NEWS

April 07, 2017

Urgent Action: Forced Displacements in Cali, Colombia Forced Displacements Le...

For over sixty years, the Cauca River in Cali, Colombia has been home to thousands of residents who farm, run businesses and live along its banks (known as el Jarillón). Since October 2016, families in the Venecia Las Vegas neighbourhood of el Jarillón have been forcibly displaced and seen their houses torn down by the municipality of Cali to make way for a tourist walk way and cargo port. Now the municipality intends to begin demolitions in the neighbourhood of Brisas del Cauca.

Over 340 houses have been demolished in the Vencia Las Vegas neighbourhood, all without prior consultation, legal notice of eviction, or proper compensation or relocation to similar housing conditions. In October 2016, flyers were distributed announcing that families had six days to vacate their homes. The flyers did not constitute legal eviction notices – families should have received individual notices specifying the details of the evictions including specific times and dates of demolitions, and the authorities responsible for the evictions. In addition, no prior community consultation had been carried out by the municipality, and no relocation proposals were provided to families.

The manner in which evictions and demolitions have been carried out compounds the violation of these families’ civil rights. Community members report having their houses torn down with no proper notice and with their belongings still inside. Families who have refused to relocate have been threatened that their houses will be torn down while they are still inside. Others have been told that by refusing to vacate their homes they are endangering their children, and that they will be taken into state home if they fail to leave their homes.

The evictions have been accompanied by up to 1200 police from various forces including riot and military police. Community members report being threatened and intimidated by police, being told they are not allowed to video police actions as they facilitate demolitions, and being illegally detained when recording police actions.

Join CoDevelopment Canada in asking the Mayor of Cali to:

  • Suspend all forced displacements and demolitions of houses in the Jarillón del río Cauca until the displacement procedures are revised to respect and protect of human rights as guaranteed by national and international norms;
  • Immediate solutions and compensation for the families who have been displaced and respect for their economic, cultural and social rights. 

Click here to add your voice in solidarity with the communities of El Jarillón. 

April 03, 2017

Media Advisory: Ministry of Children and Family Development workers demand im...

What: Rally to support B.C.’s Children and Youth

Who: Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) workers

When: Tuesday April 4 at 12pm

Where: MLA Sam Sullivan’s Constituency Office, 201-1168 Hamilton Street, Vancouver, B.C.

Why: The B.C. Government has refused to fund and implement several recommendations from Bob Plecas’ review (the Plecas report) of child welfare in B.C. including wage increases, adequate backfill, and proper training for social workers in MCFD, putting children and youth at risk and greater strain on frontline services.

MCFD workers in Vancouver are coming together at noon on Tuesday April 4th to call on the B.C. Government to take serious steps in implementing the recommendations in the Plecas report and protect children and youth.

Employees’ main demands are that the government address wage concerns in MCFD, which are 11% lower than the national average, and develop proper accreditation for child and youth group homes.

“Low wage rates, lack of training and accreditation, and low staffing levels are putting children and youth at risk.” said Doug Kinna, Vice President - Social, Information and Health Component of the BCGEU. “If the government is serious about protecting youth, they have the start implementing and funding the Plecas recommendations immediately.”

The Plecas report reviewed B.C.’s child welfare system, finding that it lacks accountability, proper staffing levels, training, and funding. The report included a series of recommendations to be implemented over 4 years, most of which have been ignored by government.

Media and photo opportunities available during the event

For more information, contact Doug Kinna at 250-715-6003

 

Local 467/MoveUp

March 31, 2017

The BC Government’s decision to siphon WCB surplus is a short-sighted strate...

The B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union is disappointed by the short-sighted and dangerous decision by the BC government to siphon the Workers Compensation Board (WCB) Accident Fund and gift it to wealthy business owners.

Hundreds of workers are dying every year due to unsafe working conditions. The WCB Accident Fund was created to prevent accidents, train and educate workers and employers, and compensate workers in case of injury or death. Skimming the surplus in this fund and giving it to employers is a disservice to workers.

“These funds belong to workers.” said Stephanie Smith, President of the BCGEU. “If there is a surplus in this fund, it should be used for prevention programs, training, and stronger and more regular enforcement.”

Since 2002, changes in the Workers Compensation Act and government cuts have led to the erosion of benefits for workers.  In 2002 the BC Liberal government virtually eliminated Loss of Earnings pensions to injured workers, which acted as a safety net for workers. By 2007, 96 per cent of injured workers who applied for these pensions were denied

Service cuts to injured workers also include:

  • Effective elimination of vocational rehabilitation assistance
  • A 13 per cent reduction in compensation rates
  • Life-long pensions that now end at 65
  • Reduced compensation for psychological and chronic pain injuries
  • Reductions in the way a worker’s wage rate is calculated
  • Budget cuts that led to 30 per cent reduction in worksite visits by prevention officers

As the Workers Compensation Act reaches its 100th birthday, the BC Government should be re-examining how this Act and the accident fund can be used to prevent worker injuries and deaths. Instead, it is focusing on promising rebates for employers.

 

Background:

BC Government announcement
https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2017JTST0107-000921

 

 

Local 467/MoveUP

March 31, 2017

The BCGEU invites members to celebrate the life of John Shields alongside his...

It is with a heavy heart that the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU) staff and members learned of the passing of former BCGEU president John Shields on March 24. Shields served seven, two-year terms as BCGEU president between 1984 and 1999. For decades he was a champion of labour rights and his legacy can be found in every workplace in B.C. —in the improved working conditions, benefits and wages that were achieved during his time leading the BCGEU.

 

If you were not able to attend an event, but want to offer thoughts, or share memories of John Shields you can send an email to InMemory@bcgeu.ca or sign the memorial books at BCGEU Headquarters at 4911 Canada Way, Burnaby, B.C.

 

Local 467/MoveUP

March 27, 2017

The BCGEU applauds government building asbestos inventory, a step towards pro...

The B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union is encouraged by steps the B.C. government is taking to complete a provincial inventory of asbestos in provincial government buildings built before 1990. This is a significant step in ensuring worker safety during construction, maintenance and renovation of government buildings, and an important step ahead of the promised ban on asbestos by the federal government in 2018.

Asbestos exposure and related diseases are the leading cause of worker deaths in B.C. according to WorkSafe BC (WCB). In fact, according to WCB, deaths linked to asbestos exposure represented 44 per cent of all accepted work-related deaths in 2016. That is why these steps to protect worker health are so important.

“It is unacceptable that workers are still being unknowingly exposed to asbestos in 2017,” said Stephanie Smith, President of the BCGEU. “We have known about its deadly effects since the 1980’s. It is time for the government to move forward with this provincial inventory of asbestos in government buildings.”

Last fall, Public Services and Procurement Canada launched a national online inventory of asbestos in buildings owned or leased by the federal agency, and it is expected other federal agencies will follow suit. Many groups, including the BCGEU, have been calling for the provincial government to take similar steps for years.

In BC, this inventory will cover 758 buildings, of which 451 are buildings leased by the province. The size of this project means the inventory could take up to four years to complete.

While BCGEU members are heartened by the announcement of the inventory, more needs to be done to protect workers’ health. Stronger legislation and enforcement is needed to ensure workers are not being exposed to asbestos without their knowledge and without proper equipment and training to protect their health and safety.

 

Quick Facts:

  • Asbestos was declared a human carcinogen by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer in 1987
  • According to WCB asbestos exposure has led to over 600 accepted worker related deaths between 2005 and 2016
  • According to WCB asbestos related deaths accounted for 75% of all occupational disease deaths and about 44% of all accepted deaths in 2016
  • Breathing of asbestos fibres can lead to health problems that include asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma (a cancer), and pleural thickening (a lung disease)

 

Resources:

WorkSafe BC - Asbestos
https://www.worksafebc.com/en/health-safety/hazards-exposures/asbestos

WorkSafe BC - Asbestos: Be Aware program resources
https://www.worksafebc.com/en/health-safety/industries/construction/initiatives/asbestos-be-aware

 

 

Local 467/MoveUP

March 24, 2017

BCGEU remembers former president John Shields - BCGEU

The BCGEU is saddened by the passing of our former president, John Shields. Shields died today in Victoria at the age of 78.

Shields served seven, two-year terms as BCGEU president between 1984 and 1999.

“It’s a sad day for the BCGEU. John was a great friend to me and so many of us at the BCGEU and within the labour movement nationally,” said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. “He stayed connected with us even after he retired. We’ll miss John’s wisdom and fellowship tremendously.”

During his time in office, many positive changes took place. He was determined to create a “new BCGEU”, that was modern, growth-oriented and responsive to members’ needs.

Shields chaired the BCGEU’s structural review committee, which began its work in 1987. It brought in many changes, including: more education and skills development for stewards, decentralizing the handling of member grievances and other issues away from BCGEU headquarters, and creating bargaining councils.

Perhaps his most significant achievement was negotiating pay equity for BCGEU members in the B.C. public service in 1990. Other occupational sectors, such as health, colleges, and community social services would follow suit in later years.

Shields also implemented additional efforts to organize new members, especially First Nations workers.

Of being part of the labour movement, Shields once said, “It’s work I love doing. It has given me enormous satisfaction.”

Shields gave working people so much in return. His legacy can be found in every workplace in B.C. —in the improved working conditions, benefits and wages that were achieved during his time leading the BCGEU.

“He was a great man. We’re sad to lose him. We’ll never forget him,” said Smith.

March 21, 2017

OHS Courses for Labour Code OHS Committee Members in the Vancouver Area - BCGEU

"Joint OHS Committee Training" will be held on Wednesday, May 24 and "Investigations" will be held on Thursday, May 25. These courses will be held at the BCGEU Lower Mainland office at #130 – 2920 Virtual Way, Vancouver from 9:00 am - 4:30 pm.

In the Joint OHS Committee Training course you will learn:

  • Worker OHS rights, including the refusal of unsafe work procedure
  • OHS legislation
  • Roles and responsibilities of employers, workers, supervisors and committees
  • Hazard identification and control measures
  • How to conduct effective workplace inspections and incident investigations
  • Resources available to the committee

In the Incident Investigations you will learn:

  • The legislative requirements for conducting accident/incident investigations
  • How to get to the contributing factors by conducting effective witness interviews and examining physical evidence
  • How to assess the evidence in order to recommend effective corrective measures

These courses are limited to 22 seats so register early at area03courses@bcgeu.ca to avoid disappointment.

Don't miss out on this opportunity to improve your ability to advocate for workers' health and safety rights - register today.

Note: If you have not taken your annual education leave, as mandated by the Workers' Compensation Act and your Collective Agreement - apply for this employer paid leave through your employer.

March 21, 2017

OHS Courses for all Labour Code OHS Committee Members in the Victoria Area - ...

"Joint OHS Committee Training" will be held on Wednesday, May 10 and "Prevention of Workplace Violence" will be held on Thursday, May 11. These courses will be held at the BCGEU office at 2994 Douglas St, Victoria from 9:00 am - 4:30 pm.

In the Joint OHS Committee Training course you will learn:

  • Worker OHS rights, including the refusal of unsafe work procedure
  • OHS legislation
  • Roles and responsibilities of employers, workers, supervisors and committees
  • Hazard identification and control measures
  • How to conduct effective workplace inspections and incident investigations
  • Resources available to the committee

In the Prevention of Workplace Violence you will learn:

  • The legislative requirements for a violence prevention program
  • The definition of workplace violence
  • How to identify the hazards
  • The factors that contribute to the increased risk of workplace violence
  • The strategies for recommending corrective measures to eliminate or reduce the risk of violence

These courses are limited to 22 seats so register early at area01@bcgeu.ca to avoid disappointment.

Don't miss out on this opportunity to improve your ability to advocate for workers' health and safety rights - register today.

Note: If you have not taken your annual education leave, as mandated by the Workers' Compensation Act and your Collective Agreement - apply for this employer paid leave through your employer.

March 21, 2017

OHS Courses for all Direct Government OHS Committee Members in the Victoria A...

"Ergonomics" will be held on Wednesday, May 24, 2017. This course will be held at the Victoria BCGEU office, 2994 Douglas Street, Victoria from 9:00 am - 4:30 pm.

In the Ergonomics course you will learn:

  • Requirements of the ergonomics regulation
  • How to identify ergonomic hazards, to assess the risk factors of tasks and to recommend appropriate solutions
  • Strategies for implementing an effective workplace ergonomics program
  • How to conduct a workstation assessment

These courses are limited to 22 seats so register early at https://gww.gov.bc.ca/ to avoid disappointment.

Don't miss out on this opportunity to improve your ability to advocate for workers' health and safety rights - register today.

Note: If you have not taken your annual education leave, as mandated by the Workers' Compensation Act and your Collective Agreement - apply for this employer paid leave through your employer.