FAMILY FRIENDLY QUEBEC
— A consultation paper prepared for the Quebec government recommends enacting labour standards that recognize workers’ family responsibilities for family other than underage children. One proposal would give workers 10 days off a year to care for family members, including parents or a spouse. Currently workers can only miss five days per year and only to take care of a child. The government is also looking at increasing the minimum weekly rest period. Right now workers are entitled to 24 consecutive hours off every week but that could be increased to 32 consecutive hours. “Twenty-four hours of rest doesn’t leave enough time to do anything else except going home, eating, sleeping and taking care of life’s daily necessities,” the consultation paper states.
BUS PASSES AS A BENEFIT
— The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) will consider giving employers a discount if they provide subsidized transit passes as a benefit for employees. The Hotel Employees, Restaurant Employees Union is trying to get three Toronto hotels to pick up three-quarters of the cost of the transit passes for staff. The TTC said it would support the move and consider offering a group discount rate. The federal government has been under pressure to make transit passes tax-free. Currently, if an employee receives a pass from the employer, it’s classified as taxable benefit.
WORK OUT CUTBACKS YOURSELF
— British Columbia elementary teachers are being told they will face union discipline if they help principals make plans for the next school year. Because provincial restructuring and budget cuts mean plans will likely include cutting teaching staff and programs, teachers are required to opt out of planning due to union rules that prevent participating in discussions on cutbacks, said Mary McDermott, vice-president of the Vancouver Elementary School Teachers’ Association.
WOMEN BADLY OUTNUMBERED IN TECH
— Women continue to account for a small fraction of the IT workforce in Canada, a complicating factor in the shortage of IT workers. “One solution to the chronic shortage of skilled workers is to do a better job of attracting women into the field,” said Gaylen Duncan, CEO of the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC). While men constitute 54 per cent of Ontario’s entire labour force, males make up about 76 per cent of province’s IT workforce, according to an ITAC survey.
STEELWORKERS WANT INDUSTRY-WIDE BARGAINING
— In response to employer calls for union concessions, the Canadian arm of the United Steelworkers of America plans to introduce industry-wide bargaining to replace contracts set to expire at the end of next month. Negotiating on a company-by-company basis pits one group of workers against another, said Lawrence McBrearty, USWA Canadian director, at the union’s national party conference. The union hopes industry-wide bargaining will give it more clout to not only resist calls for rollbacks but to seek wage increases and pension improvements.