On March 7, 2007, three farm workers were killed and other workers were injured in the roll over of an overloaded van taking them to work. Sukhvinder Kaur Punia, Amarjit Kaur Bal and Sarabjit Kaur Sidhu died in the accident. Since this tragic incident, the Federation has worked with the families to highlight health and safety issues for farmworkers, including the installation of the Golden Tree Monument in the memory of all farmworkers killed and injured on the job.
Please join the BCFED and the families at the 2019 vigil. Reception begins at 11:30am with ceremony at 12:30pm.
The 2019 Women’s March takes place this Saturday, January 19.
The theme for this year’s March On Vancouver is Resist! Persist!
This is the third year that people of all backgrounds have come together to march to empower, inspire, unite and lead the charge for advancement of women across Canada and the world.
We encourage members to take part in a march in their area this year, and to share their stories on social media using the hashtag #womenswave.
Click for a list of events across BC:
Here is a list of all the marches taking place in communities across BC:
• Comox Valley (420 Cumberland Road, Courtenay), 10:30 am to 12:30 pm;
• Fraser Valley (Ann Davis Transition Society – 9046 Young Road, Chilliwack), 11 am to 1 pm;
• Grand Forks (Central Avenue and 5th Street, Grand Forks), 10 am to 1 pm;
• Nanaimo (Lions Pavillion in Maffeo Sutton Park, 100 Comox Road, Nanaimo), 10:30 am to 2 pm;
• Nelson (Nelson City Hall, 310 Ward St., Nelson), 11 am to 1 pm;
• Salt Spring Island (Library Steps Salt Spring Island, Hereford Ave., Salt Spring Island) , 1 pm to 2:30 pm;
• Vancouver (Vancouver Art Gallery, Hornby St. at Georgia, Vancouver), 10 am to 12 pm;
• Victoria (Legislature Building, 501 Belleville St., Victoria), 11 am to 2 pm.
Vancouver - The BC Federation of Labour says it’s disappointed by the results of the referendum on proportional representation, which favoured the no side.
“But,” says BCFED President Laird Cronk, “the months-long debate about how to make our voting system more democratic and ensure that every vote counts has been mostly positive and a healthy outcome of the process. It’s been an important conversation to have.”
“The first-past-the-post system where 40% of the votes gives a political party 100% of the power has never been friendly to working people,” Cronk says. “Governments matter, and which political party holds power can have dramatically positive, or more frequently, negative impact on the lives of working people.”
With the referendum complete, Cronk says the labour movement will turn to a host of other important issues like restoring fairness and balance in BC’s Labour Code, making workplaces safer for workers, expanding skills training and apprenticeships to address labour shortages and provide opportunities for young people, and strengthening employment standards for all workers in the province.
Cronk expects Premier Horgan and BC’s NDP government to continue to chart a progressive course for the economy, public services and the environment.
Vancouver - Union members and volunteers are ready to serve up to 3,000 people at the 24th Annual Labour Community Christmas Dinner. Media are invited to attend the annual event.
Date: December 24, 2018
Time: 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Locations: Maritime Labour Centre, 1880 Triumph Street, Vancouver & Whalley Legion, 13525 106 Avenue, Surrey
The 24th Annual Labour Community Christmas Dinner will serve a spectacular family turkey dinner on Christmas Eve at Vancouver’s Maritime Labour Centre and Whalley’s Royal Canadian Legion Upper Auditorium in North Surrey.
Following the turkey and trimmings, every family will head home with a hamper of food, vegetables, clothes and toys for children.
“Our annual dinner is one of the many ways that the labour movement gives back to the community,” says Laird Cronk, President of the BC Federation of Labour.
Over 3,000 people and families take part in this annual tradition.
The Federation gratefully acknowledges the support of the Canadian Fishing Company, the Overwaitea Food Group, BC Fresh Vegetables, Community Savings and many other supporters and donors.
The BC Federation of Labour is supporting the findings of a government report released today that—when implemented—will better protect workers from the severe health and safety risks posed by exposure to materials that contain asbestos.
“After years of lobbying for government to take this issue seriously, we applaud Victoria’s call for licensing and certification requirements for contractors, and increased training for workers that will reduce exposure,” says BCFED President Laird Cronk.
"Exposure to asbestos is the deadliest health and safety risk for BC workers," says Cronk. “Asbestos-related diseases are the number one killer of workers in BC, and workers continue to be exposed to asbestos every day in construction and a variety of other industries.
“That’s why it’s so important that we move as quickly as possible from consultation to concrete action which is long overdue to keep workers safe, and protect the general public as well,” Cronk says.
“We look forward to working with all levels of government and employers to make that happen, and to establish more stringent penalties on employers for violations of the new rules.”
As BC Labour Minister Harry Bains considers changes to strengthen protections for all workers in the province, a report and recommendations from a legal group fail overall to address the urgent need for change, says the BC Federation of Labour.
Under the BC Liberal government both basic standards and funding for the Employment Standards Branch were slashed. Workers were left with few rights and little support. Workers mistreated by their employers were abandoned and handed a self-help kit.
“The Law Institute review begins to address some of the deficiencies in the Act, but overall the recommendations are too cautious and fail to undo the 16 years of damage inflicted by the BC Liberal government,” said Laird Cronk, President of the BCFED.
The BCLI report includes some positive recommendations that the BCFED supports, including:
• ending the mandatory use of the self-help kit;
• heightening enforcement to stop the misclassification of employees as contractors; and
• returning to a minimum call-in pay of four hours.
However, the review fails to include recommendations in several significant areas. While the report recommends a review of exemptions to the Act, it does not call for the immediate elimination of differential work conditions. “Employment standards should be universal. They must apply to everyone.
This makes it easier for workers and employers to know the rules, simplifies enforcement, and treats all workers and workplaces equally,” said Cronk.
The report fails to mention paid leave for domestic and intimate partner violence. “Domestic and intimate partner violence take a toll on both the personal and work life of those affected,” said Sussanne Skidmore, Secretary Treasurer of the BCFED. “Access to paid leave for survivors of violence to find safety and seek support is a necessary step in ensuring that our laws address the whole worker.” Both Manitoba and Ontario already provide paid leave.
Finally, the report contains few recommendations to make work better. There is no majority recommendation to implement paid sick leave, increase vacation pay or better protect workers’ tips and gratuities. Unlike the BC Law Institute report, the Ontario Changing Workplace Review more comprehensively addressed today’s workplaces and the impacts of rising precarity and the gig economy. It is a far more comprehensive and impactful document.
“The BC NDP government has an opportunity to address the real needs of working people who we know are finding it harder and harder to thrive in our province. We urge the BC government to look beyond this report and make much more bold changes to our employment laws,” said Cronk.
The following is a statement from Laird Cronk and Sussanne Skidmore on December 10th International Human Rights Day
International Human Rights Day was established on December 10, 1948, the day the Universal Human Rights Declaration was declared by the United Nations.
Today on the 70th anniversary of the UN’s Human Rights Day, the BC Federation of Labour is turning its attention to article number one of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that all “all human beings are born free and equal in rights and dignity.”
Unfortunately, this has proven to not be the case for far too many of our communities. Indigenous people, people of colour, people with disabilities and LGBTQ people are disproportionately impoverished, kept out of opportunities to advance, and denied access to social services that are meant to shield people from poverty.
The BCFED has been working to make life better and raise the floor for all working people in BC for years. Recently, the Federation proposed to the Minister’s Advisory Forum on Poverty Reduction a number of initiatives that would help level the playing field for workers of equity seeking groups in the province. These proposals included strengthening and enforcing employment standards, eliminating the piece rate for farm workers, improving conditions for migrant workers, and making BC a sanctuary province.
This fall, John Horgan and the BC NDP government announced the Poverty Reduction Strategy Act, setting a target of a 50% reduction in child poverty and a 25% reduction in the overall poverty rate in the next five years.
We are encouraged by this move from the provincial government, but we know that one of the best ways to ensure equity for workers in standard of living is to make it easier for workers to join unions. A collective agreement that is enforced and upheld by a union that negotiates in its members’ best interests is an opportunity for a life free from the turmoil that poverty brings upon families.
As you celebrate International Human Rights Day today, we encourage you to urge your friends and family members to form unions in their workplaces, to guard our communities against poverty and inequity.
The following is a statement from Laird Cronk and Sussanne Skidmore, President and Secretary-Treasurer of the BC Federation of Labour regarding December 6th National Day of Remembrance and Action Against Violence Against Women:
December 6th is a day where we take stock of society’s progress on eradicating gender-based violence. But we continue to be inundated by stories of women coming forward about violence in their homes, workplaces and communities. The message this year that we are all hearing is that we are not there yet.
For well over a year now, survivors have been sharing their stories of personal violence at work, at home, in their communities, and on social media. These reports have created a worldwide outcry for real change.
The UN’s theme this year for the sixteen days of activism to end violence against women is Orange the World: #HearMeToo, and was formed in recognition of the various social media movements exposing millions upon millions of personal experiences of women and girls all over the world. Orange was chosen as the colour for this global campaign as it encourages a look to a brighter future, free from violence against women and girls.
The work of the BCFED Women’s Rights and Occupational Health and Safety committees has been largely focused on gender-based violence this year. This past spring, the BCFED lobbied the provincial government around how to make life at home and at work safer for women in communities across our province.
The work of the BCFED and many other organizations is having a positive effect. The provincial government has moved to restore some funding gutted from women’s shelters and support programs by the BC Liberals, and has enacted leave provisions in the Employment Standards Act for people fleeing violence at home.
As we remember the massacre 29 years ago of fourteen women at L'École Polytechnique in Montreal, we resolve to honour their memory and the memory of all others who have been stolen from us due to gender-based violence and keep fighting for an end to violence against women and girls in our homes, our workplaces and everywhere.
Vancouver - With the release today of details of its clean growth strategy, the BC government has taken a number of promising steps to chart a course for clean, sustainable economic growth that sets new and stringent carbon reduction targets, says the BC Federation of Labour.
“Every day British Columbians experience the impacts of climate change on our personal lives, the well-being of our families and communities, and on our environment,” says BCFED President Laird Cronk.
“Clearly we need to act. But developing a new path forward to stem the tide of climate change is an immense challenge—and one that our government has begun to address in today’s clean growth launch.
“It’s the biggest and boldest plan for economic transformation in our province’s history,” Cronk says, noting that the upcoming budget in February will spell out more financial details for the plan."
Cronk says it’s critical that any plan address the fear of the unknown that many British Columbians will feel.
“It means that government will have to deal concretely with issues around affordability so that no one is left behind by the new economic blueprint,” he says. “It also means addressing the impacts of the transition on working people, their families and communities.
“The government’s clean growth strategy represents a historic opportunity to develop a new, sustainable economy that works for working people in all communities across the province.
“We’re committed to working together on just and fair transition strategies to protect existing workers and to ensure that new employment opportunities created by the Clean BC plan are good, family and community-supporting jobs," says Cronk.
Concrete recommendations to improve the operation of the BC Labour Relations Code are long overdue. In the fifteen years since the Code was last reviewed a lot has changed.
The imbalance of the current Code, its application, and lack of coverage of certain sectors result in it being increasingly difficult for workers to form unions and regain some control over both their work and personal lives.
The Code desperately needs both modernization and balance to ensure that it reflects workers’ Charter rights and protects the needs of all workers in our province.