Right now, workers experiencing violence are being punished with lost pay. BC is one of the only provinces without paid leave.
The BC government is currently undertaking public consultations on this important issue.
The BC Federation of Labour is calling on the BC Government to give workers experiencing domestic or sexual violence at least 10 days of paid leave. BC is one of the only provinces that doesn’t require employers to provide paid leave.
The online campaign comes in response to a public consultation initiated by the Ministry of Labour on the issue of paid leave.
“BC is failing workers experiencing domestic and sexual violence, especially women”, said Sussanne Skidmore, Secretary Treasurer of the BCFED. “The path forward for government is clear: workers deserve at least 10 days of paid leave.”
The online campaign can be found at: www.workersdeservebetter.ca. It allows BC residents to email the Minster of Labour, the Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity, their local MLA and the office undertaking the consultation.
“Right now, workers experiencing violence are being punished with lost pay. That’s unacceptable,” Skidmore added. “Catching up to other Provinces isn’t enough: British Columbians want government to lead.”
BCFED Secretary Treasurer, Sussanne Skidmore is available for comment.
Please contact: Jonathan Sas | Communications Director | email@example.com | 604-861-4321
• Recent changes to employment standards provided unpaid leave for workers facing domestic or sexual violence.
• Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics data shows sexual assault is the only violent crime on the rise in Canada and that Intimate Partner Violence disproportionately effects women and working age Canadians.
• The government’s consultation survey can be accessed here: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/domesticandsexualviolenceleave/
Our vision for an equitable economy, sustainable jobs & quality public services in BC
Labour Day is a celebration of workers, unions, and of our movement and a chance to reflect on our incredible achievements. By any measure, 2019 was a banner year for workers and their families in BC.
Thanks in part to our ‘Workers Deserve Better’ campaign, the labour movement was instrumental in securing the first significant updates to the provincial Labour Code and Employment Standards Act, updates that will restore the power of workers after years of assault under past Liberal governments.
Finally, workers will benefit from crackdowns on wage theft (preventing employers from taking employee tips), an end to contract flipping, the removal of barriers to unionization, and an end to child labour.
The worker rights and benefits we enjoy today are the result of real, tangible sacrifices by working people. And we can’t afford to take them for granted. At this very moment, 2600 Steelworkers are on strike on Vancouver Island, as the highly profitable Western Forest Products seeks to eliminate their pensions.
Workers are fighting back. Our affiliate unions voted unanimously to issue a ‘hot edict’ refusing to handle any of the “hot” products emanating from the struck operation, in a show of solidarity with the striking workers.
The work of our movement is not complete. In this moment of fear-based, hateful politics both at home and around the world, we must remember that it is the organizing, advocacy and campaigning that we do in unions that stands in the way of the economic insecurity and a resurgent right-wing.
Whether its challenges like automation, the climate crisis, or precarious work, unions and working people must be driving the solutions. Working together, we can ensure a different world is possible.
Happy Labour Day!
Vancouver-Today, the BC NDP government announced a consultation on paid domestic and sexual violence leave. “The BC Federation of Labour (BCFED) welcomes the consultation and will use the opportunity to strongly advocate for employers to provide at least 10 days paid leave to their workers,” said Sussanne Skidmore, BCFED secretary treasurer. “Domestic, intimate partner and sexual violence reaches beyond the home and into the workplace and providing this support will ensure effected individuals have financial and job security.”
Paid leave can mean the difference between someone staying in a violent situation to pay the bills or having the protections in place financially that they need to leave their abuser. “Those who have experienced violence need to be able to access supports and services, like medical attention, attending counselling or finding a new home, without worrying about a disruption in pay,” said Skidmore.
“Advocates have told us that when people start a new job, or experience a disruption in pay, that’s often when the violence gets worse,” said Skidmore. Pay disruptions can trigger violent events because abusers may closely monitor and control the finances and schedule of the people they abuse. For this reason, the BCFED maintains that workers need immediate access to paid leave without a qualification period, and that it should be a standalone leave, not combined with other types of leave such as sick days.
BC needs to catch up to the curve on paid leave for survivors of violence. Most other Canadian provinces already require paid leave. The federal government and provinces of Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, and Prince Edward Island all provide paid leave.
Providing paid leave is also an important step on the road to achieving gender equity. A shocking one-in-three women will experience sexual violence in their lifetime. Women in BC still take home smaller paycheques than men with comparable education and training, and more than 50% of single mothers in our province live in poverty. “It’s time for BC to eliminate the barriers that are preventing us from achieving full gender equity in our province,” said Skidmore. “This is a good start but there’s more we must do.”
In addition to advocating for paid leave, the BCFED is working with our affiliated unions to ensure changes to the prevention of violence regulation will include a requirement for all employers to provide supports for workers experiencing domestic and intimate partner violence.
Vancouver - Today, the BC NDP government announced that the Employment Standards Branch will no longer require workers to use the so-called “self-help” kit to resolve employment standards complaints. The self-help kit forced workers to first file workplace complaints with their employer before a worker could reach out to the Branch for help.
“I know how difficult it is for vulnerable workers to tell their employer they have broken the law,” said BCFED president Laird Cronk. “Given the power imbalance, workers are afraid they’ll lose their job.”
The BC Federation of Labour (BCFED) has opposed the use of the self-help kit since it was first introduced in 2003 by the BC Liberal government. It was part of a move that cut services and reduced staffing at the Employment Standards Branch (the Branch). “Requiring workers to use a self-help kit was a cynical move by the former government intended to suppress complaints and cut costs at the Branch,” said Cronk.
This spring the BC NDP government introduced improvements to the Employment Standards Act along with a commitment to modernize the Employment Standards Branch. Further, Budget 2019 provided a long-awaited funding increase and the additional staffing needed to get rid of the self-help kit. “The elimination of the self-help kit and legislative improvements made this spring will make a significant difference for workers in BC,” stated Cronk. “I commend Minister Bains and the BC NDP Government for taking this step forward to ensure all workers in BC have fair access to their employment standards rights.”
Vancouver - BC’s Labour Relations Board (LRB) has upheld the right of the BCFED to use a “hot edict” to put economic pressure on unfair employers during labour disputes. On July 29, the LRB ruled on a challenge by Western Forest Products (WFP) that sought to limit the scope of the hot edict and have it struck down.
Over 2,600 Steelworkers employed by WFP on Vancouver Island are on strike to save their pensions, seniority rights and long-term disability from being cut by the company. The BCFED’s hot edict, issued on July 10th, calls on affiliated unions across the province to stand together with the striking forest workers by refusing to handle coastal lumber, logs and wood products emanating from the struck unionized logging and sawmill operations of WFP.
“This ruling recognizes and upholds the power of the labour movement to use a key solidarity action to help one another during a dispute with an unfair employer,” said Laird Cronk, President of the BCFED.
“BC’s labour movement took a stand for these workers and their families facing the threat of losing their pensions. We hope this hot edict brings the company back to the negotiation table without the draconian concessions.”
The LRB ruling is significant as it upholds not only the legality of the edict itself but the ability of unions to treat goods, produced by a struck operation before the strike commenced, as hot. “This ruling is a victory for working people in this province. It shows when workers stand up for each other, we can make a real impact,” said Cronk.
A full copy of the Labour Relations Board ruling is available upon request.
Vancouver – The BC Federation of Labour (BCFED) announced a “hot edict” today on Western Forest Products (WFP) in a show of solidarity with striking forest workers. The move, welcomed by the United Steelworkers (USW), means that members of the BCFED’s affiliated unions have been asked to no longer handle any WFP coastal lumber, log and wood products.
“The announcement of a ‘hot edict’ is a significant but necessary escalation in what is frankly an employer-initiated dispute” said President of the BCFED, Laird Cronk. “Through the solidarity of affiliated unions, the company’s products could lay dormant.”
Over 2,600 Steelworkers employed by WFP on Vancouver Island are on strike to save their pensions, seniority rights and long-term disability from being cut by the company. WFP has decided to attack its own employees with attempts to introduce a two-tier pay system for new employees, elimination of the current pension plan and demands to roll back several other clauses of the collective agreement that were bargained and agreed to over decades.
“The company is attempting these draconian roll-backs to worker benefits and rights despite continued profitability”, said Steven Hunt, Director of USW District 3. According to WFP’s 2017 and 2018 financial reports, the company made over a billion dollars in sales and made a net profit of $74.4 million and $69.2 million respectively. In addition, the salary of the CEO has steadily increased from $1.5 million in 2015 to $2 million in 2017, and from $500,000 in 2015 to $1.2 million in 2017 for the Vice President.
USW Local 1-1937 are seeking to achieve a new agreement that ensures workers are treated with respect, share in the success of WFP and that benefits that have been successfully achieved in previous bargaining are protected.
Media contact for BCFED:
Jonathan Sas, Communications Director
Media contact for USW local 1-1937:
Stephen Hunt, Director, USW District 3