• Canada’s unions mark Human Rights Day by challenging rising racism and discrimination
    by cstdenis on December 10, 2018 at 2:58 pm

    Canada’s unions are marking International Human Rights Day and the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by calling on Canadians to collectively confront racism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia.With hate crimes on the rise, the Canadian Labour Congress is encouraging people to endorse the Charter for Inclusive Communities which promotes “inclusive, just, and respectful communities in Canada”.Recent data released by Statistics Canada shows that police-reported hate crimes in Canada rose dramatically in 2017, up by 47% over the previous year. Incidents targeting the Muslim community rose by 151%. Hate crimes targeting Jewish people rose by 63% and those targeting Black people rose by 50%. “The hate crime numbers are profoundly disturbing,” said CLC President, Hassan Yussuff. “Canada has been a proud champion of human rights, at home and abroad. These numbers illustrate the impact of ongoing normalization of hatred. While Canada continues to address its painful legacy of colonialism, it must additionally do more to promote values of diversity, acceptance, and inclusion. We must work collectively to confront all forms of racism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia.”As well, Canada’s unions have joined in the call for January 29th to be recognized as a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia. The date marks the tragic anniversary of the Quebec mosque massacre in which a gunman killed six people and severely wounded eight more.In the 2018 budget, the federal government committed to additional funding to help support anti-racism initiatives. In addition to $2 million already allocated to anti-racism engagement, the government announced:$21 million was added to strengthen the Multiculturalism program’s resources for anti-racism and discrimination community support. This included additional funding for events and projects that address racism and discrimination with a priority on Indigenous Peoples as well as women and girls;$19 million was allocated to enhance local community supports for Black Canadian youth and to develop research in support of more culturally focused mental health programs for Black Canadians.“It’s imperative that any new funding support the varied needs of communities”, said Yussuff. “This means the federal government must continue to consult with those most impacted by racism, and ensure their voices inform policies intended to remove barriers to participation. This is how we can truly promote inclusive communities.” Issue:  Human Rights & Equality Racialized Workers […]

  • Paid leave can help break the cycle of domestic violence
    by cstdenis on December 6, 2018 at 6:04 pm

    As published in the Globe and MailNearly three decades after the massacre of 14 women at Montreal’s École Polytechnique, we continue to grapple with the shameful reality that far too many women face violence, harassment and abuse in their lives.While we haven’t yet been able to eradicate all violence against women, we can eliminate barriers that prevent people from leaving abusive relationships.This is why Canada’s unions have called on the federal government, and every province and territory, to legislate paid leave for those experiencing domestic violence.Several governments have risen to the challenge. Manitoba was the first jurisdiction to amend its employment standards to give all workers access to five paid days of domestic violence leave, with an additional 10 unpaid days, and up to 17 weeks of continuous unpaid leave for those who might need it.Momentum has been building to extend this provision to workers across the country. Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Ontario and the federal government all offer between three and five paid days to workers in their jurisdictions. Quebec has two paid days, which can be used for a range of purposes including domestic violence leave.Economic security helps give workers who experience domestic violence the stability they need to leave a violent relationship. Paid leave means they have time during the workday to deal with the effects of violence and do the things they need to do to keep themselves and their children safe.Despite the momentum, we hear a number of persistent fears and concerns from some employers and governments. Let’s look at the facts:Domestic violence is more than a personal problem — it affects the workplace.Domestic violence has a significant impact – directly and indirectly – on work attendance and productivity, costing Canadian employers $77.9-million annually. In our 2014 survey, more than 80 per cent of survivors reported that domestic violence negatively affected their job performance and 53 per cent said they experienced violence at or near their workplace. Forty per cent of those affected by domestic violence were prevented from getting to work and 8.5 per cent lost their job.Paid leave provides security and promotes safety.Most women living in violent relationships experience some form of financial control and monitoring by their partners. If taking domestic violence leave results in the reduction of a paycheque, the unintended result of unpaid leave might be the escalation of violence and risk. If women are trying to leave, they’ll need financial security, particularly if they need to sort out new living arrangements, legal expenses, counselling or other costs.Employers can afford this.The costs to employers are likely to be offset by benefits, including reduced turnover and improved productivity. Studies of Australian employers who administer paid domestic violence leave have shown that the average number of days absent is between two and three. Estimates show that incremental payments to workers taking the leave would amount to one-fiftieth of 1 per cent (0.02 per cent) of current payrolls.Employment insurance isn't the right fix.EI benefits are not appropriate for intermittent leave. You can’t expect someone to go through the administrative burden of applying for employment insurance so they can get a half day off work to open a new bank account or find a safe place to live.The goal of domestic violence leave is to help people keep their jobs, not force them to withdraw from work.Supporting employees in these circumstances will ultimately help keep everyone safe.No one is expecting employers or unions to fix or end domestic violence. But workplaces can be an important source of support to a worker who is struggling with a difficult situation.Furthermore, when someone experiencing domestic violence leaves their abuser, they may be targeted at work. Clear workplace polices and a range of supports, including paid leave and safety planning, can help employers fulfill their workplace safety obligations and manage risk.As we mark Dec. 6, let us vow to remove the barriers that continue to exist in the lives of those wanting to flee abuse and violence. It’s a small effort that means a lot to the most vulnerable among us.Hassan Yussuff is the president of the Canadian Labour Congress. Follow him on Twitter @Hassan_Yussuff.  Issue:  Health and Safety Violence Human Rights & Equality Women […]

  • Canada’s unions seek to remove barriers to employment for workers with disabilities
    by cstdenis on December 3, 2018 at 3:08 pm

    Canada’s unions are marking December 3, the International Day for Persons with Disabilities, by calling on the government to do more to remove barriers in its accessibility legislation.Along with their allies in the disability rights movement, Canada’s unions recently welcomed the introduction of Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act. However, they would like to see more focused attention on the identification and removal of barriers to employment at workplaces across Canada.“For decades, the disability rights community has advocated for the introduction of federal legislation on accessibility,” said CLC Executive Vice-President Larry Rousseau. “We are pleased to see the government deliver on its promise for this legislation, but they will need to go further to truly remove barriers for workers with disabilities.”Given that the Act identifies “employment” as one of seven areas specified for the identification and removal of barriers, and the prevention of new barriers, the CLC has identified a number of amendments to improve the efficacy of the Act.In particular, new workplaces standards on accessibility would be developed in the Act without any language that mandates the inclusion of unions or considers the important role of bargaining agents in the development of these standards. As such, the CLC is calling for amendments to the Act that:protect workers’ bargaining rights;establish clear enforcement mechanisms that support employer accountability and compliance; and finallyintegrate an intersectional framework throughout the Act that recognizes the diversity of identities and barriers of people with disabilities.“We are committed to working with this government to adopt and implement an amended Act that sets an example for countries around the world,” said Rousseau. “This is our opportunity to put Canada on the map as a global accessibility leader.”The CLC has also called for amendments that would ensure C-81 aligns with and enhances the application of other existing legislation, regulations, policies, programs and services. This includes ensuring consistency between the legislative application and treatment, standards and requirements of employers in C-81, and those in existing legislation, such as the Employment Equity Act. You can read and share our full submission on the Accessible Canada Act here.The International Day for Persons with Disabilities was first proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1992. Issue:  Human Rights & Equality Workers with Disabilities […]

  • UN World AIDS Day: Global efforts to end HIV/AIDS get a boost in Nigeria
    by cstdenis on November 30, 2018 at 2:35 pm

    Ahead of this year’s UN World AIDS Day, Canada’s unions are pleased to join international efforts to better assess workplace programs aimed at promoting HIV/AIDS awareness, testing, and treatment in Nigeria.The Canadian Labour Congress is working with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Trade Union Congress-UK to support the National HIV Workplace Assessment in the sub-Saharan nation. Nigeria has the second largest HIV epidemic in the world.Key stakeholders including the Nigeria Labour Congress, government, and health organizations coordinated the workplace assessment. Based on ILO Recommendation 200, the survey will emphasize the role of trade unions in Nigeria and throughout the continent, by linking Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) programs to HIV and AIDS awareness raising, prevention, testing, and treatment. This important work will help reduce gaps in HIV testing and treatment, and will support global efforts to end AIDS by 2030.Researchers will use the information to identify any gaps in the current system, to inform national priorities and programs, to plan future workplace interventions and to help secure funding for trade unions to continue this important work.Significant progress has been made in the AIDS response since the launch of the first UN World AIDS Day in 1988. This year’s theme “Know Your Status” aims to eliminate the stigma around HIV testing by focusing on awareness and encouraging individuals to get tested. Issue:  Around the World HIV-AIDS […]

  • 16 days of action: Towards ending gender-based violence
    by cstdenis on November 22, 2018 at 8:22 pm

    The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25 marks the first day of 16 globally recognized days of activism to end gender-based violence.This year, Canada’s unions are taking action to specifically address gender-based violence in the workplace. Violence and harassment are a daily reality for far too many workers in Canada. The #MeToo movement has demonstrated how gender-based violence, including sexual harassment, remain a significant barrier for women, trans and gender diverse workers. Canada’s unions are calling for government action to prevent and stop violence and harassment at work.Globally, Canada’s unions have united behind the effort to negotiate a new convention at the International Labour Organization (ILO). This binding convention would hold governments and employers accountable for preventing and addressing all forms of violence and harassment at work.“This important convention establishes a common understanding of what harassment and violence is, how it manifests at work, and who faces greater risk or is most vulnerable to its effects. It will help drive government regulation and employer action,” said CLC Secretary-Treasurer, Marie Clarke Walker. Walker is the worker spokesperson for the negotiations.In Canada, governments are now recognizing gender-based harassment and violence as an issue that requires action in every workplace. Earlier this fall, workers in the federal sector and those living in Newfoundland and Labrador won paid domestic violence leave. That brings to five the number of provinces where paid domestic violence leave exists.But there still remains much work to do.Over the next 16 days, the CLC will encourage online actions through our #DoneWaiting campaign to keep up the pressure on elected officials to make further progress on these issues.The CLC will host two interactive video events during the 16 days of action.“Building Consent Culture in Workplaces” Facebook live discussion on November 26 at 6:00 p.m. EST. Register here.“How to Win Paid Domestic Violence Leave” webinar on December 3 at 12:00 p.m. EST. Register here.To learn about events and vigils in your community, visit this 16 days of action calendar of events. Issue:  Health and Safety Violence Human Rights & Equality LGBTQ2SI Women […]

  • CUPW and CLC issue joint statement in support of workers
    by cstdenis on November 22, 2018 at 7:18 pm

    The Canadian Labour Congress joins the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) in calling on Canada Post to negotiate fair contracts for postal workers. The CLC also joins CUPW in condemning the federal government’s back-to-work legislation.“The right to strike is an integral part of collective bargaining. Without it, an employer has no incentive to bargain in good faith, and workers have no recourse to demand a fair process,” said CLC President, Hassan Yussuff.“This federal government was supposed to be different from the last, and yet here we are again,” said CUPW President, Mike Palecek. “Trudeau is showing his true colours and the anti-worker agenda shared with former Prime Minister Harper. He knows we have always been prepared to bargain in good faith and to negotiate – quickly – fair collective agreements for our members. He could have directed Canada Post to do the same.”Palecek added “Back-to-work legislation has serious long-term impacts on the work environment and on labour relations. Once contracts are imposed that don’t address our core concerns around unsafe working conditions, equality for rural carriers, and access to secure full-time middle-class jobs, that’s just more ground we’ll continue to struggle to regain.”The Harper Conservative government’s back-to-work legislation in 2011 drove postal workers to accept regressive contracts. It was later ruled unconstitutional. After a federal review of the postal service, the Liberal government made it a priority to improve labour relations at Canada Post. Back-to-work legislation will seriously damage that effort.“We are calling on the federal government to allow for a fair process by encouraging workers and the employer to come to an agreement that works for everyone,” said Yussuff. “This back-to-work legislation is a clear violation of workers’ Charter rights. CUPW successfully fought to have this right explicitly upheld by the Supreme Court.&rdquo […]

  • Canada’s unions stand with trans workers
    by cstdenis on November 20, 2018 at 2:46 pm

    November 20 is the Trans Day of Remembrance (TDOR). Communities around the world hold vigils, rallies and other memorial events on this day to honor two spirit, trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming people who have been murdered because of their gender identity.“Trans people face disproportionately high levels of violence and harassment. Ensuring respect and fair treatment for trans workers is a key priority for Canada’s unions,” said CLC Executive Vice-President, Larry Rousseau. “Our workplaces must lead the way in being inclusive spaces for all workers, no matter their gender identity and expression.”Studies compiled by Egale Canada show that 90 percent of transgender and gender diverse employees report experiencing workplace harassment and/or violence based on their gender identity and expression. Trans people, and in particular trans women of colour, continue to be disproportionately targeted by sexual harassment and violence.Canada’s unions have long stood with trans people in Canada. We supported private members’ bills and Bill C-16, which amended human rights legislation and the Criminal Code to add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination. While almost all provinces and territories have made trans protection explicit in their human rights legislation, more remains to be done.Unions continue to improve conditions for trans workers through collective bargaining, by securing rights to access to safe washrooms and change rooms and health benefit coverage for medical transition and hormone therapy. Our education programs and resources help build awareness to support a safer environment for workers to transition. The CLC has collaborated with Our Times labour magazine on a new to-do list for trans inclusion in the workplace. We will also be releasing an updated Workers in Transition guide in early 2019.“We all have a role to play in promoting fairness, equality, and freedom from violence for trans people in our workplaces and in our communities,” said Rousseau.Visit the official TDOR website to learn more about the origin and history of the campaign here. Issue:  Health and Safety Violence Human Rights & Equality LGBTQ2SI Women […]

  • Canada’s unions call federal budget bill a boon for workers
    by cstdenis on October 30, 2018 at 4:27 pm

    Canada’s unions welcome measures in Monday’s federal budget implementation act that provide important progress for working people, including plans to achieve pay equity, provide paid domestic violence leave, protect workers during contract retendering, and otherwise elevate Canada’s labour standards.Introducing a new Pay Equity Act will bring in long-awaited legislation requiring federally-regulated employers to create proactive pay equity plans that will begin to address Canada’s gender wage gap. The government also announced the establishment of a Pay Equity Commissioner to independently oversee implementation and hold employers accountable.“Canada’s unions have been fighting for proactive pay equity legislation for over a decade and we’re glad to see the government take meaningful action to close Canada’s shameful gender pay gap,” said CLC President, Hassan Yussuff.For all federally-regulated employers with ten or more workers, the new legislation will adapt existing compliance frameworks to include pay equity, and set out specific timelines for implementation and compulsory maintenance reviews.Changes to Part III of the Canada Labour Code were also included in the omnibus bill, and are being heralded by Canada’s unions as an important modernization of federal labour standards in Canada. These changes will restrict exploitation by prohibiting employers from misclassifying workers and paying them less, simply because they work for a temp agency or on a part-time, casual or term basis.Canada’s unions were also pleased with new measures that will prevent employers from using contract flipping as a means of undermining the wages, benefits, and job security of workers.“The Canada Labour Code used to be upheld as the gold standard across the Country but federal labour standards were significantly eroded over a decade by the Harper government,” said Yussuff. “Providing additional vacation time and leave provisions, as well as new scheduling notice protections, are important steps that will lift employment standards for Canadian workers,” said Yussuff.After an intensive campaign by Canada’s unions, survivors of domestic violence working in the federal sector will now receive five days of paid leave. This will help to set a national standard as many provinces move to allow people experiencing violence at home to seek the support and services they need to help keep themselves and their children safe.“Canada’s unions will continue to push to elevate labour standards for everyone working in Canada,” said Yussuff. “Along with this week’s announcements, immediate action to establish a $15 federal minimum wage would raise the bar across the country.” Issue:  Human Rights & Equality Workers with Disabilities Young Workers Jobs and the Economy Gender Pay Gap Social and Economic Policy […]

  • Canada’s unions applaud asbestos ban regulations
    by cstdenis on October 18, 2018 at 1:55 pm

    Canada’s unions applaud the federal government for introducing regulations to ban the import, export, manufacture, sale and use of asbestos and asbestos-containing products. The regulations, announced in December 2016 will come into force on December 30, 2018.“This is a critical step on the long road to banning asbestos, and will, without a doubt, save lives for generations to come,” said Canadian Labour Congress President, Hassan Yussuff. The new regulations, under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act 1999 (CEPA), prohibit the import, sale and use of asbestos, the manufacture, import, sale and use of products containing asbestos, as well as the export of asbestos and asbestos-containing products, with a limited number of exceptions. Combined, this is a historic step to protect the health of Canadian workers and the public, and to address Canada’s history as an exporter of this deadly substance. With these regulations, Canada now joins 55 countries that have banned the use of asbestos. Yussuff said that it will be crucial for protection from exposure to extend to everyone living in Canada, including those living in First Nations housing filled with asbestos-ridden vermiculite insulation. “Because these diseases have a long latency period, the danger is not over, but this is the beginning of the end. Now we need the provinces and territories to show the same leadership that the federal government has shown and move quickly to take stock of where asbestos is, harmonize regulation around disposal and remediation, and ensure a comprehensive response,” he said.“We can all breathe easier. The introduction of these regulations in a timely manner is the result of years of advocacy and hard work by people dedicated to safer, healthier workplaces. Today, I celebrate and thank the government for giving the next generation of Canadians a better future, free from the pain and suffering caused by asbestos,” said Yussuff. A robust enforcement strategy to ensure compliance with these new regulations will be important to a successful implementation and to addressing the legacy of asbestos-contaminated workplaces.“We look forward to continuing to work with the federal government on the broader whole-of-government strategy to protect Canadians from the harms of asbestos,” added Yussuff. Issue:  Health and Safety […]

  • Government must enact viable solutions to end child labour
    by cstdenis on October 16, 2018 at 9:17 pm

    On Monday, the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development (FAAE) tabled the report “A Call to Action: Ending the Use of All Forms of Child Labour in Supply Chains.” This report follows the Subcommittee on International Human Rights’ (SDIR) study on Child Labour and Modern Day Slavery. “The inexcusable use of child labour and slavery in the operations and supply chains of Canadian companies has to stop,” said CLC President Hassan Yussuff. “Although we are pleased that the Subcommittee’s report recognizes the importance of eliminating these practices globally and proposes a series of recommendations, the report does not go far enough in proposing a comprehensive and concrete plan to address this problem.” Child and forced labour represent some of the most egregious labour and human rights violations, yet these practices are still widely used. The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimated that in 2016, there were over 40.3 million victims of modern slavery and 152 million children in child labour worldwide.  In 2000, Canada ratified ILO Convention 182 on the worst forms of child labour, and in 2016 ratified ILO Convention 138 on minimum age. Despite these important steps and growing national and international calls to action, including from the G20 and the UN General Assembly, child and forced labour continue to plague the supply chains of Canadian companies. World Vision estimated that in 2016, Canada imported $34 billion worth of goods that were at risk of being produced with child or forced labour. “Governments have an important role to play in ensuring that human rights are protected and that victims of these inhumane labour practices have access to remedy,” said Yussuff. “Our government must live up to its international commitments by developing a comprehensive toolkit that includes legislation mandating human rights due diligence throughout the operations of Canadian companies.” The CLC supports the Committee report recommendations, which include addressing child and forced labour by:  prioritizing the elimination of child labour and forced labour in Canada’s international assistance;improving access to quality education for children and adults;supporting law enforcement and judicial systems;including discussion of child labour and forced labour in all free trade negotiations;building capacity of Canadian businesses to monitor their supply chains;advancing initiatives to motivate business to eliminate child and forced labour in their supply chains; andexamining Canada’s import regime and procurement policies as levers to eliminate the use of child labour.The elimination of child and forced labour requires a comprehensive approach that includes a package of tools and measures. This package must include the immediate appointment of the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise that, as announced by the government last January, is independent and has robust investigatory powers. It must also include legislation mandating human rights due diligence in the business operations and supply chains of Canadian enterprises. The government must also strengthen policy coherence in free trade and investment agreements, general preferential tariffs, international assistance and public procurement. Countries that have recently implemented or are in the process of implementing supply chain legislation include the UK, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Australia. While there is a range of legislative approaches, international experts argue that in order to be effective, such legislation must address all human rights, and include both mandatory disclosure provisions as well as mandatory human rights due diligence that is linked to corporate liability.  The CLC will continue to call on the government to take the necessary steps to combat child labour and slavery globally, particularly within our own supply chains. You can find the full CLC submission here. Issue:  Around the World Corporate Accountability […]