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School bus system crisis continues due to government inaction

Unifor -

September 17, 2020

TORONTO – Unifor, Ontario’s largest school bus driver union, maintains that the crisis in the school bus system continues due to inaction by the provincial government.

“I hear Education Minister Stephen Lecce saying that his government is doing everything possible to address the driver shortage and concerns about safety aboard school buses but that simply isn’t the case,” said Debbie Montgomery, President of Unifor Local 4268. “While it’s true the province has designated some funds towards health and safety and driver retention the fundamental issue remains the lack of provincial standards to go with those dollars.”

As students return to schools across the province there are widespread school bus route cancellations happening in several jurisdictions.

As far back as July, Unifor warned that urgent action was needed to ensure that school buses would be able to return to their routes when classes resumed. On August 13, the union sent Premier Ford, Minister Lecce and Minister Mulroney a statement on behalf of drivers calling on the government to address five key concerns, including guaranteed access to PPE, limits on the number of passengers to allow for social distancing, and proper sanitation of busses.

Drivers reiterated that call during a media conference on August 25, where they shared their first hand knowledge of the variety of measures planned at different school bus carriers and school boards.

“We have been clear on driver’s concerns and they have yet to be addressed,” said Montgomery. “We have drivers receiving manifests with upwards of 70 kids on-board, no social distancing and instances where drivers are receiving inadequate PPE supplies, some of which are substandard quality. This is the result of throwing money at student transportation without a plan to enforce consistent standards.”

The majority of Ontario school bus drivers are above 60 years old, considered a higher risk group for COVID-19.

“Knowing the demographic of drivers, the government should be doing everything in its power in terms of COVID-19 safety protocols to maximize the number who feel safe to return and prevent the loss of additional drivers, which I guarantee will happen if they fail again to move on this,” said Montgomery.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector and represents 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

For media inquiries or to arrange a phone, Facetime, or Zoom interview with Debbie Montgomery please contact Unifor Communications Representative Kathleen O’Keefe at kathleen.okeefe@unifor.org or 416-896-3303 (cell).

National Executive Vice-President Resigns 

PSAC -

PSAC’s National Executive Vice-Present (NEVP), Magali Picard, announced her resignation today.  “It is with a heavy heart today that I announce my resignation. The past month has been a difficult one, personally and...

New report confirms truckers’ worst fears for black market

Unifor -

September 17, 2020

VANCOUVER—An independent report commissioned by the Office of BC Container Trucking Commissioner confirms that there is a growing two-tier system of “off-dock” container shipping at Port Metro Vancouver and that many current licensees are actively involved in this destabilizing behaviour.

“It’s time to act. Zero doubt remains about a thriving black market that undermines legitimate business,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Law-abiding truckers deserve justice.”

Despite decisions by the Commissioner that have resulted in millions of dollars of unpaid wages and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, the report reveals that at least 45 per cent of these same licensed companies were actively using non-tagged trucks and engaging in chassis swapping to avoid paying the regulated rates.

The Cascadia report says that chassis swapping occurs in parking lots to avoid paying the regulated rates and the resulting gap in rates between unlicensed and licensed truckers is as much as $85 per trip, less than half the price. The problem is so widespread that some licenced companies have a shadow workforce of unlicensed or “untagged” truckers while others use affiliated companies to lower costs and driver compensation.

“Unlicensed trucking threatens to imminently disrupt labour peace at the port,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director. “This is a major problem that calls for long overdue, comprehensive action by the provincial government.”

Last month Unifor wrote to the Minister of Labour and the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure to demand that the Commissioner be given more tools to properly monitor off-dock shipments in order to stamp out unlicensed operators. Unifor has consistently raised this issue for several years. Failure to act earlier has led to a massive growth in this unregulated market and a potential collapse in regulated rates.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

For media inquiries or to arrange interviews via Facetime, Zoom, or Skype please contact Unifor Communications Representative Ian Boyko at ian.boyko@unifor.org or 778-903-6549 (cell).

Offshore workers call on government to stabilize industry

Unifor -

September 16, 2020

ST. JOHN’S—Hundreds of workers in the offshore oil and gas industry rallied at the Newfoundland and Labrador legislature today to demand protection from the turbulence in the industry caused by falling global oil prices and the COVID-19 economic slump.

“Strategic investments by both levels of government can help this industry, these workers, these families, weather a temporary downturn so that offshore can continue to be one of the region’s most valuable industries,” said Linda McNeil, Unifor Atlantic Regional Director in the rally streamed live on Facebook.

Unifor is calling on the federal and provincial government to make strategic investments in the industry to ensure that Canada’s energy industry remains healthy and well-positioned to continue the transition to lower carbon alternatives.

“The energy sector’s good jobs and millions of dollars in royalties have strengthened the economy for decades,” said Dave Mercer, President of Unifor Local 2121, the union for workers on Hibernia and Terra Nova. “During this time of need, the government needs to stand up for offshore workers and form new partnerships for Canada’s energy future.”

Unifor represents 700 workers on the Hibernia platform and the Terra Nova. 

Video of the rally can be downloaded here.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

For media inquiries or to arrange interviews via Facetime, Zoom, or Skype please contact Unifor Communications Representative Ian Boyko at ian.boyko@unifor.org or 778-903-6549 (cell).

 

Unifor to rally for offshore oil and gas workers at legislature

Unifor -

September 15, 2020

ST. JOHN’S— Offshore oil and gas workers and their supporters will rally at Confederation Building to demand all levels of government take urgent action to help save the industry and protect good jobs.

“Offshore oil and gas is integral to the economy,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “The time has come for government to show these workers that we have their back when times are tough. We need action, and we need it now if we’re going to save offshore jobs.”

What: Rally to support offshore oil and gas workers

Who: Linda MacNeil, Unifor Atlantic Regional Director; Dave Mercer, Local 2121 President; Amanda Young, worker on the Terra Nova; Carmilita Synard, worker on the Hibernia; Mary Shortall, President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour; Charlene Johnson, Chief Executive Officer NOIA; other invited guests.

When: Wednesday, September 16, 2020 at 12 p.m. NDT

Where: Front steps of Confederation Building, St. John’s, NL

The event will be livestreamed to fb.com/UniforCanada. A downloadable 4K video will be available for unrestricted use by members of the media following the event, upon request via email below.

There will be a media availability with all speakers immediately after the rally. All precautions will be taken to respect COVID-19 guidelines and best practices at the event.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

To arrange for interviews, in-person or via Zoom, Skype or Facetime, please contact Unifor Communications Representative Ian Boyko at ian.boyko@unifor.org or 778-903-6549 (cell).

Unifor welcomes restoration of normal aluminum trade with the U.S.

Unifor -

September 15, 2020

TORONTO—Canada’s aluminum workers welcomed the removal of unfair U.S. tariffs and credit the federal government’s strong response for today’s win.

“This dispute was no doubt resolved thanks to the stance taken by Justin Trudeau’s government and the efforts led by Chrystia Freeland and Mary Ng,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “It was the impending countermeasures that helped U.S. trade representatives realize that Canada was not going to take this lying down.”

On August 16 the U.S. imposed tariffs on Canada’s exports of P1020 aluminum. Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland responded by releasing an initial proposal of countermeasures and consulted with Canadian industry experts and Unifor.

“Workers on both sides of the border would lose in an aluminum trade war,” said Dias. “Canada has done nothing wrong to warrant aluminum tariffs. We welcome the resumption of normal trade relations.”

Unifor has repeatedly warned that tariffs on Canadian aluminum exports are an unfair attempt to help a handful of struggling U.S. producers and that tariffs cause harm to the wider American economy.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

For media inquiries or to arrange interviews via Facetime, Zoom, or Skype please contact Unifor Communications Representative Ian Boyko at ian.boyko@unifor.org or 778-903-6549 (cell).

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