Feed aggregator

Social Justice Fund supports female literacy program

Unifor -

The Unifor Social Justice Fund has donated $44,000 to OneProsper International to support female literacy programs in India’s Thar Desert.

“In this region there are contributing issues that prevent girls from earning an education,” said Raju Agarwal, Founder and CEO of OneProsper International. “With the help of the Unifor Social Justice Fund we are able to take a holistic approach towards solving the crisis in female literacy.”

In the Thar Desert, the spread of water-borne diseases is common and the girls, among India’s poorest, often spend up to seven hours a day collecting water. To allow them to get that time back, OneProsper International builds a tank on site with a seven-layer biosand filter to turn harvested rainwater into clean, potable water. Each tank is then inscribed with the name of the girl’s mother to show her daughter that women are important.

Women beneficiaries are taught water-smart farming methods that replenish depleting groundwater and increase crop yields. A farming dyke is installed to maximize irrigation, and seeds and farm training are provided to allow the family to grow fruits and vegetables to supplement their diet.

“Providing financial stability for the family creates the opportunity for the girls to pursue an education and a brighter future,” said Unifor International Director Mohamad Alsadi.

Each girl sponsored by OneProsper International is able to start school with the necessary support to continue until graduation. Donations to the charity pay for tuition, uniforms, school supplies and a bicycle for transportation.

The goal is for the family to become self-sufficient after the first year with the ability to continue to pay for their daughter’s education with farming profits.

This year OneProsper International aims to secure enough funding to send 1,000 girls to school. For more information visit oneprosper.org.

Young workers at Halifax Discovery Centre focus on diversity and inclusion to secure groundbreaking first agreement

Unifor -

Negotiating a first collective agreement is a challenging and often time-consuming process as a bargaining committee gets familiar with the process and works with the membership to determine priorities. For the newly-formed unit at the Halifax Discovery Centre, part of Local 4005, the group was steadfast from the beginning that diversity and inclusion be central to their proposals.

“The creativity and insight demonstrated by this group of workers was informed by their own experiences and they ended up with language that has inspired other locals, even in other unions,” said Darlene McIvor, National Representative.

One such creative item in their proposals was to have their CEO begin all public statements with an acknowledgement of being on unceded Mi’kmaq territory. This, unfortunately, did not make it into the final agreement, though an acknowledgement is printed at the beginning of their agreement. Another that was successfully adopted, is the inclusion of an annual labour-management meeting specifically for discussion around workplace diversity and inclusion.

“I’m especially happy that we outlined a specific labour-management communication process and that, should it not be followed, we have recourse through a grievance process,” said Japna Sidhu-Brar, member of the bargaining committee. 

Part-time workers will get an additional paid statutory holiday, and health and dental benefits, something many part-time workers are not provided. One day of leave with pay will also be granted as Citizenship Leave to allow a full-time employee to attend the Citizenship Court of Canada on the day they are to become a Canadian citizen.

“Many of us are students who came to Halifax from other parts of the world, and to acknowledge and respect a day as important as your citizenship ceremony is one way we can be welcoming of diversity in our workplace,” said Sidhu-Brar.

“We are incredibly proud of the hard work that has been put into bargaining this collective agreement,” said Jennifer Murray, Business Agent of Council 4000. “The resilience and determination of this committee is a true reflection of the strength and support from the entire membership.”

The workers, most of whom identify as young workers, ratified their first agreement by 92 per cent on July 15.

Countdown to Convention 2019

Unifor -

The countdown is on to Unifor’s third constitutional convention in Quebec City where the union will gather to celebrate our victories and plan for future fightback’s for our members.

“We have had one hell of a year, fighting employers and right wing governments and what we do at convention will set the stage for the next year of action as we fight for workers in the federal election,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.

Internationally renowned guest speakers and world-class entertainment will round out a week of constitutional debate, resolutions,  and video debuts in the capital of Quebec.

More than 2,000 delegates, dignitaries, staff and guests will descend upon the Quebec City Convention Centre.

Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo movement, will address convention, along with a senior federal government cabinet member, and several other quest speakers.

Blue Rodeo will perform an exclusive concert. Free, onsite childcare will be available, registration is online only and you must sign up by July 20.  Just select “Constitutional Convention 2019” under “Select an event.”

“Whatever It Takes” is the theme of Convention 2019 and members who attend are also in for some fun surprises.

Unifor grows in Kenney’s Alberta

Unifor -

Within months of the election of the right wing government of Jason Kenney in Alberta, Unifor is growing in the province with a strong vote by workers at the Sheraton Suites Calgary Eau Claire hotel to join Unifor.

“These workers showed real determination to join Unifor, even in the face of anti-union legislation being brought in by Kenney,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.

Organizing Director Kellie Scanlan said the workers at the hotel showed great strength and solidarity throughout the campaign.

“Thanks to their hard work, supported by the Organizing Department, they have a voice in their workplace at a time when their provincial government is trying to take it away.”

The 170 workers at the hotel voted by a two-thirds majority to join Unifor last week. The votes were counted Tuesday after a dispute over membership was settled with the employer.

Unifor’s newest members in the hospitality sector includes housekeeping, food and beverage, banquet, front desk, maintenance and other staff. They join Unifor’s approximately 20,000 gaming and hospitality members across Canada.

Understaffing, workload and deteriorating working conditions were the top issues in the organizing drive, which was led by many of the original workers at the landmark downtown hotel, build in 1999.

Besides labour law changes limiting overtime and holiday pay, and cutting the minimum wage for young workers, Kenney eliminated automatic certification for new bargaining units introduced by the previous NDP government just two years ago.

Assaults on bus drivers still considered part of the job by WorkSafeBC

Unifor -

A disturbingly high number of transit operators are assaulted while on the job, but WorkSafeBC routinely denies compensation by claiming that it’s ‘part of the job.’

“More than 100 bus drivers are attacked every year in B.C.,” said Unifor Western Regional Director Joie Warnock. “Assaults are not part of the job. And it’s high time WorkSafeBC recognized that physically and mentally injured workers need and deserve compensation.”

Tana MacKay is a bus driver with Unifor’s Health and Safety Committee in Victoria. She advocates for injured workers and recently spoke at a government review of WorkSafeBC policies.

“I know bus drivers who have been beaten up and then, while still recovering are smothered by forms, paperwork and personal questions, which delays their claim,” she said. “The trauma of an assault can cause PTSD and other mental health problems, but WorkSafeBC frequently denies those claims.”

B.C. Transit has announced it will move forward with installing shields to separate drivers from the public on buses across the province by 2022. While safety barriers are a common feature on European buses, here in Canada, the only other transit authority to equip its buses with barriers is Toronto.

In 2015, federal politicians amended the criminal code to make it harder for judges to give light sentences to offenders who assault workers.

Unifor represents more than 4000 transit operators in Metro Vancouver. In Victoria, Local 333 represents 750 bus drivers, mechanics, maintenance and other workers at BC Transit operations.

If you live in B.C. and want to give your feedback re WorkSafeBC take the online questionnaire until July 19thhttps://feedback.engage.gov.bc.ca/714556?lang=en