Young workers representing the labour movement will be meeting with politicians today at the Legislature to make the case for change in key areas like strengthening employment standards laws, restoring balance and fairness in the labour code, and improving health and safety protections for gas and convenience store workers that were rolled back under the BC Liberals.
They will meet with NDP government and Green Party officials through the day, and attend Question Period this afternoon.
Young workers in particular were hard hit by the policies of the old government,” says BCFED President Irene Lanzinger. “For 16 years, the BC Liberals rolled back basic workplace standards and rights that had a disproportionate impact on young workers.
“They tilted labour laws in favour of employers to impose significant barriers for all workers to join unions to improve their wages and working conditions,” she says. “And in the aftermath of the tragic death of gas station attendant Grant De Patie, they abandoned safety rules that protected vulnerable young staff working at night.”
The lobby, part of the BCFED’s Level the Playing Field Campaign, will also talk about affordability issues and building an economy that works for everyone, including young workers.
Vancouver-The BC Federation of Labour is responding positively to today’s announcement that Victoria has substantially increased the role of working people in the BC government agency that coordinates and delivers training and apprenticeship programs for skilled trades in the province.
Melanie Mark, the NDP’s Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, made a number of appointments today to the board of the Industry Training Authority, including four labour representatives. Named to bring workers’ expertise to help solve BC’s skills training challenges are:
• Laird Cronk, International Representative from IBEW;
• Bob Davis, president of the faculty association at Kwantlen Polytechnic University;
• Lisa Langevin of IBEW 213; and
• Cindy Oliver, retired president of the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators.
“The new labour representatives bring a wealth of experience to the table to work with employers and government,” says BCFED President Irene Lanzinger. “We face some significant challenges addressing the chronic shortages of skilled workers and correcting the failures of the previous government,” she says.
Lanzinger says the labour movement brings a lot to the table to help develop the substantive changes needed to solve the skills shortage. Unions in BC invest millions of dollars every year to deliver highly successful training programs. And at post-secondary institutes across the province, union members provide classroom training for thousands of apprentices in dozens of different trades.
Vancouver – The following is a statement from Irene Lanzinger, president of the BC Federation of Labour, marking the National Day of Mourning:
“Every year we mark April 28 - the National Day of Mourning - to draw attention to the significant number of people who have died, been seriously injured or made ill because of their work. We do this to demand action from government and to insist on increased vigilance from employers so that every worker comes home healthy and safe after a shift.
In 2017, 198 BC workers were killed on the job or died from occupational diseases. That’s 198 too many – especially when we know every workplace death, injury or illness is preventable.
We must do better. We must ensure workers’ full, active participation in all aspects of health and safety in the workplace. We must hold employers to account when there is negligence, hold government and the regulator to account when there are weak laws and weak enforcement, and demand full compensation for workers and their families facing life-altering circumstances.
This year we are also turning our attention to workplace violence – because for too many workers violence and harassment, including sexual harassment and intimate partner violence, is a common occurrence on the job. We all have a responsibility to challenge workplace violence and harassment when we see it – the labour movement, employers, the regulator and the government. Turning away perpetuates the problem, and works to silence the damage it has on people’s lives.
On this National Day of Mourning, we remember all those who have lost their lives, been injured or become ill because of their work. And we honour the families, friends and co-workers who are left behind, or who must care for their family members who have been seriously injured or sick. And we recommit to doing everything we can to make BC workplaces healthier and safer. Today we will mourn for the dead, and fight for the living.”
The National Day of Mourning is recognized in over 100 countries. It began with a resolution passed in 1984 by the Canadian Labour Congress, and was officially adopted by the federal government in 1991.
The BC Federation of Labour encourages everyone to attend a Day of Mourning ceremony in your community, fly your flags at half-mast, and observe a minute of silence at 11:00 am on April 28, 2018.
Vancouver – The BC Federation of Labour is pleased with the announcement that the BC government will phase out the discriminatory server wage, ensuring by June 2021 servers will no longer be exempt from minimum wage laws.
“I am relieved that we can say good-bye to the server wage in BC,” said Irene Lanzinger, president of the BC Federation of Labour. “Make no mistake, the server wage is a sexist policy that puts women at risk. It has no place in a fair and balanced economy.”
The issue of exemptions to minimum wage laws was reviewed by the Fair Wages Commission, specifically for liquor servers, live-in caregivers, residential care-takers, live-in camp leaders, and piece rate for farm workers.
“We have long fought to have all exemptions from minimum wage laws removed. Our position is that the minimum wage is the minimum any worker can be paid for any work,” said Lanzinger. “Today we see important progress for workers in two areas – liquor servers and live-in caregivers. But we will continue to push for all exemptions to be removed.”
The government announced further study into how farm workers are compensated for their work.
“The government has indicated that it will further investigate farm worker piece rates. We expect them to do this work quickly and in direct consultation with farm workers,” said Lanzinger.
“This is a group of workers who are particularly marginalized and vulnerable to exploitation. It is critical that the government move forward to make life better for them and ensure fair and decent wages for their work.”
Lanzinger added that she looks forward to the final stage of the Fair Wages Commissions’ work into the transition from a minimum wage to a living wage for British Columbians. “Strong wages are a critical piece to poverty reduction and levelling the playing field for working people.
“After 16 years of neglect that fostered growing poverty in the province, we are finally taking steps in the right direction.”
The BCFED’s annual Regional Conference will be held this year June 21 to 24 in the Comox Valley in combination with 33rd Miners Memorial Weekend and the 100th anniversary of the death of labour organizer Ginger Goodwin.
With the theme of Level the Playing Field, the conference offers participants the chance to learn about current challenges the labour movement is tackling, and the how labour has helped shape the local history in the Comox Valley over the last century.
The conference fee is $275.
For more information and to register, please visit the conference site: click here.
Vancouver – The BC Federation of Labour Young Workers’ Committee will stage an overnight protest April 14 to highlight weak safety laws left by the BC Liberals that fail to protect convenience store and gas station staff working alone at night.
They will sit in starting at 8:00 pm Sat. April 14 at the Mac’s Convenience at 2601 Commercial Dr in Vancouver to gather public support for BC’s new government and the Worker’s Compensation Board to strengthen protections to keep workers safe from incidents of violence and theft.
The event also honours Grant De Patie, a 24-year old gas station attendant who died tragically in 2005. Working late and alone, De Patie was killed in a gas-and-dash incident.
His death sparked new safety rules, called Grant’s Law, that better protected workers. But under pressure from big corporations like Mac’s, the Christy Clark BC Liberal government watered down those protections in 2012.
“To understand the extent to which late night workers face danger, all you have to do is google ‘convenience store gas station robberies BC,’” says Caitlin Davidson-King, chairperson of the BCFED’s Young Workers’ Committee
Davidson-King says simply restoring the regulations the previous government eliminated—like requiring two workers to be on shift together, or to have a barrier in place to protect workers during late night shifts—would keep workers safer.
What: Protest for stronger safety protections for late night workers
When: Sat. April 14, 8:00 pm to 6:00 am Sun. April 15
Where: Mac’s Convenience Store, 2601 Commercial Drive, Vancouver
Media availability at 8:30 pm.
Vancouver - The BC Federation of Labour is applauding new legislation introduced today by NDP Labour Minister Harry Bains, Bill 9, that will help first responders with mental disorders caused by traumatic working conditions receive the treatment and compensation they deserve.
“First responders work in incredibly traumatic and stressful conditions,” says BCFED President Irene Lanzinger, “and their efforts are crucial to the well-being of our society,” she says.
“This new legislation is a compassionate response by government to the frequently gut-wrenching circumstances in which they work and the effect it has on their physical and mental well-being” she says.
Called the mental disorder presumption, it applies to firefighters, police, ambulance paramedics, sheriffs and correctional officers. The legislation will amend the existing Workers Compensation Act by presuming that first responders with diagnosed mental disorders like PTSD resulted from work-related causes. It means that these workers will not have to prove that their illness is caused by their work.
Lanzinger is pleased that the legislation also creates a process for other high-risk occupations—like nurses and health care professionals, for whom trauma and stress is also part of day-to-day work reality—to be covered by similar standards.
Vancouver - BCFED President Irene Lanzinger and Secretary-Treasurer Aaron Ekman are extending a warm welcome to almost 200 health care workers who’ve recently joined unions to make their workplaces better.
Some 75 staff at Rest Haven Lodge/Broadmead Care Society, a complex care facility in Victoria, became members of the BCGEU.
Also on Vancouver Island, 100 care aides, LPNs, activity aides and unit clerks at the Lodge on 4th multilevel care facility in Ladysmith voted overwhelming to join HEU. They chose the union advantage to want to improve wages, work conditions and greater fairness on the job.
Meanwhile, Lanzinger says the labour movement will continue to push to remove barriers for BC workers to join unions. “We know many workers support unions and want to join to address issues in the workplace,” she says. “But for 16 years the BC Liberals tilted labour laws in favour of employers and created barriers and roadblocks to make it difficult for workers to join.”
“We will continue our efforts to restore fairness and balance to the laws and the Labour Relations Board to level the playing field for working people in BC,” Lanzinger says.
Vancouver - The BC Federation of Labour welcomes strong provincial government action to protect patients from user fees charged by private clinics by putting into force parts of a law first adopted by the BC Liberals more than 15 years ago.
“Loopholes and long surgical waitlists created by the BC Liberals allowed private health operators to extra bill patients at will, “ says BCFED President Irene Lanzinger. “We salute the government for no longer turning a blind eye to the issue and making private clinics operate within the law.
The move comes after the federal government fined BC $16 million for violating the ban on extra billing. The penalty was levied after audits of private clinics showed a widespread and rampant user fee problem in BC.
The ban on extra billing comes after health minister Adrian Dix expanded funding for high profile surgical procedures like hips and knees, and increased the number of MRIs by 37,000 a year.
The BC Health Coalition applauded the government’s move to put an end to BC’s status as the “Wild West” of private billing. It will help build a faster, more efficient care public system, with fewer patients facing unaffordable private fees, the coalition says.
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.