Latest Labour News

Unifor transforms children’s lives in Ethopia

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The Unifor Social Justice Fund (SJF) is working to improve the lives of children with its support of Transforming Faces and Beautiful World initiatives in Ethiopia.

Shauna Wilcox, Unifor National Executive Board member representing health care and Jean Walters, Unifor National Representative, recently had the opportunity to observe the profound impact of the projects firsthand.

Transforming Faces is dedicated to providing comprehensive care for children with a cleft lip and/or palate, one of the most common birth anomalies in the world. A cleft occurs when a baby’s lip and/or palate do not fuse properly during pregnancy, causing an opening in the baby’s lip, roof of their mouth, or both. This impacts more than a child’s physical appearance as children born with cleft lip and palate commonly develop speech and communication problems, even after surgery.

The Unifor Social Justice Fund has been instrumental in launching a brand new undergraduate speech therapy program. This year the first two cohorts of speech students will graduate, bringing the number of speech professionals practicing in Ethiopia from two to eighteen. Unifor representatives Wilcox and Walters were able to celebrate this major milestone by meeting several students from the inaugural class.

“One does not make a visit like this and not be forever impacted. It was truly inspiring to see the smiles on the faces of the young children whose lives have been forever changed and the smiles and tears of gratitude of their parents,” said Wilcox. “I have so much admiration for the people who put the money to use on the frontline; they are truly a committed and dedicated team.”

Additionally, the Unifor Social Justice Fund has allowed Transforming Faces to expand speech therapy services in rural communities, with a partnership with Project Harar to train community speech assistants to provide home-based speech support to rural patients in the patient’s own language.

Wilcox and Walters meet the Project Harar Ethiopia team

“Transforming Faces is grateful for our long-term partnership with the Unifor Social Justice Fund,” said Hugh Brewster, Executive Director of Transforming Faces. “The development of the speech therapy profession in Ethiopia is a true example of the long-lasting, life-changing work that has been made possible with Unifor’s support.”

At Yekatit 12 Hospital, the only comprehensive cleft care centre in Ethiopia, to brief the Cleft Unit on the Unifor Social Justice Fund mission.

The Beautiful World Canada Foundation is also working for a better future by providing secondary and post-secondary scholarships to Ethiopian girls who have academic potential but lack the financial means to pursue higher education opportunities.

“We met young women who are aspiring nurses, doctors, lawyers and entrepreneurs,” said Walters. “This experience was an emotional rollercoaster that left me immensely gratified.”

Beautiful World operates in several African countries and has recently expanded into Ethiopia in collaboration with the Reach One Touch One Ministries.

“The support of our program in Ethiopia by the Unifor Social Justice Fund has allowed 25 vulnerable girls the opportunity to achieve their dreams of attending school,” said Sara Dunkley, Founder and Board Chair of Beautiful World Canada Foundation. “They dream of a life free from poverty, of a career that provides a steady income and continuity, of a life much different than the very difficult one they have known.”

Meeting with Beautiful World scholarship families

The majority of the recipients are HIV orphans, being raised by grandmothers or other family members. “The students feel deeply blessed to be in school and are committed to working hard and doing their best,” said Dunkley. “They have big dreams to help their families and community once they graduate.” 

The scholarships provide everything the students require for success, ranging from tuition to toothpaste. The young women also receive additional support through mentorship, employment training and medical care programs.

“I had the honour through Transforming Faces and Beautiful World to visit Ethiopia and witness the inception of two great programs that are making change a reality for children,” summed up Walters. “I am incredibly proud of our union’s support of these charities through the Social Justice Fund.”

For more information visit unifor.org/sjf.

Senate urged to act on Bill C-262 and protect the rights of Indigenous People

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Unifor is calling on the Senate of Canada to pass Bill C-262 to protect the collective and individual rights of Indigenous People, before it breaks for the summer.

The House of Commons passed Bill C-262, introduced by Quebec MP Romeo Saganash, on May 30, 2018. The bill ensures that Canadian laws are consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP).

“The adoption and implementation of the UNDRIP was among the actions recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “The Senate has a duty to all Canadians and Indigenous People to pass this bill.”

Last year, the union organized the Truth, Reconciliation and Education conference that focused on educating members about racism and colonialism inflicted on Indigenous People.

“Our members have been working alongside Indigenous communities, pressuring the Federal Government to implement the findings of the truth and reconciliation report,” said Dias. “This is just one more way in which we can continue to support Indigenous People.”

Unifor supports the 150 Acts of Reconciliation movement providing average Canadians 150 everyday actions that they can undertake to show solidarity to Indigenous People.

To learn more about the 150 Acts of Reconciliation movement click here.

Unifor members making a difference in the Alberta election campaign

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As elections go, it’s a nail biter.  Albertans will vote for a new provincial government on April 16 and the polls show it could be close, which is why Unifor members are fully engaged.

“I’m so proud of our members who have stepped up to the plate to help with this campaign,” said Joie Warnock, Unifor’s Western Regional Director. “They know how important this election is -   to their families, their communities and the province’s future. We risk losing so much.”

NDP Premier Rachel Notley is fighting for Alberta’s future and a strong economy that preserves public health care, education and worker’s rights.

United Conservative Party (UCP) leader Jason Kenney is planning cuts to all of those, including a cut to overtime pay for workers.

Unifor members are working hard to make sure that doesn’t happen. Across the province, members are door knocking, speaking up and making calls to encourage fellow members to vote and get involved.

Unifor is asking members to click here to ‘Take the Pledge’ to vote on April 16 and in advance polls on which start on Tuesday, April 9.

‘Unifor Votes Alberta’ is a member to member campaign with a goal of ensuring Rachel Notley is re-elected. Click here to see the campaign website and more information on the key issues at stake in this election.

Members can sign up to volunteer for canvassing at this link.

“Jason Kenney’s polling numbers remain strong.  That’s why we are doing everything we can to ensure he doesn’t succeed on April 16th and if you live in Alberta, please get involved,” said Unifor political organizer Erin Harrison who is coordinating the union’s 28 day campaign.

To help motivate members to go to the polls, Unifor has posted info that provides more information about the top five issues: economy and jobs; healthcare; workers protections and rights; education and energy jobs. “The opposing forces are strong and well funded by business interests that stand to make enormous financial gains from Jason Kenney’s billion dollar plan for corporate tax cuts.  Make no mistake, those cuts will be on the backs of workers,” said Warnock.  

The UCP campaign has been dogged by repeated scandals, including homophobic candidates who want teachers fired for being gay, an RCMP investigation into the UCP leadership race, planned cuts to public services and a ban on workers’ overtime.

Follow our campaign on Facebook here or on Twitter @uniforvotesalberta.

Unifor members making a difference in the Alberta election campaign

Unifor -

As elections go, it’s a nail biter.  Albertans will vote for a new provincial government on April 16 and the polls show it could be close, which is why Unifor members are fully engaged

“I’m so proud of our members who have stepped up to the plate to help with this campaign,” said Joie Warnock, Unifor’s Western Regional Director. “They know how important this election is -   to their families, their communities and the province’s future. We risk losing so much.”

NDP Premier Rachel Notley is fighting for Alberta’s future and a strong economy that preserves public health care, education and worker’s rights.

United Conservative Party (UCP) leader Jason Kenney is planning cuts to all of those, including a cut to overtime pay for workers.

Unifor members are working hard to make sure that doesn’t happen. Across the province, members are door knocking, speaking up and making calls to encourage fellow members to vote and get involved.

Unifor is asking members to click here to ‘Take the Pledge’ to vote on April 16 and in advance polls on which start on Tuesday, April 9.

‘Unifor Votes Alberta’ is a member to member campaign with a goal of ensuring Rachel Notley is re-elected. Click here to see the campaign website and more information on the key issues at stake in this election.

Members can sign up to volunteer for canvassing at this link.

“Despite many scandals, Jason Kenney’s polling numbers remain strong.  That’s why we are doing everything we can to ensure he doesn’t succeed on April 16th and if you live in Alberta, please get involved,” said Unifor political organizer Erin Harrison who is coordinating the union’s 28 day campaign. Harrison is a National Representative in the Membership Mobilization and Political Action Department.

To help motivate members to go to the polls, Unifor has posted info that provides more information about the top five issues: economy and jobs; healthcare; workers protections and rights; education and energy jobs. “The opposing forces are strong and well funded by business interests that stand to make enormous financial gains from Jason Kenney’s billion dollar plan for corporate tax cuts.  Make no mistake, those cuts will be on the backs of workers,” said Warnock.  

The UCP campaign has been dogged by repeated scandals, including homophobic candidates who want teachers fired for being gay, an RCMP investigation into the UCP leadership race, planned cuts to public services and a ban on workers’ overtime.

Follow our campaign on Facebook here or on Twitter @uniforvotesalberta.

Unifor members Rally for Education

Unifor -

Unifor members showed up in force to lend their voices to the thousands who attended the Rally for Education to oppose devastating changes to Ontario’s education system by the Conservative government.

“It is clear that Ford is hell-bent on implementing his corporate agenda with no qualms about injuring the most vulnerable or tearing down cherished institutions, as witnessed by his attack on elementary and highschool students and their teachers,” said National President Jerry Dias.

After a mass student walkout on Thursday, protesters filled the lawn of the Queen’s Park legislature on Saturday April 6, 2019, spilling out onto surrounding streets. Teachers, parents, students and workers united to demand a halt to plans to increase class sizes and eliminate thousands of teacher and support jobs.

Education Ministry memos acquired by the Toronto Star report that the Conservatives plan to cut 3,475 teaching jobs in Ontario. The average secondary school expected to see a loss of 11 full time teachers.

The Conservative government intends to:

  • Increase class sizes in grades 4-8 and in high school; reducing attention given to students and limiting access to equipment and other resources
  • Cut thousands of teacher and support staff jobs
  • Remove 1.4 billion dollars from the public education system
  • Download the government’s duty to support higher needs students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) onto schools without adequate funding
  • Require students to take several online courses; replacing personal attention with e-learning
  • Introduce a regressive sexual education curriculum

“Doug Ford is risking the future of students by eroding the very foundation of the public education system,” said Dias. “The people of Ontario will not tolerate this attack on our schools, our teachers and our children.”

The massive rally, organized by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSS), the Elementary Teacher’s Federation of Ontario (ETFO) and sister unions followed province-wide student walkouts to protest the cuts to elementary and highschool education. In response, Premier Doug Ford and Education Minister Lisa Thompson opted to attack workers instead of responding to the legitimate concerns of the tens of thousands of students who expressed their opposition.

“Ontarians, including high school and post-secondary students, are organizing massively successful grassroots actions to demonstrate opposition to the Conservatives’ destructive agenda,” said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor Ontario Regional Director. “I commend the brave young activists who have organized rallies, walkouts, and strikes. Students and teachers deserve respect and acknowledgement from their government, not dismissal and cruelty.”

This is not the first time that Ford’s government has shown distain for students and public education. In addition to the changes at elementary and highschools the Ford government has also targeted postsecondary students by slashing OSAP, cutting $307.3 million in funding, cancelling three university satellite campuses and attacking students’ unions by forcing institutions to allow opt-out of democratically determined fees.

“Ontario workers are standing united against these cuts,” said Dias. “Unifor is in solidarity with students, teachers, and their unions.”

View a photo gallery of the Rally for Education here

 

 

 

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