The Federal Government has responded to call for action and has announced plans to enforce the Westray Law; a law which would impose criminal liability on organizations and its representatives for negligence.
Message from Hassan Yussuff, CLC President
Today, the CLC has secured another significant victory for workers across Canada.
Last year, we dedicated the April 28th Day of Mourning to winning a nationwide ban on asbestos. Just eight months later, the government announced that ban and followed through on a promise to join the international call to add asbestos to the list of hazardous substances listed in the Rotterdam Convention.
This April 28th, we honour our fallen sisters and brothers, but we must continue to fight for the living by calling on the provinces and territories to work closely with the federal government on an urgent action plan to enforce the Westray Law. Please share our petition: www.RememberWestray.com
I want to thank the United Steelworkers for their tireless efforts to amend the Criminal Code, and to everyone who fought so hard to enforce this law and protect the lives of workers across this country.
The way the compensation system works is that employers pay an assessment per $100 of payroll into an “Accident Fund”. In return for this, workers give up the right to sue their employers but are supposed to be guaranteed benefits if they are injured on the job. Employers like this system; it keeps them safe from multimillion dollar lawsuits for negligent operation or dangerous workplaces.
After the Liberals came to power in 2001, they immediately attacked the Workers Compensation system. They took away many rights for injured workers and saved the employers hundreds of millions of dollars by reducing injured worker benefits. They even renamed it WorkSafeBC (rather than SafeworkBC) to shift the emphasis for safety to workers and away from employers.
Just a few of the changes that Christy Clark and the Liberals made:
No more pensions for life, just to age 65.
Benefits changed from 75% of gross to 90% of net!
Those most seriously disabled and living on their WCB pensions had the cost of living increase limited to 1% BELOW the cost of living and never more than 4% no matter how high inflation goes.
Canada Pension Plan-Disability is now clawed back by 50%
Loss of earnings pensions were made very difficult to get, again for those who are so disabled by injury or occupational disease that they have to live on their WCB pensions, and a loss of income of 25% or less is deemed too insignificant to compensate!
Under the Liberals they even made a policy that employers who won their appeals would get interest on their awards but injured workers who had been living in poverty for years while they fought their appeals would get no interest at all when they finally won!
Now they have done it again. In blatant pandering to the business community Christy Clark and the Liberals have promised that if re-elected they will give even more to employers. The WCB has created surpluses by denying benefits to workers and reducing the benefits that they do get even if accepted. Now there is no room improving those benefits.
Stan Guenther of our office put it this way in a recent povnet post: The WCB can manage the Accident Fund, including any surplus, in a way that might directly benefit injured workers, i.e. by easing some of the more draconian policies, by paying interest on retroactive entitlements, etc. etc. However, since 2002, the goal has been to ease the burden on employers, a goal well-achieved by the WCB. By forcing the WCB to refund surplus to employers, that power to revise policy to the benefit of injured workers will be limited, and in that regard, clearly the amendment will affect the benefits payable to injured workers. Again.
In 1986 the Socred government of Bill Bennett made a one-time payout to the employers of $99 million from the Accident Fund. There was such a huge uproar from the Labour Community and the NDP that the premier had to set up a Commission of Enquiry about the WCB. The result of this commission was a complete restructuring of the WCB so that it was fairer to workers.
Now they are proposing not a “one-time” payback, but a payback every year! We should all be screaming bloody murder about this outrageous transfer of wealth from workers to employers as a result of whittling down the compensation system.
We all need to remember this: only a change in provincial government will carry with it the possibility of the broad and significant steps required to protect injured workers.
The BC Fed is coordinating Labour Canvassing for the 2017 Provincial Election! The attached file lists all scheduled canvassing events to date – Labour Canvasses – 2017 Provincial ElectionLower Mainland (see linked page for details)
April 19 – Wednesday
Burnaby Lougheed (Katrina Chen candidate) – 5:30 to 8:30 pm
Vancouver Mt. Pleasant & Vancouver Hastings (Melanie Mark & Shane Simpson candidates) – Young Worker training & canvassing – 6:00 to 8:00 pm
April 22 – Saturday
North Vancouver Lonsdale (Bowinn Ma candidate) – 10:00 am to 1:00 pm
April 29 – Saturday
Surrey Green Timbers (Rachna Singh candidate) – 10:00 am to 1:00 pm
May 4 – Thursday
Surrey Panorama (Jinny Sims candidate) – 5:00 to 8:00 pm
May 6 – Saturday
Vancouver Fairview (George Heyman candidate) – 10:00 am to 1:00 pm
With Joey Hartman – VDLC President – RSVP to VDLC office
May Day, International Day of the Worker, May 1 – March and Rally – Event posted on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/events/352434675154142/ Please share. Gather at 5 pm, Clark Park – 5:30 pm march to Grandview Park – Rally 6 pm.
Please sign up and commit a few hours of your time to electing progressive candidates. Your time and commitment will make the difference in bringing about an NDP victory. For more information and to RSVP, please contact Lynn Bueckert at the BCFED – email@example.com or 604 446 8303.
These will be happening regularly leading up to the election. Join labour leaders in the following canvasses:
Join BCFED President, Irene Lanzinger and Burnaby Teachers’ Association
Campaign: Janet Routledge – Burnaby North NDP Campaign
Place: Burnaby North NDP campaign office, 109 – 3701 East Hastings St (corner of Hastings and Boundary), Burnaby Phone: 604 299 7374
Join BCGEU President, Stephanie Smith and the Burnaby Teachers’ Association
After the Trudeau government introduced its first budget last year, Canada’s unions were optimistic, but knew that much more would be needed to really build a fairer and more prosperous Canada. Infrastructure funding, and improvements to EI and the Guaranteed Income Supplement for seniors emerged as highlights in the 2016 budget.
But working Canadians and their families were left waiting for sustained funding for health care and child care, and action on other key campaign commitments.
Here are the top 10 things Canada’s unions are looking for in the 2017 federal budget: (details in link above)
Education & Training
Pharmacare and Sustained, Fair Funding for Health Care
The campaign brings affiliates together to talk about the issues that are important to them and bring those issues that resonate back to their memberships and the public to talk about why they need to get out and vote May 9. The campaign came about through the work being done on the Fight for $15 campaign, the mobilization and its success reaching people. The umbrella campaign brings in issues of public education, healthcare, transit, childcare, family services, and more. The BC Fed has hired 10 organizers across the province working to train volunteers to go out and talk to people about the election and have them pledge to vote on May 9. Anyone interested in having someone come to meetings or events can go to the website – www.togetherforbc.ca, or contact the BC Fed. Delegates were asked to bring the information on the campaign back to their locals.
On Saturday, January 21 at 10 am at Jack Poole Plaza, the Vancouver and District Labour Council will join the BC Fed in a march with women from around the world. March’s are being organized around the world on January 21st, the day Donald Trump is being inaugurated as US President. The BC Federation of Labour is assisting to organize the Vancouver Women’s March with a group of community and union women to mobilizing as women and supporters of women to protect our rights and civil liberties.
Marches are being organized in major cities in the United States and throughout the world. We stand in solidarity with other women’s marches being held on January 21st. We want our international solidarity to be seen and heard by the new administration.
TAKE A STAND AND SUPPORT THE RIGHTS OF ALL WOMEN
Open to people of all genders, races, abilities, religious communities, political affiliations, and sexual orientations.
Gather at Jack Poole Plaza and march to the American Consulate, the Trump Tower, and back to Jack Poole Plaza. Bring your banners, bring your friends, bring your family.
Check out the event on Facebook- Women’s March – Vancouver & help spread the word.
This year’s award will be presented Thursday, December 8 at the United Way’s Labour Appreciation Dinner at the Hilton Metrotown Hotel.
The Syd Thompson Community Service Award honours an individual who has made a significant contribution to the labour movement and our broader community. The award is named for Brother Syd Thompson who served as VDLC President in the 1970s and exemplified the spirit of community and labour activism.
This year the VDLC is proud to present the award to Ellen Woodsworth, who’s lifelong contribution to political, social justice, and equity seeking work deserves to be acknowledged.
Please join us December 8th when we present the award to Ellen and enjoy an evening celebrating labour.