Category Archives: News

EI cuts are another blow to the jobless

By: Carol Goar Canada, Published on Wed Apr 10 2013

Just when it seemed safe to put Jim Flaherty’s surprise-loaded 2012 budget behind us, it delivered a nasty aftershock.

Labour activists knew it was coming, but most Canadians didn’t. Buried in last spring’s 425-page omnibus budget legislation was a change in employment insurance (EI) rules that will hurt thousands of laid-off workers. It took effect on April 7.

Unions and community groups pleaded with the government not to implement the measure. They failed. So last Sunday, employment insurance benefits in two-thirds of the country were quietly reduced. Existing recipients were spared but new EI claimants — starting with the 54,500 workers who lost their jobs in March — will be subject to tougher rules. Most will get less support.

Generalizations are impossible. The impact on any person depends on his or her employment record, skills and the health of the local job market. But by and large, EI applicants in Oshawa, Windsor, Hamilton, the Niagara region, Sudbury, Halifax, Montreal, Winnipeg, Regina and Vancouver will fare worse under the new rules. (The effect in Toronto will minimal because EI claimants here never received the same benefits as their counterparts in the rest of the country.)

Full article: www.thestar.com

Unemployed Workers and Migrant Workers Targeted

MEDIA RELEASE June 28, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Harper’s “Cheap Labour” Agenda: Unemployed Workers and Migrant Workers Targeted

TORONTO, ON—Drastic changes have been made to Employment Insurance (EI) and the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). In particular, unemployed workers and migrant workers will be forced into lower wages. These aggressive measures are part of an ongoing “cheap labour” agenda from the Harper government – a race to the bottom where workers continue to be squeezed more and more.

“The economic crisis has left working people more vulnerable than ever and these changes will make things worse,” said Winnie Ng, co-chair of the Good Jobs for All labour-community coalition.

The coalition has launched a new campaign to fight these regressive measures. “We want
Parliament to fix EI by improving eligibility and increasing duration of benefits, and stop letting employers get away with taking advantage of migrant workers,” said Ng.

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City Council speaks up for cleaners

MEDIA RELEASE

April 12, 2012
City Council speaks up for cleaners, votes to review contracting out of cleaning services

Toronto, ON – The Justice & Dignity for Cleaners campaign won an important victory at City Hall yesterday when Council voted 29-12 to prevent City Manager from awarding contracts for cleaning service without Council approval.

The decision affirms Council authority over reviewing and extending the cleaning contract for police stations already awarded to Impact Cleaning by City Management in February this year. Impact Cleaning is the same company that was previously found in violation of the City’s Fair Wage Policy and underpaying vulnerable workers, including undocumented workers.

For months, hundreds of City of Toronto cleaners have been facing the threat of job loss as they began to receive notice that cleaning in City Facilities would be contracted out. For cleaners in the public and private sectors, it makes a difference to see City Council come to terms with the reality of contract cleaning, which includes routine exploitation of vulnerable workers and layers of subcontracting that help cleaning companies evade their obligations as employers.

“Newcomers and immigrants are the most vulnerable people in this city. It’s not only about money, it’s making sure that the companies we are dealing with respect their employees,” said Councillor Ana Bailão during the Council meeting. Bailão formerly worked as a cleaner when she was a newcomer and said she was well aware of the industry’s practices.

City of Toronto cleaners make roughly $40,000 a year plus benefits, and many Councillors argued that cleaners deserved a decent wage for the difficult work they do. As a contrast, cleaners working for private contractors usually make close to minimum wage and struggle with multiple jobs to support their families.

“We welcome this decision from City Council because it was the right thing to do. We have been asking the City to lead by example, as a good employer, and we are happy that our Councillors agree,” said Winnie Ng, co-chair of Good Jobs for All. Ng and others launched the Justice and Dignity for Cleaners campaign in September 2011, asking Councillors to vote on proposed job cuts instead of having City managers make backroom decisions.

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For further information:
Preethy Sivakumar – 416 937 9378
Coordinator, Good Jobs for All

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Consequences of outsourcing city cleaning Jobs

By Robert Dryden and Jim Stanford

Canadians were justifiably outraged when Electro-Motive, owned by Caterpillar, threatened its London, Ont., workers with a 50 per cent pay cut and then left Canada in search of cheaper labour in the U.S.

In Toronto, a similar story is unfolding, only it’s city council — not an industrial giant — that poses the threat.

City council is considering whether to outsource up to 1,000 civic cleaning and janitorial positions to low-wage private-sector contractors. Pay rates for the hard work of keeping our public facilities clean and safe would face a Caterpillar-style reduction of as much as 50 per cent.

Full story Toronto Star

Stop contracting out Toronto cleaning jobs, academics say

Toronto must stop contracting out municipal cleaning jobs to stem the alarming growth of working poor in the city, academics and community leaders say.

“Turning good jobs into poverty wage jobs will only deepen the current job crisis,” they say in an open letter to Mayor Rob Ford and council being released Thursday. “Toronto’s budget issues should not be resolved at the expense of these cleaners, their families and their neighbourhoods.”

Almost 1,000 cleaning jobs in municipal buildings, police stations, daycares, social housing and long-term care facilities are at risk, they say.

The call comes in the wake of a recent report that shows more than 70,700 workers in Toronto are struggling to get by on poverty-level wages, a number that jumped by 8.2 per cent between 2000 and 2005.

It also comes a week after the Toronto Police Service signed a $1.7 million one-year contract with a private cleaning company, eliminating 100 jobs with benefits that paid about $20 an hour. Private cleaners typically earn the minimum wage of $10.25 an hour and receive few benefits.

“A well-functioning city needs all types of people, including people who maintain our civic buildings,” said University of Toronto professor David Hulchanski, among about 100 academics who signed the open letter.

“To replace them with people who earn half as much a year, with no benefits is just another example of how governments are increasing the social divide in our city,” added Hulchanski, a contributor to last weekend’s groundbreaking Metcalf Foundation report, “ ‘The Working Poor’ in the Toronto Region: Who they are, where they live and how trends are changing.”

The city’s community development committee will discuss the issue of low-wage work next week.

Rachael Rocca, 35, had hoped a cleaning job with Toronto Community Housing would be her ladder out of poverty.

In the summer of 2010, the single mother of three was among 30 tenants chosen to participate in a year-long apprenticeship program to train for a permanent position paying about $21 an hour, with benefits.

Eager to build a better future for her family, Rocca used her $14.50 hourly apprenticeship earnings to move out of her subsidized three-bedroom townhouse in Lawrence Heights and into a three-bedroom market-rent apartment in Weston.

But last summer Toronto Community Housing cancelled the apprenticeship program and instead of hiring Rocca and the others, continued to use a private cleaning company for about 100 positions that used to be filled by staff.

“We were devastated,” Rocca recalled. “We were all crying. We had all worked so hard and had been told if we did well that we would be hired.”

Rocca, who now receives employment insurance, has seen her $980 biweekly paycheques cut by half. She struggles to pay her $980 monthly rent.

“I needed that job for my children and for my financial security,” she said. “Now I have nothing.”

Source: Toronto Star

Stop the $6 million cut to employment standards enforcement

Despite the fact that workplace violations are at a crisis, the government wants to cut $6 million out of Employment Standards enforcement.

EMAIL Dalton McGuinty to ask him to keep his promise to workers and stop the cut today:

Wage theft is at a crisis.
People need confidence that when they go to work they will be paid. However, every day we are seeing workers not getting paid their wages. In a recent survey of workplace violations, WAC found that 1 in 3 people in low waged jobs face unpaid wages.

People are working hard, without adequate protection in their workplaces. Unpaid wages throw workers into financial hardship and stress–yet less than 1% of workplaces are inspected and there’s no cost to employers who break the law. Now more than ever workers need protection from wage theft.

Dalton McGuinty’s promise to workers in 2008:
As part of the Poverty Reduction Strategy, we will invest an additional $10 million annually to hire new employment standards officers, improve Employment Standards Act compliance and reduce the backlog of claims.
Government of Ontario, Breaking the Cycle: Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy 2008.

TAKE ACTION

  1. Email Premier Dalton McGuinty here and tell him to keep his promise to workers.
  2. Call your MPP and ask them to make sure the government does not cut $6 million from Employment Standards enforcement. Find out who your MPP is at www.elections.on.ca/en-ca
  3. Share this information with others in your community and urge them to take action.

City cleaners in safety suits bring message to Councillors at Monday’s rally

Toronto, ON – City cleaners facing possible job cuts made their voices heard outside City Hall Monday night at the Rally for Toronto. As City Council continues to discuss proposed cuts, cleaners asked Councillors to consider the far-reaching implications of cutting hundreds, if not thousands, of living-wage jobs.

Cleaners wore protective suits, goggles, and gas masks that they require to complete their day to day duties. “We’re here not just as residents, but also as cleaners. Many residents don’t actually see us and aren’t aware of the kind of risks and dangers we take on in our jobs. We’re dressed like this to give them a look into our everyday work,” said Trish O’Brien, a Toronto Police Station cleaner.

“Talking about cutting our jobs sends the wrong message. If I lose my job, it affects my family’s livelihood, but if you cut hundreds of jobs, then that affects communities, and eventually our entire city,” said O’Brien. She was one of speakers at Monday’s Rally for Toronto organized by a coalition of Toronto organizations and groups opposing cuts to city services and good jobs.

“We have asked City Councillors to consider the effect of cutting living-wage jobs on the economic and social health of our city,” said Winnie Ng, co-chair of the Good Jobs for All coalition. Ng and others launched the Justice and Dignity for Cleaners campaign earlier this month, asking Councillors to vote on proposed job cuts instead of having City managers make backroom decisions.

“The rally’s main message to Councillors was ‘Build Toronto-Don’t Destroy it,’ and taking away the income of people, many of whom live in already poor neighbourhoods, is not going to help build and grow our city,” added Ng, who also spoke at the rally.

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Toronto cleaners call on City Councillors to defend good jobs, ensure transparency

MEDIA RELEASE

September 15, 2011                                                                                             

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Toronto cleaners call on City Councillors to defend good jobs, ensure transparency

Toronto, ON – Hundreds of City cleaners’ jobs may be contracted out and turned into poverty-wage jobs without a chance for City Councillors to weigh in and vote on the issue. The cleaners at the Toronto Police Service are the first group under attack. Continue reading Toronto cleaners call on City Councillors to defend good jobs, ensure transparency

Talking about jobs

Check out the newly launched Talking about Jobs website. Join in on the discussion!

Over the last six months the Wellesley Institute, Atkinson Foundation and Metcalf Foundation brought together thoughtful leaders, practitioners and scholars to envision, in a pragmatic and practical way, 21st century labour market policies for Ontario. What grew from these discussions were a clear set of labour market policy proposals focused on workforce development and labour market regulation. These ideas are aimed at reducing labour market poverty. They will contribute to a healthier and more equitable Ontario.

We are putting forward six good ideas that should be on the agenda as Ontarians head to the polls this fall. They include: local job matchmaking, a new and improved Employment Standards Act, partnerships for workplace-based learning, the right job for internationally trained professionals, the right to choose a union, and better protection for migrant workers.

We will be discussing these ideas on the website and in communities.

May 17-18: City Council votes on privatization proposal

On May 17-18, City Council will vote on Mayor Ford’s garbage privatization proposal. The plan is to privatize residential collection of recycling, organics, and garbage west of Yonge Street, litter collection in all parks, street cleaning, and other collection across the city on an “adhoc basis.” At the April 26th Public Works & Infrastructure Committee, over 70 public deputants spoke against the proposal to privatize garbage as well as circumvent democratic process.

This attempt to contract out waste collection when the public and the Councillors have not had a chance to review it sets a dangerous precedent. The savings that are claimed in the staff report will be realized primarily due to lower wages and benefits paid to front line workers employed by private, for‐profit contractors. Waste collection is a tough and risky job. Good Jobs for All rejects a business plan that is based on de‐valuing work while paving the way for future contracting out of public services to private companies. Call now to speak to your councillor to find out how they are going to vote.

Come to City Hall on May 17-18 to attend the meeting. The agenda still has not been made public for the meeting, but it will start at 9:30 am and will go into the evening . Contact psivakumar [@] labourcouncil [dot] ca if you plan to attend so that we can keep you posted as details emerge.

Yesterday, the City announced the process for three major “reviews” are taking place over the next few months for public consultation. With an anticipated shortfall of almost $775 million in the 2012 City Budget, we will have to mobilize now to push back against cuts to important public services that Toronto residents across communities need.