B.C. teachers back in school
VICTORIA — The British Columbia Teachers’ Federation ended the illegal strike that started Oct. 7 by voting to accept a deal drawn up by mediator Vince Ready. The province’s 38,000 public school teachers walked out on the job after the province extended a three-year contract it imposed in 2002. The union incurred a $500,000 fine for ignoring a return-to-work order. Union leaders said they recommended the deal on the condition that the province address issues such as class size.
Violence at meat packers’ picket
BROOKS, ALTA. — A picket line set up on Oct. 12 at Lakeside Packers’ meat packing plant in southern Alberta has been the scene of violence as striking workers repeatedly clashed with workers waiting to enter the plant. A three-vehicle accident that injured the president of the United Food and Commercial Workers local 401 has resulted in charges of dangerous driving, criminal harassment and intimidation laid against two Lakeside managers, who were later banned from the picket line. Charges of willful damage and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose were also laid against the local president. The workers are striking over a first contract.
Rules relaxed for caregiver benefits
OTTAWA — Human Resources and Skills Development Canada has loosened eligibility rules for compassionate care benefits, which provide up to six weeks of Employment Insurance benefits to people who take time off work to care for an ailing person at risk of dying. Under current rules, only immediate family members such as parents, children or spouses qualify for the benefits. Now, anyone designated by a palliative care patient as a caregiver is eligible. Also recently, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the constitutionality of the federal EI program in providing parental leave benefits. A court challenge by Quebec claimed that the federal government overstepped its authority because maternity and parental benefits are social welfare measures.
Sex workers’ rights
BELGIUM — Sex workers from 23 countries in the European Union are calling for an end to what they call repressive policies against prostitution. They’re demanding the same labour rights and social assistance as other employees in Europe. Legislation on prostitution varies from country to country within the union and is legal in the Netherlands and the Czech Republic.