory framework by health and safety protections, including the application of the Workers Compensation Act along with the jurisdiction of the Workers’ Compensation Board.

8. Riding-hailing companies must respect the constitutional right of Canadian workers to join unions and to bargain collectively to improve wages and working conditions.

9. Workers will be impacted by changes in the broader passenger transportation sector that will result from allowing ride-hailing companies to operate in BC. The BCFED recommends that a meaningful just transition program, to be funded by the industry and government, be established to assist affected workers.

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Author: bcfed
Posted: January 9, 2018, 10:09 pm

Vancouver – The following is a statement from BC Federation of Labour President Irene Lanzinger marking the 37th anniversary of the Bentall Tower tragedy:

“The BC Federation of Labour has a long history of advocating for healthier and safer workplaces for all workers in BC. Today we stand in solidarity as we remember a sobering event in our province’s history when four workers fell to their deaths during the construction of the Bentall IV Tower.

On January 7, 1981, Gunther Couvreux, 49; Brian Stevenson, 21; Donald Davis, 34; and Yrijo Mitrunen, 43; died tragically. They fell 36 floors to the street below when a fly-form used for pouring concrete broke away from the top of the Bentall Centre’s Tower IV.

We mark this tragic event to remind ourselves that the safety of workers can never be compromised. And that, although there has been a lot of progress in health and safety since this tragic incident, we have much more work to do.
Construction is still a high-risk industry in British Columbia with more work-related deaths each year than any other sector.

Over the last decade in BC, around 30 construction workers died each year from fatal traumatic incidents or occupational disease.

Every worker has the right to return home safe and healthy from work. We need to ensure that workers, supervisors, owners, contractors and employers know and understand their occupational health and safety rights and responsibilities.

We need to ensure that the Workers Compensation Board is properly funded to provide more resources for prevention and enforcement activities.

And we need to ensure that negligent employers who expose their workers to serious disease, injury or death – especially those who blatantly oppose the health and safety laws of this province – are brought to justice.

Today we remember and mourn these fallen workers and we express our compassion for the families that continue to grieve all these years later.”

Author: kmcgrath
Posted: January 8, 2018, 5:41 pm

Vancouver - The Following is a statement from Irene Lanzinger, president of the BC Federation of Labour, on the UN International Human Rights Day:

“The BC Federation of Labour is proud to celebrate International Human Rights Day. We commend the NDP government in BC on committing to reinstate the BC Human Rights Commission, after fifteen years of not having one in the province. We are committed to working with the Commission on the many human rights issues facing British Columbians.

This year there are many issues happening both locally and globally that the Federation would like to highlight. The persecution and torture of LGBTQ2* people have been in the headlines in recent months. The imprisonment of Dr. Saibaba, an Indigenous rights Activist in India who is living with a physical disability, has gained attention globally. The plight of stateless Muslim minorities in Bangladesh, Rohingya, has been on Human Rights Watch’s radar for many months now.

Rainbow Refugee - Vancouver
Rainbow Refugee is a Vancouver based community group that supports people seeking refugee protection in Canada because of persecution based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression (SOGIE) or HIV status. They also do an incredible amount of advocacy work on issues impacting refugees in Canada. Find more info about Rainbow Refugee here: https://www.rainbowrefugee.com/.

Free Saibaba – India
Dr. Saibaba is an indigenous rights activist who is currently imprisoned for being a leading voice defending the rights of adivasis (tribals), dalits (formerly called untouchables), and religious minorities in India. He is a person living with a physical disability and his living conditions in prison are of international concern. Sign the petition here: https://www.change.org/p/free-saibaba-us-free-dr-saibaba-and-oppose-the-...

Rohingya – Bangladesh
The Rohingya are a stateless Muslim minority in Myanmar's Rakhine State, thought to number about 1 million people. Myanmar regards them as illegal immigrants, a view rooted in their heritage in East Bengal, now called Bangladesh. According to Human Rights Watch, laws discriminate against the Rohingya, infringing on their freedom of movement, education and employment. They are denied land and property rights and ownership, and the land on which they live can be taken away at any given time. Learn more here: https://www.hrw.org/tag/rohingya-crisis

We encourage British Columbians to take time today to learn about these, or other issues that mean something to you, and take action, whether it be signing a petition, talking to neighbors and friends, or taking to the streets to show support for a cause. Together we can make our province, our country, and our world a much more just place to live."

Author: jmatten
Posted: December 10, 2017, 5:00 pm

Vancouver - The following is a statement from Irene Lanzinger, president of the BC Federation of Labour, on the National Day of Remembrance and Action Against Violence Against Women:

“Today marks 28 years since the killing of fourteen women at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal.

These women were killed because of the prevalence of sexism in our society. December 6 became the National Day of Remembrance and Action Against Violence Against Women as a result of this tragic and senseless killing, known as the Montreal Massacre

Over the past year the issue of violence against women has been at the forefront of public attention in workplaces, and in communities across BC and across the globe. We have seen the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls begin to take shape, the hashtag #Metoo go viral, and the countless stories of women who have been brave enough to come forward to tell their stories of being sexually assaulted or harassed on the job.

The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls has brought forward the stories of survivors of violence, as well as the stories of many women who did not survive. The level of violence faced by Indigenous women is four times that of non-Indigenous women in Canada. We must be vigilant in ending this violence, while taking our lead from the communities affected.

The hashtag #Metoo has placed a spotlight on the types of abuse that women face in almost every aspect of daily life. And the exposure of sexual assault and harassment in the workplace has taken new prominence, especially in the entertainment and media industries, as countless women have come forward to tell of the abuses they’ve faced.

Through participation in initiatives like the Be More Than a Bystander campaign, the labour movement is working to challenge and change the culture that allows for this type of abuse.

The BC Federation of Labour is committed to ending violence against women at work, in our communities and in our social circles. Together we can ensure that this moment in time marks a major culture shift in society.

On this Day of Remembrance and Action, we must remember the 14 women who were killed in 1989 and all women and girls who have been the targets of violence. We must consider the women and girls for whom violence is still a daily occurrence.

This day should serve as an opportunity to re-commit to the challenges ahead. We must become a society that does not tolerate violence against women, and that respects women as equal.”

Author: jmatten
Posted: December 6, 2017, 9:17 pm

The Government of Canada recently tabled the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. If passed by the House of Commons, the Optional Protocol would allow persons with disabilities in Canada to make a complaint to the United Nations if they believe their rights under the Convention have been violated.

This is an important step in supporting persons with disabilities and fighting against the discrimination they routinely experience.

The BC Human Rights Tribunal Report of 2016/2017 indicated that up to 55% of all Human Rights complaints are a result of discrimination on the basis of disability. We must be doing all we can, at the provincial, federal and international level, to end discrimination against persons with disabilities.

In May of this year, the International Labour Organization (ILO) hosted an Experts Meeting of Persons with Disabilities and Decent Work. This was the second meeting of its kind, and gathered trade unionists from around the world committed to exploring ways to address the profound lack of access to decent and meaningful work for people with disabilities.

Discussions at this historic event revealed the primary barrier to meaningful employment for people living with disabilities is attitudinal. Simply put, non-disabled citizens believe people with disabilities have little to contribute to our society as workers.
This attitude must be challenged.

Today, in celebration of International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the BC Federation of Labour is asking that we each confront our own perceptions of people with disabilities, that we raise awareness around the plight of people with disabilities in the workforce and encourage employers to hire people with disabilities into meaningful and decent work.

Worldwide, there are activists working diligently to fight for the rights of persons with disabilities to be active and full participants in our society.

This provides cause for celebration and for hope.

Author: kmcgrath
Posted: December 1, 2017, 9:24 pm

This event is open to all feminists.

Tickets $20.00 to cover cost of food - Please pay at door.

RSVP to kmcgrath@bcfed.ca - please indicate meat or vegetarian dinner preference.

Share Poster

Wednesday, December 6, 2017 - 06:00 to 09:00
Location: 
UFCW 1518
350 Columbia St
New Westminster
See map: Google Maps
Action Text: 
Buy Tickets
Host: 
Union Sisters and UFCW 1518
Author: kmcgrath
Posted: November 27, 2017, 7:59 pm

The BC Federation of Labour launched the Fight for $15 campaign three years ago, making the basic argument that a person working full-time should not be living below the poverty line.

Our campaign saw remarkable public support and, as a result, the NDP government has agreed to lift the minimum wage to $15/hour.

The only question we are left to contemplate is when do we get there?

The government established the Fair Wages Commission to tackle this question. The Commission is touring the province hearing from workers, organizations and businesses on what the timeline should be, who it applies to, and what happens after we get to $15/hour to ensure workers don’t fall behind again.

It will come as no surprise that the BCFED is active in this consultation process, and we have put forward a clear set of recommendations for the Commission to adopt.

On the question of timeline, we recommend that the minimum wage in BC get to $15/hour no later than January 2019. We have proposed a two-step process to get there – a lift to $14/hour in July 2018 and then to $15/hour in January 2019.

We are urging the Commission to move swiftly for many reasons.

Our economy is strong and people and businesses are benefitting as a result. That is true except for low-wage workers whose wages are not keeping pace. To be clear, we are talking about more than 400,000 workers who earn less than $15/hour - almost one quarter of the BC workforce. There needs to be a mandated adjustment to ensure all British Columbians reap the benefits of strong economic performance.

The cost of living continues to soar across the province and the affordability crisis facing communities is creating chaos for families trying to make ends meet. And workers earning below $15/hour are hardest hit. The longer we wait to raise the minimum wage above the poverty line, the further behind workers and their families fall.

We should keep pace with other jurisdictions on the same path. There are now many places in the USA moving to a $15/hour minimum wage, including Seattle and California State. In Canada, Alberta will get there by October 2018, and Ontario is set for January of 2019.

But the timeline for getting to $15/hour is only one piece of the puzzle.

The BCFED is also recommending that the government immediately eliminate discriminatory exemptions from minimum wage laws.

Live-in care givers are exempt from minimum wage laws. And some farmworkers are paid a piece rate, which can leave them below the minimum wage based on the hours they work, time of year and the crops they are harvesting.

Servers in BC can be paid the Liquor Server Wage – which is currently $10.10/hour, $1.25 below the minimum wage. But this lower wage can apply to all shifts in a pay period, even if the majority of those shifts happen at a time when alcohol isn’t served.

In short, we believe that the minimum wage should be just that - the minimum wage a person must be paid for any kind of work in the province of British Columbia.

The existence of exemptions opens the door to exploitation of vulnerable workers. These workers are not only earning poverty wages, but weak employment standards laws and lack of enforcement means they have little recourse when wronged by their employer.

The former BC Liberal government let the minimum wage sit stagnant for a decade – which fostered poverty and inequality in BC. Paying a fair wage to all British Columbians is a critical step to undoing the damage of their neglect.
A truly strong and sustainable economy must be built on the success of all British Columbians – it can’t favour a few and leave the rest behind.

British Columbians can have their say by contacting the Fair Wages Commission at https://engage.gov.bc.ca/fairwagescommission/.

Author: kmcgrath
Posted: November 24, 2017, 11:11 pm

Vancouver – The BC Federation of Labour is urging the Fair Wages Commission to set a swift timeline for reaching a $15/hour minimum wage and to eliminate discriminatory exemptions.

“Now is the time to be bold and to do the right thing for workers in BC,” said Irene Lanzinger, president of the BC Federation of Labour. “Low-wage workers cannot wait. The cost the living keeps going up, and workers and their families are falling further and further behind.”

The BCFED put forward three main recommendations for the Commission to consider:

• Reach a $15 per hour minimum wage by January 2019.
• Eliminate all exemptions to minimum wage laws.
• Make the Fair Wages Commission a permanent body to oversee the transition to a living wage and provide ongoing monitoring of wage levels and employment standards in BC.

“We need to get to a $15 per hour wage quickly, and we need to eliminate all exemptions to the minimum wage,” said Lanzinger. “The existence of exemptions opens the door to exploitation and abuse of vulnerable workers. The minimum wage must be just that - the minimum wage a person can be paid for any kind of work in the province of British Columbia.”

The BCFED submission outlines three categories where the minimum wage does not apply to employees: liquor servers, farmworkers, and caregivers.

The BCFED also recommends that the Fair Wages Commission be made into a permanent body with an expanded mandate to oversee the transition to a living wage, provide an annual review of wage rates, and be empowered to make recommendations on employment standards gaps.

“The former BC Liberal government gutted employment standards and undermined enforcement in BC,” said Lanzinger. “Workers are not only subject to poverty wages, but also to weak employment standards law and lack of enforcement leaving them with little recourse when wronged by their employer.”

Lanzinger noted more than 400,000 British Columbians earn less than $15 per hour – or almost one quarter of the provincial workforce.

“Our economy is strong, but we must ensure that all British Columbians benefit from this growth. That is what it means to have an economy that truly works for everyone.”

Lanzinger will present the full submission of the BC Federation of Labour to the Fair Wages Commission this afternoon at 2:30 pm in Vancouver.

Read full submission.

Author: kmcgrath
Posted: November 23, 2017, 6:57 pm

Vancouver – The BC Federation of Labour is excited to participate in the round of consultations that start today regarding lifting the minimum wage in BC to $15/hour.

“We launched the Fight for $15 campaign three years ago, and we are eager to see a $15/hour minimum wage implemented,” said Irene Lanzinger, President of the BC Federation of Labour.

The Commission is holding public hearings in eight communities around the province, and is also accepting online submissions. The first hearing is today in Abbottsford.

“We are encouraging people to take this opportunity to have their say on this critical issue. Low-wage earners are living below the poverty line at a time when we are facing an affordability crisis around the province,” said Lanzinger. “We must move swiftly to a $15/hour minimum wage and eliminate all exemptions, like the liquor server wage.

“The longer we wait the further behind workers and their families fall.”

Irene Lanzinger will present the BC Federation of Labour’s submission to the Fair Wages Commission at the Vancouver hearing on November 23, 2017.

For more information or to email your story to the Fair Wages Commission, visit www.fightfor15bc.ca.

Author: kmcgrath
Posted: November 16, 2017, 9:02 pm