Vancouver - The BC Federation of Labour met today in Victoria with a special government panel to outline a dozen recommendations for much needed reforms of BC’s labour laws to make it easier for workers to join unions.
“For 16 years, the BC Liberals tilted labour laws in favour of employers,” says Federation President Irene Lanzinger. “It’s time to restore fairness and balance to the laws and the Labour Relations Board.”
The BCFED’s submission calls for action to:
• remove barriers for workers to exercise their constitutional right to join a union, including a return to signed union card certifications—a process already in place in eight Canadian jurisdictions;
• prevent employers from interfering in union organizing drives;
• end rampant “contract flipping” that enables employers to keep wages low for tens of thousands of workers; and
• ensure that the LRB has the financial resources it needs to do its job and make timely decisions.
“These recommendations will go a long way to level the playing field for working people,” Lanzinger says. “Increased unionization gives workers more power to bargain better wages and conditions. That’s part of the solution to the rampant inequality problem we face here in BC.”
Lanzinger says the Liberal legacy of unfair and unbalanced labour laws includes radical pro-employer changes to the labour code, and the infamous Bills 27, 28 and 29 which tore up signed contracts for 150,000 health care workers and teachers, provisions of which were declared illegal by the Supreme Court of Canada.
Other Liberal legislation cut pay for tens of thousands of workers, and enabled “contract flipping” to allow employers to evade collective bargaining relationships and maintain poverty level wages primarily in construction, food and building services, and health care.
Lanzinger, who met with the government’s special review panel earlier this morning, is available to speak with media through the day. The complete BCFED submission can be downloaded at www.bcfed.ca. The labour code review panel is holding hearings in 10 BC communities through mid-April.
The following is a statement from BC Federation of Labour President Irene Lanzinger on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
On March 21 every year, the world turns its attention to the issue of racial discrimination in our communities.
According to Statistics Canada, in BC almost four out of every ten people in the province identify as a visible minority or as Indigenous, meaning almost forty percent of BC’s residents are at risk of experiencing racial discrimination every day.
When we talk about racial discrimination, it’s not always racial slurs uttered on public transit, and it doesn’t always involve snide comments made on the shop floor, or spray-painted hate speech across establishments owned or operated by Black, Indigenous or People of Colour.
In workplaces, racial discrimination most often takes on a more subtle, insidious form. It exists in the lack of people of colour in workplaces, leading often to tokenization of one person of colour. This leads to that worker feeling isolated, unsafe, and even under attack in the workplace.
It is apparent in the constant habit of employers hiring more and more non-visible minorities into workplaces when applicants who are visible minorities have equal skill level. It is apparent in the way workers who are visible minorities have their work challenged while their colleagues do not, and in the way Black, Indigenous and Workers of Colour are often left out of conversations in the workplace.
In our communities, racial discrimination becomes apparent in the lack of housing offered to visible minorities and Indigenous people, the amount of references requested of those individuals in order to obtain housing, and the types of privacy invasions they are subjected to by landlords.
In leadership circles in the province of BC and on corporate boards, the diverse nature of our province’s population is not reflected. This is a significant problem. Without representation in the appropriate sectors, Black, Indigenous and People of Colour will
not feel safe to come forward with the injustices that they face in the workplace, in agencies, or in their communities.
The re-establishment of the BC Human Rights Commission is a good first step toward ensuring just representation of Black, Indigenous and People of Colour in positions of influence provincewide. The federation looks forward to working with the commission on educating the public on this and other issues.
The BC Liberals targeted visible minorities and Indigenous people in BC for 16 years. They stacked the deck in our labour laws against them by gutting good-paying, health-sector jobs that were predominantly filled by women of colour. They stacked the deck by allowing contract flipping that lets employers pay poverty level wages with no benefits. The BCFED is working hard to lobby the provincial government for labour law changes that will create justice for Black, Indigenous and Workers of Colour in workplaces in BC.
We must have a comprehensive strategy to eradicate racial discrimination from this province and we must be diligent in following it. We must see just representation of visible minorities in all workplaces across the province, on corporate boards and in leadership circles. The time has come to level the playing field for Black, Indigenous, and Workers of Colour in British Columbia, and the BCFED is committed to helping make that happen.
It’s time to restore fairness and balance to BC’s labour laws.
Read our submission.
Vancouver-The BC Federation of Labour will outline a dozen recommendations to the Labour Relations Code Review Panel on how the new government can level the playing field for working people after 16 years of the BC Liberals, who tilted the laws to favour employers.
What: BCFED President Lanzinger to present submission to Labour Relations Code Review Panel.
When: Wednesday March 21, 2018.
9:00 am - 9:30 am.
*Starting at 9:45 am, BCFED President Irene Lanzinger is available to speak with media.
Where: The Coast Hotel, 146 Kingston Street, Victoria
Event highlights include:
● First public hearing of the Labour Relations Code Review Panel;
● BCFED President Irene Lanzinger to present 12 recommendations to the Labour Relations Code Review Panel;
● The BCFED’s submission will be available at 9:00 am Wednesday on www.bcfed.ca.
For more information contact Stephen Howard, communications director, 778 879 0707
The Following is a statement from BC Federation of Labour President Irene Lanzinger for International Women’s Day:
“March 8, 2018 marks 108 years since the first International Women’s Day was observed. This year the dominant narrative around the status of women in Canada and in BC has been women’s safety.
The Harvey Weinstein scandal in the US has started conversations among women who work in the film industry and in other sectors in which women are underrepresented in BC. For the first time women in huge numbers have felt safe to tell their stories of assault or harassment at work. The need to strengthen support systems and reporting mechanisms for these types of cases has never been clearer.
Earlier this week the BC Federation of Labour lobbied politicians at the Legislature in Victoria on women’s safety both inside and outside of the workplace. Issues on our agenda with the NDP government included the naming of different forms of gender-based violence in the Workers Compensation Act of BC, the establishment of intimate partner violence (domestic violence) leave in the Employment Standards Act, and the availability of sexual assault services, including the collection and storage of evidence on a 24 hour basis at every hospital in BC.
It was clear to us as we met with five ministers, the premier and other MLAs that the tone in the province of British Columbia has changed drastically. We now have a government that cares about the average British Columbian and will take steps to make life safer for women and other equity seeking genders in BC.
The deck has been systemically stacked against working British Columbians for sixteen years. The meetings the Federation had this week show that we are working with a new government that wants to level the playing field for working people in this province.”
The BCFED represents roughly 500,000 union members across the province, the majority of whom are women, making it the largest democratic institution representing the interests of women in the province.
Join us at our free evening event April 5 on Just Transition to hear how addressing climate change can lead to the creation of decent, secure jobs that leave no one behind.
How can we ensure the ambitious targets set by the Paris Agreement to address climate change lead to the creation of decent, secure jobs and leave no one behind?
Join us at our evening event on Just Transition to hear from speakers from New Zealand, Denmark,and Norway who have firsthand experience creating just transition strategies: how it can bring more and better jobs, create a thriving economy, and opportunities for local communities.
Free admission, but space limited, so kindly RSVP using the button below.
5:30 PM: Registration
6:00-8:00 PM: Stories and discussion
8:00-9:00 PM: Wine and cheese reception
Vancouver – The following is a statement from Irene Lanzinger, President of the BC Federation of Labour, marking the anniversary of the tragic van crash that killed three women farmworkers on March 7, 2007:
“March 7 is a day we must remember to renew our commitment to fight for healthier, safer workplaces and to end the discrimination faced by all farm workers who are exempted by law from BC’s minimum wage requirements.
Eleven years ago in 2007, three women— Armajit Kaur Bal, 52, Sukhvinder Kaur Punia, 46, and Sarbjit Kaur Sidhu, 31—tragically lost their lives when a 15-passenger van carrying 17 women farm workers to work skidded out of control on the Trans-Canada Highway near Abbotsford, BC.
Multiple investigations revealed that the employer was at fault for this tragedy. The van was illegally overloaded, had only two seat belts, was riding on mismatched and bald tires, had a wooden bench in the back, a fraudulent safety permit and was driven by someone who did not have the proper licence.
March 7 is a day to pay tribute.
It’s a day to honour the thousands of farm workers who toil every day in British Columbia - planting, nurturing, harvesting and processing the food that sustains our families, our communities and our economy. No work is more important.
March 7 is also a call to action for justice for farm workers.
Agriculture continues to be one of the most dangerous industries to work in, with farm workers among the most exploited and vulnerable workers in Canada.
Dangerous work, minimal pay, long hours, inadequate housing and living conditions, poor sanitation, substandard transportation, restricted access to health care services are just a few of the unacceptable conditions facing those who work in agriculture. The fact that many farm workers are recent immigrants or migrant workers with language barriers only serves to compound the disadvantages.
Since 2007, 23 farm workers have died.
In 2017, 550 claims were accepted for farm workers suffering from a workplace injury or illness.
We must remain vigilant in our fight to improve the working conditions for farm workers in BC and across the country, and to hold negligent employers accountable when they put farm workers in harm’s way.
Working to make workplaces safer, and fighting to end the unfair economic discrimination--this is the legacy that we owe to the families of three women that lost their lives as well as to the farm worker community in BC.”
A backgrounder on farm worker safety is attached.
Background on the safe transportation of farm workers in BC
The van crash on March 7, 2007 that killed three women highlights the need for increased inspection, enforcement, protections and awareness of the safe transportation of farm workers.
An inter-agency inspection blitz following the deaths resulted in more than 35% of all vans being immediately impounded because they were unsafe to drive. Moreover, widespread corruption was uncovered involving fraudulent safety permits being granted to owners of vehicles used to transport farm workers.
A 2009 Coroner’s Inquest into the deaths of the three women made 18 recommendations to improve the safe transportation of farm workers. Some were implemented and brought immediate improvements. Other more crucial recommendations were ignored, including:
• Ensuring that vehicle inspections sites are separate from maintenance and repair facilities—the Inquest recognized this as a significant conflict of interest that led to false vehicle safety certifications.
• Classifying 15-passenger vans as “high risk vehicles.”
• Mandatory annual inspections by a government-employed inspector for all 15-passenger vans.
• Farmworkers should receive education about their rights and responsibilities under the WCB Act & Regulation.
• Making business owners responsible for the safety compliance of labour contractors.
In addition, the recommendation to sustain random roadside and onsite inspection of commercial vehicles has been forgotten. Inspections have decreased by 80% since 2007.
Full implementation of the outstanding recommendations is essential to ensuring significant and sustained improvements in the safe transportation of farm workers. A robust and sustained inspection and enforcement strategy, including education of all stakeholders, is key to farm worker safety.
Help end exemptions to the minimum wage. Send a message to the government: It’s time BC had one fair wage for all workers!
Vancouver - Just ahead of International Women’s Day, a delegation of 30 women union leaders will meet with government and opposition politicians in Victoria to propose concrete steps focusing on women’s safety and greater protections from violence, assaults and harassment both on and off the job.
“We’ll be seeking support for a host of measures that will keep women safer at work, in the community and at home,” says BC Federation of Labour President Irene Lanzinger, whose group is organizing the lobby.
Among the issues that will be raised include:
• Improved sexual assault services for women at BC health care facilities;
• Updated employment laws to include domestic violence leave to safeguard the jobs and paycheques of women who are victimized by domestic violence; and
• Better protections for women to address sexual violence and harassment on the job.
To find out more about the lobby, click here.