NEWS

July 28, 2016

2 Day Joint OHS Committee Training

"2 Day Joint OHS Committee Training" will be held on Tuesday August 9th and Wednesday August 10th. This course will be held at the BCGEU area office, 8555 - 198A Street
Langley from 9:00 am - 4:30 pm each day.

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

This course is limited to 22 seats so register early at https://gww.gov.bc.ca/ (click on Learning on the Left Hand side of @Work Home Page) 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.

July 08, 2016

Region 4 Women's Conference

                                                               

Register now for the BCGEU Region 4 Women’s Conference, September 23-24, 2016 in Prince George. The Conference is open to all BCGEU women in Areas 06, 10, 11 & 12.

The Conference commences on Friday evening at 7:00 pm at the Ramada Hotel, 444 George St., Prince George with a panel session which will include a dynamic group of guest speakers. The evening will wrap up with social with lights snacks and a cash bar.

The conference continues on Saturday, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm with a plenary session on "Women in the Union Movement" as well as participants taking part in workshops throughout the day.

Travel, leave of absence and accommodation, if required, are paid by the union. Space is limited so register early!

REGISTRATION CLOSED/ALL SPACES FILLED

Download conference agenda

Download PDF of event notice

UNIFOR467/MoveUP

July 05, 2016

The BCGEU stands with Canada Post workers

Canada Post’s announcement that they will lock out Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) members as soon as Friday is an attack on collective bargaining, its workers and its customers.

Canada Post is refusing to do the work of collective bargaining with CUPW by demanding massive rollbacks on the union’s hard fought gains.

Those rollbacks include moving all new hires from a defined benefit pension plan, similar to those enjoyed by many BCGEU members, to a defined contribution savings plan. There is no need for this change, as postal workers’ current pension plan is self-funded, self-sustaining, and has a $1.2 billion surplus.

Despite what people may hear in the media, Canada Post has been profitable for the last two decades and is the largest parcel delivery company in Canada. There is no need to demand sweeping concessions from Canada Post workers.

CUPW members are fighting for gender equity in pay and benefits (rural carriers, who are mostly women, receive 28% less than their mostly male counterparts in urban areas) and against two-tiered agreements that would see younger members get substantially less than their older co-workers.

We encourage BCGEU members to show solidarity with CUPW members by supporting CUPW workers on their picket lockout lines and by contacting their MP to demand that Canada Post negotiate an agreement that treats all workers equitably. 

June 30, 2016

BCGEU presses Canadian Prime Minister on Mexican teacher repression

Since mid-May, Mexican teachers have launched a nation-wide protest against new government measures that seek to shut down teacher (normal) training schools, base continued employment on teachers’ results on standardized written exams, and eliminate the need for pedagogical training for new teachers. The government’s response has been a wave of violence that includes the abduction and arbitrary detention of teacher union leaders, the firing of eight thousand teachers, and violent attacks on teacher and parent protests, which reached their worst point in Oaxaca on June 19 when security forces opened fire on protesters, killing 8 and wounding at least 45.

Working with CoDevelopment Canada, the BCGEU wrote to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking him to press the Mexican Prime Minister on their government's human rights record during the summit in Ottawa at the end of June.

Read the letter here. 

June 29, 2016

Working Poverty in Metro Vancouver: the extent of the problem and realistic s...

Today the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) released a study on poverty in Vancouver. The report, Working Poverty in Metro Vancouver, presents sobering details on the increasing levels of poverty in the region. It also dispels an important myth about poverty: that getting a job will help lift a person out of poverty.

Poverty in B.C.’s largest city is increasingly a story of low paid and precarious work. Many of the jobs created since the recession of 2008 are part-time, temporary and low paid. Metro Vancouver’s otherwise strong economy increasingly relies upon these workers in security, catering, cleaning and other services.

Toronto and Vanouver have the highest working poverty rates in the country. Making the lives of the working poor even more difficult, they also have the highest costs of living in the country.

In Metro Vancouver in 2012:

  • Just over half (54 per cent) of the working poor were married or living common law
  • 42 per cent had dependent children
  • 24 per cent were between the ages of 18 and 29

The CCPA’s report presents a way forward, and suggests several measures that can begin to eliminate working poverty. Detailed policy recommendations include raising the minimum wage, strengthening employment standards, creating affordable housing, providing high quality childcare, and other changes and investments in our social infrastructure. These are investments that are long overdue. They should be made now.

Click here to read Working Poverty in Metro Vancouver.

UNIFOR467/MoveUP

June 24, 2016

Keep Your Cool!

The recent hot weather in our province generated several calls to the BCGEU Occupational Health and Safety department. Members want to know if the employer has the responsibility to protect workers from hot temperatures both indoors and out. The short answer is “YES!”

The Workers Compensation Act Section 115 mandates that employers must ensure the health and safety of all workers working for that employer and remedy any workplace conditions that are hazardous to their health and safety.

Working in high temperatures can be hazardous to your health as your core body temperature could rise above safe levels and you could be susceptible to heat stress. When heat is combined with other stresses such as hard physical work, loss of fluids, fatigue or some pre-existing medical conditions, it may lead to heat-related illness, disability and even death.  Workers should be able to recognize the symptoms of heat stress in themselves and coworkers. Signs and symptoms of heat stress include:

  • Onset of a headache or nausea
  • Decreased efficiency, co-ordination, or alertness
  • Increased irritability
  • Light-headedness, dizziness, fainting
  • Hands, feet, and ankles swelling, usually one to two days after first exposure

The OHS Regulation Section 7.27 - 7.30 addresses heat exposure. The employer must have policies and procedures in place to address the risk of heat exposure. A heat stress assessment plan can determine the potential for hazardous heat exposure for workers. 

Factors to consider include:

  • Environmental conditions (air temperature, radiant heat, and humidity)
  • Acclimatization - whether or not workers are acclimatized to heat
  • Work demands (metabolic rate category for the work) - light, moderate, heavy, or very heavy
  • Work clothing

If a hazard is identified, the employer must implement engineering or administrative controls to reduce the exposure of workers.

Engineering control measures could include:

  • The use of mechanical assistance (hoists, lift–tables, etc.)
  • Control the heat at its source through the use of insulating and reflective barriers (e.g. insulate furnace walls)
  • Exhaust hot air and steam produced by operations
  • Reduce the temperature and humidity through air cooling and air movement
  • Providing cool, shaded work areas or air conditioning

Administrative control measures could include:

  • Increase the frequency and length of rest breaks
  • Schedule strenuous jobs to cooler times of the day
  • Provide cool drinking water near workers and caution workers to avoid direct sunlight
  • Assign additional workers or slow the pace of work
  • Make sure everyone is properly acclimatized
  • Train workers to recognize the signs and symptoms of heat stress and start a “buddy system” since people are not likely to notice their own symptoms

Remember, the employer has a duty to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of their workers. Don’t wait for the next heat wave. Add heat stress to the agenda for your next JOHS committee meeting so you and your employer have agreed upon steps to take when the temperature rises. You have the right to work under safe and healthy conditions at all times.

Click here for more information or contact your BCGEU Occupational Health and Safety Officers at ohs@bcgeu.ca

UNIFOR467/MoveUP

June 20, 2016

BCGEU celebrates the 20th National Aboriginal Day


On June 21, 1996 the federal government declared the first National Aboriginal Day. Since that time, the BCGEU has joined the celebrations and the calls for increased support and recognition of Aboriginal peoples across Canada.

Over the course of those 20 years, Aboriginal peoples in Canada have fought for and won many advancements and reinforcements of their rights – sometimes through government initiatives, but often through rulings in Canada’s court system. (see cases below)

These decisions by Canada’s highest courts and Human Rights Tribunal have defined existing Aboriginal rights under Section 35 of the Constitution Act and helped to eliminate the systemic discrimination that past Canadian governments have imposed on Aboriginal peoples.

These court decisions, while at-times cumbersome and time-consuming, have helped inform Canadians of the constitutional rights and responsibilities which hold our governments accountable as we move forward as a nation. 

In addition to the court rulings, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report, released in 2015, chronicled the legacy of cultural genocide endured by First Nations peoples at the hands of the Canadian government. The report provides 94 recommendations representing calls-to-action to Canadians, including the initiation of a statutory holiday to reflect on the truth and reconciliation process. 

On this important anniversary, the BCGEU joins First Nations in calling on all Canadians to become familiar with the TRC calls-to-action and to honour the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. By building unity with Indigenous peoples, Canada can become an international example in advancing the rights of Aboriginal peoples.

Resources

June 20, 2016

BCGEU demands freedom for Iranian trade unionists

In solidarity with the Free Them Now campaign to free jailed workers in Iran, the BCGEU sent two letters demanding the release of Jafar Azimzadeh and other jailed trade union leaders. Click here to read the general solidarity letter, and click here for the the more specific letter. 

June 13, 2016

Love must be greater than hate – Orlando shootings

The BCGEU expresses deep sorrow at the brutal hate crime which occurred in Orlando, Florida this past weekend and sends condolences to the families of the more than 100 innocent people who were killed and seriously injured at the Pulse nightclub on Sunday morning.

Much of the news coverage has focused on allegations of extremist religious motives. But this was not an act of terrorism, although the effects reverberate fear across the LGBTQ+ community. This was a hate crime, exacerbated by a culture of intolerance and a lack of responsible gun control measures.

When politicians and political candidates are given license to promote racism, religious prejudice and homophobia, it fosters a culture of hate.

When people are allowed to purchase guns without a background check and with little or no public scrutiny, inevitably acts of violence will follow.

Canada is also not immune to hate crimes, despite progressive legislation and a reputation for tolerance. According to Statistics Canada, 1,414 hate-motivated criminal incidents were reported in 2012. Of those, 52 per cent were racially or ethnically motivated, 30 per cent were based on religious discrimination and 13 per cent had homophobic roots. 

But the LGBTQ+ community has a long history of resisting oppression and bigotry, going back to the Stonewall rebellion against repressive police raids in 1969. Last night there were vigils around the world to show support for the Orlando shooting victims, their friends and families.

The tragedy in Orlando is a stark reminder of intolerance in our society and fuels our determination to continue to fight for universal equity and human rights in Canada and around the world.

Over the next few months, Pride events will be taking place across the province. Please join in the events and help send a message that intolerance, discrimination and hatred have no place in our society. Celebrate diversity and make our world a place of acceptance, respect and freedom.