News briefs (April 22, 2002)

By
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 09/05/2003

LABOUR SEEKS MORE WOMEN MEMBERS

Ottawa

— The Canadian Labour Congress has kicked off a campaign to double the number of unionized women in Canada in just three years. While working men and women have nearly equal unionization rates (34 and 32 per cent respectively), the CLC says women are much more likely to work temporary, part-time and low-wage jobs and therefore a larger number of women would gain from union membership. The median wage is about $17,000 for women and more than $28,600 for men. “This campaign isn’t about unions needing more women. It is about more women needing unions,” said Nancy Riche, CLC secretary-treasurer.

THE NEED TO READ

Halifax

— For businesses to thrive and the economy to flourish, working Canadians must improve their reading skills, says Tim O’Neill, chief economist of the Bank of Montreal and vice-chair of the ABC Literary Foundation. Nationally, about 22 per cent of the adult population has difficulty reading and often don’t fully understand written materials — in Atlantic Canada it is closer to 25 per cent. O’Neill told a Halifax business gathering, last month, that while people can often get by reading materials on topics they are comfortable with, in a rapidly changing world with technology infusing many workplaces, reading skills are more important than ever.

KUDOS FOR QUEBEC UNIVERSITY SUPPORT

Ottawa

— When it comes to supporting post-secondary education, Quebec wins top marks while Newfoundland gets an honourable mention, according to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, a left-leaning think tank that scored provinces based on the equity, accessibility, accountability and quality of post-secondary education. Newfoundland was credited for freezing college fees and rolling back university tuition costs. The centre said the growing trend to deregulate tuitions will lead to rising costs and put post-secondary education out of the reach of many.

CALL IT IN THE AIR

Hamilton

— The Hamilton Public Library called on lady luck to make an important staffing decision, last month. The library, in the midst of a workforce reorganization, had to decide which of two employees would keep her job while the other was demoted. Because the two employees had identical classification and seniority, the library needed a tie breaker and according to the union agreement the tie breaker is a coin toss. The lucky employee protested the process because she thought it was unfair but was told that if she didn’t show up, someone would choose for her.

MORE STOCK OPTIONS

Ottawa

— Despite poor performance and shareholder resistance, Canadian software maker Corel announced it is going to increase the number of stock options available to employees. Corel officials said they need to offer stock options to reward employees and attract talent. The Ontario Teachers Pension Plan Board, which has 1.2 million shares in Corel, voted against the plan and one unhappy shareholder told the Globe and Mail he opposed the proposal because there is no downside for employees and options are not an effective tool for retention. Instead, he wanted to see a profit-sharing scheme but shareholders voted to increase the number of shares available for employees to 10.4 million from 7 million.

CALGARY COURTS A HEALTH RISK?

Calgary

— Responding to an inordinate number of health complaints from staff, the Alberta government has asked two University of Alberta experts to determine if mould growth in Calgary’s courthouses is making people ill and perhaps even endangering their families. Nicola Cherry, an occupational health expert from the University of Alberta, told the Calgary Herald they will look for fungus in the walls but added the presence of mould is not necessarily a health hazard. Humidity and ventilation are more likely to blame for complaints about troubled breathing and irritated eyes.

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