Ontario's unionized workers planning wildcat strikes

This fall, workers may stop work en masse to protest unsafe working conditions. The proposed protest is in response to major changes to health and safety legislation.

If your workplace isn’t safe, this fall you can expect unionized workers to stop working, en masse and without notice.

The wildcat strikes, proposed by the Ontario Federation of Labour, are to protest major, unpublicized changes to health and safety legislation.

Currently, individual workers are legally allowed to refuse to do any work they deem to be unsafe. The worker can complain to the Labour Ministry and an inspector will then visit the work site to check it out.

But changes to the laws, contained in bill 57, called the Government Efficiency Act , would allow the inspector to call the employer rather than making a face-to-face visit to the work site.

Other changes include:

•eliminating the requirement for employers to maintain a list of hazardous materials that are onsite; and

•eliminating the requirement to automatically report work-related injuries due to accidents, explosions and fires.

“These health and safety changes will put people’s lives at risk,” says OFL president Wayne Samuelson. The OFL brings together unions representing more than a million workers in Ontario.

At a conference next week, unions will discuss a plan in which, if a single worker decides that conditions are unsafe or unhealthy, everyone will stop working.

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