Labour briefs

ETFO files unfair labour practice complaint against government, OPSBA / Lack of resources undermines safety at federal workplaces: CCPA

ETFO files unfair labour practice complaint against government, OPSBA

TORONTO — The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) filed an unfair labour practice complaint with the Ontario Labour Relations Board on Sept. 29.
The complaint accuses the provincial government and the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA) of refusing to bargain in good faith.

According to the union, the government and OPSBA have violated their obligation under the School Boards Collective Bargaining Act by setting parameters for continuing collective bargaining. The parties required the ETFO to agree to elements of the recent memorandum of settlement with the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) in order to continue bargaining.

The union said this demand has violated the "good faith" duties imposed on all parties.

"The obstinacy of this government and OPSBA to try and impose a deal on ETFO members while refusing to continue negotiations has pushed us to take this action," said ETFO president Sam Hammond.

"We have consistently said that ETFO would return to the table at any time to negotiate a fair and reasonable collective agreement that is specific for ETFO members."

According to the union, the government and OPSBA abruptly left the table on Sept. 11 after seven days of bargaining. The union represents 78,000 elementary public school teachers, occasional teachers and educational professionals across Ontario.

Lack of resources undermines safety at federal workplaces: CCPA

OTTAWA — Ottawa’s budget cuts are undermining the health and safety of federally regulated workplaces, a new study suggests.

The report, released Sept. 30 by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), says a lack of resources, including funding and safety inspection staff, are putting the 1.2 million workers under the federal government’s employ at risk.

In 2005, for instance, there were 151 inspectors overseeing health and safety in federally regulated sectors (such as banking, communications, broadcasting, postal, transportation and government).

But according to the Public Service Alliance of Canada (the union representing federal workers), that number has dropped significantly, and in April of this year there were only 67 inspectors.

"The overall situation is a recipe for both potential dangerous occupational health and safety issues and injuries," said John Anderson, the researcher who conducted the study. "Inspection is absent or so highly limited it cannot create the safe workplace environment that is surely everybody’s goal and wish."

However, according to Employment and Social Development Canada, there are currently 92 inspectors, though the department said it soon plans to increase that number to 100.

According to the CCPA study, amendments to the Canada Labour Code in 2013’s budget bill reduced the power of health and safety inspectors and weakened the definition of "danger" in the workplace — the provision that allows employees to refuse unsafe work.

Compared to the provinces, federal workplaces are lagging behind in safety. The study noted disabling injury rates in the provinces declined by 46 per cent from 2002 to 2012, whereas the federal rate dropped only 12 per cent. In 2012, there were almost 21,000 disabling injuries in federal workplaces and 684 deaths between 2002 and 2013.

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