BC Federation of Labour

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Labour Canvasses - Provincial Election 2017

The election is on and we are building momentum. We've had a number of energetic labour canvasses in the past few weeks and we can now confirm a number of upcoming events. For more information on labour canvasses around the province please click here.

Thursday, April 13, 2017 - 16:30 to Tuesday, May 9, 2017 - 20:30
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Author: dianne.baker
Posted: April 13, 2017, 11:38 pm

Be a Part of the Change
May Day 2017
International Day of the Worker
March & Rally

Monday, May 1, 2017

5:00 PM - Gather at Clark Park (Commercial Drive & 14th)
5:30 PM - Family Friendly March to Grandview Park led by the Carnival Band
6:00PM - Rally

Click here to download the event poster.

Monday, May 1, 2017 - 05:00
Location: 
Clark Park
Commercial Drive & 14th
Vancouver, BC
See map: Google Maps
Action Text: 
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Host: 
BC Federation of Labour
Author: dianne.baker
Posted: April 13, 2017, 7:34 pm

Vancouver - The ranks of unemployed workers in BC grew as full-time jobs declined slightly, while BC leads the country in the prevalence of precarious part-time work, according to March jobs numbers released today by Statistics Canada.

Almost 10,000 more British Columbians were out of work compared to the previous month as the labour force grew and the full-time job count declined by more than 2,000, says BC Federation of Labour President Irene Lanzinger.

“It’s always disheartening when more workers face unemployment and have to struggle even harder to get ahead in the country’s most expensive place to live,” says Lanzinger. “Clearly the March numbers snapshot a shakey jobs picture in our province.”

With part-time jobs rising by more than 6,000 compared to February, Lanzinger points out that BC leads Canada in a precarious work index—the number of part-time jobs as a percentage of total employment.

According to the Statscan numbers, 21.2% of all jobs in BC are part-time, which tend to be lower paying, with fewer benefits, and unstable hours and working conditions compared to full-time work. By comparison only 18.7% of jobs in Alberta and 18.5% in Ontario are part-time.

“The preponderance of precarious part-time work here in BC is indicative of a crisis in good quality jobs that weakens the foundation of our economy and underpins the high levels of disparity and inequality that are so rampant in our province,” Lanzinger says.

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Author: jmatten
Posted: April 7, 2017, 3:36 pm

Vancouver-The BC Federation of Labour is demanding answers from Premier Clark’s labour minister, Shirley Bond, about a paltry fine assessed against a big Vancouver property development firm whose serious violation of health and safety rules caused the death of a Kamloops construction worker in 2015.

Sean Alexander Donetz was killed on the job after falling from a lifting device at a Kamloops construction site. The Workers’ Compensation Board investigated the tragic accident and found Donetz’s death was caused by a “high risk and repeated violation,” by his employer, a subsidiary of Vancouver-based Onni Group of Companies. Onni makes significant donations to the BC Liberal Party.

Despite the seriousness of the violations that caused the death, Onni was fined only $48,719.50.

“Such a paltry fine for a safety violation that cost a worker his life sends a message to employers that they don’t have to follow the rules,” says BCFED President Irene Lanzinger. “It says employers can kill or injure workers with impunity, or at worst a small fine and a slap on the wrist. It’s unacceptable.”

In a letter sent to the labour minister yesterday, Lanzinger asked Bond to explain why the WCB assessed such a small penalty to a company with such deep pockets.

“And given the WCB’s findings, the bigger question I’ve asked the minister to explain is why a criminal prosecution was not pursued against Onni for negligence causing death?” Lanzinger says. “We want to know why aren’t Onni executives facing jail time?”

Six months ago, a BC court let another employer off the hook in a workplace tragedy where 22-year-old Kelsey Ann Kristian died when she was crushed by a 31,000-kg heavy duty truck that she was operating without any training at a quarry near Mission. Her employer faced criminal negligence charges and jail time. But the courts let the boss off with a fine instead.

“These are both clear examples of why government needs to do more to make employers face real consequences—including jail time—when their negligence and failure to keep workers safe on the job results in injury or death.”

The BCFED’s letter to Bond also took the Clark government to task for over its plan to appropriate the WCB’s budget surplus as a gift to employers. Lanzinger says the money—which could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars—should be used to fund workplace safety programs, tougher rules, greater enforcement, more criminal prosecutions of negligent employers, and improved benefits for injured workers.

Author: kmcgrath
Posted: April 4, 2017, 4:52 pm

As part of our support for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, we are encouraging affiliates and union members across the province to post information in their communities about providing testimony to the National Inquiry. Attached is a one-page document that lists the toll free number and the e-mail address that families and survivors are asked to use to contact the Inquiry in order to give testimony.

Please share this as widely as possible, particularly in BC communities outside the Lower Mainland.

Author: kmcgrath
Posted: March 31, 2017, 9:35 pm

Vancouver-The tragic death of a New Westminster restaurant worker last week has renewed concerns of the BC Federation of Labour that the provincial government needs to do more to make BC workplaces safer.

“We extend our condolences to the family and colleagues of the worker who died,” says BCFED President Irene Lanzinger.

“In our view, every workplace accident and death is preventable,” she says. “All workers must enjoy the basic right to health and safety protections at work and to come home safely to their families at the end of their shift.

“But this death—along with many others so far this year are a sign that more needs to be done to protect workers,” she says.

While the accident is under investigation by the Workers’ Compensation Board, Lanzinger says worker safety isn’t a priority of Premier Clark’s government. “Health and safety protections are weak and not always rigorously enforced. Employers whose negligence kills or seriously injures workers are let off with a slap on the wrist. And injured workers and families of deceased workers have endured deep cuts in WCB benefits under the BC Liberals.”

News of the death comes only days after the Clark government announced it was siphoning off the WCB’s budget surplus as a gift to employers. Lanzinger says the money—which could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars—should be used to fund workplace safety programs, tougher rules, greater enforcement, more criminal prosecutions of negligent employers, and improved benefits for injured workers.

Author: kmcgrath
Posted: March 31, 2017, 5:25 pm

Vancouver - Premier Christy Clark’s plan to siphon tens of millions of dollars in funds for injured workers and gift it to employers is an outrageous political move and comes at a time when more needs to be done to keep workers safe on the job and fairly compensate those who are killed or injured, charges BC Federation of Labour President Irene Lanzinger.

The move on WCB funds was announced late this morning and would take effect after the May 9 provincial election.

“The money that the government and employers are appropriating should instead be used to improve benefits for workers killed and injured on the job that were slashed by the BC Liberals,” Lanzinger says.

“On the job, workers’ daily experience is that government and employers aren’t doing enough to keep them safe,” Lanzinger says. “Health and safety protections are weak and not always rigorously enforced. Worker safety is being compromised. Injured workers aren’t fairly compensated, and employers whose negligence kills or seriously injures workers are let off with a slap on the wrist.”

A worker hurt on the job pays a 10% penalty on their take home pay under current WCB rules.

“We argue that rather than lining employers’ pockets, surplus funds should be used to make work safer, for tougher regulations and more stringent enforcement,” says Lanzinger.

Author: jmatten
Posted: March 29, 2017, 8:28 pm

On April 8th at 8:00 pm, the BCFED Young Workers’ Committee will be holding the Annual Grant’s Law Sit-In in Victoria and Vancouver. The event is held to call for improved health and safety protections for late night workers. Following the tragic death of Grant Depatie in 2005 in a gas and dash in Maple Ridge, Grant’s family and the BCFED called for strengthened protections for those who work alone and at night. New laws were put in place but due to lobbying by big money corporations, parts of the law were rarely enforced and eventually removed by the Clark government. Each year we return to Mac's, one of the companies that lobbied for the weakened law, to call on the BC Government to return the protections and to ensure that similar tragedies do not occur. This year as we head into a provincial election, the call carries additional significance as the event will occur one month before voters have a chance to head to the polls.

Victoria Poster

Saturday, April 8, 2017 - 22:00 to Sunday, April 9, 2017 - 06:00
Location: 
Mac's Convenience Store
1304 Douglas Street
Victoria
See map: Google Maps
Action Text: 
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Host: 
BCFED
Author: kmcgrath
Posted: March 28, 2017, 11:36 pm

On April 8th at 8:00 pm, the BCFED Young Workers’ Committee will be holding the Annual Grant’s Law Sit-In in Victoria and Vancouver. The event is held to call for improved health and safety protections for late night workers. Following the tragic death of Grant Depatie in 2005 in a gas and dash in Maple Ridge, Grant’s family and the BCFED called for strengthened protections for those who work alone and at night. New laws were put in place but due to lobbying by big money corporations, parts of the law were rarely enforced and eventually removed by the Clark government. Each year we return to Mac's, one of the companies that lobbied for the weakened law, to call on the BC Government to return the protections and to ensure that similar tragedies do not occur. This year as we head into a provincial election, the call carries additional significance as the event will occur one month before voters have a chance to head to the polls.

Vancouver Poster

Saturday, April 8, 2017 - 20:00 to Sunday, April 9, 2017 - 06:00
Location: 
Mac's Convenience Store
2601 Commercial Drive
Vancouver
See map: Google Maps
Action Text: 
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Host: 
BCFED
Author: kmcgrath
Posted: March 28, 2017, 11:33 pm

The following is a statement from BCFED President Irene Lanzinger:

“This year, on March 21st, we mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination with a message on behalf of the 500,000 union members in this province and their families. To truly understand the impact of racial discrimination, we need to make space for people of colour in our unions and governing bodies. Through inclusion we can hear the stories of people of colour, and learn from them what strategies to use to tackle racism in our society.

The United Nations theme for this year’s International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is “Racial profiling and incitement to hatred, including in the context of migration.” When looking to our neighbours in the United States and the election of Donald Trump, we can see the influence of hate speech and bigotry here with the recent rise of racist incidents in our province. We are forced to take note of the amount of influence hateful speech in the media and perpetuated by leaders in both the USA and Canada has emboldened bigots on our side of the border as much as down south.

We must be vigilant in denouncing racial profiling, in denouncing anti-immigrant sentiment, when we hear it being repeated in our communities. We must also strive to make our communities, our workplaces, and our organizations welcoming places for all people.

Racialized workers are disproportionately represented in low-wage jobs, have a much harder time gaining access to the justice system, and face more barriers to migration than other workers. The BC Federation of Labour is working to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour in this province to help these workers—and all low-wage workers—acquire a standard of living above the poverty line.

One of the most effective ways to combat racial discrimination in workplaces is through organizing unions, collectively bargaining working conditions so that employers and workplaces adhere to human rights, and having effective grievance procedures for when issues do arise in the workplace. Unions can provide workers experiencing racism and other forms of discrimination with a safe place in which they participate with dignity and become empowered.

This March 21st, the BCFED calls on workers to mobilize to ensure that better happens for racialized workers in our province, and that British Columbians elect a government that will raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, protect workers’ right to organize their workplace into unions, uphold their right to collectively bargain, and make sure that the BC Labour Relations Board is a fair and just place to handle arbitration of grievances. Though we recognize March 21st as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, we also feel strongly that we must remain vigilant against discrimination every day, to make BC a fair and equitable province for all, especially those most marginalized.”

Author: kmcgrath
Posted: March 20, 2017, 11:57 pm