December 17, 2018
Ontarians should be deeply concerned at the speed and the manner with which the Ford government brushes away Charter rights by using back-to-work legislation, says the Ontario Federation of Labour. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects the rights of all Canadians.
“Charter rights must be upheld in all cases, they are fundamental to democracy,” said Ontario Federation of Labour President Chris Buckley. “If Ontarians allow this government to treat Charter rights as though they are flimsy protections, that is what they will become, and we will all suffer as a result.”
The Ford government has repeatedly undermined Ontarians rights when it comes to workers’ issues. It used back-to-work legislation to end the strike at York University, and threatened to use the notwithstanding clause to force a reduction in the number of Toronto city councillors.
“These workers have not even gone on strike yet, and the government is proposing back-to-work legislation. The speed with which this government tosses out Charter rights should worry every Ontarian. This time it is power workers, but there is no telling who will be on the receiving end of these rash actions next,” said Buckley. “Once again, the government is quick to strip workers of their rights by meddling in a free and fair collective bargaining process.”
The Ford government recently used Bill 47 to take away workplace rights from Ontarians including two paid sick days and a scheduled January 1 increase to a $15 minimum wage, despite widespread protest from unionized and non-unionized workers across the province.
The OFL represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For information, visit http://www.OFL.ca and follow @OFLabour on Facebook and Twitter.
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Ford, and his caucus, a group rife with ignorance about workers and the full and comprehensive process of collective bargaining (a right enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that Ford has already shown his contempt for) out of the gate start calling for some sort of legislated end to the issues at stake. When government can’t even wait for the ink to dry on the announcement of referendum results it shows that there was never any intention of permitting the process to run its course. In the Ford government there will not be one obsequious MPP, even those who claim some knowledge of the Trade Union Movement, who will stand for the rights of workers.
The Ontario Progressive Conservatives will recall the legislature from its Christmas break to impose a labour deal and prevent a potential work stoppage at Ontario Power Generation (OPG), government sources tell Global News.
The Power Workers’ Union (PWU) rejected OPG’s final contract offer on Thursday leaving employees in a strike position.
“OPG is disappointed that its fair and reasonable offer was not ratified by PWU members,” OPG said in a media release on Thursday.
“The offer provided PWU members with reasonable working conditions and benefits while recognizing the fiscal realities of the company and the Province of Ontario.”
Global News has learned Premier Doug Ford has scheduled a meeting with his advisers on the matter on Friday afternoon.
“Our members’ first choice is always to reach an agreement through negotiating in good faith,” Mel Hyatt, president of PWU, said in a media release on Thursday.
“We are disappointed that OPG provided a final offer that remained unchanged from the previous offer that had already been rejected. We need to reach an agreement that will strengthen the reliability of Ontario’s energy sector.”
PWU said the bargaining committee will meet on Friday to discuss steps to begin a 21-day “safe shut down” period in preparation for a strike.
Workers have been without a contract since March 31 and negotiations between the two parties have since reached an impasse.
The union said OPG refuses to reconsider its stance to deny over 300 term workers the rights of full-time employees. Currently, 300 Pickering and Darlington power plants employees fit in the term worker category.
The Ontario government says OPG, a Crown corporation, produces close to 50 per cent of the province’s electricity.
The Ford government says any prolonged outage caused by a job action “would jeopardize electricity supply to Ontario’s industry and businesses, which could have a devastating impact and ripple effect on our province’s economy.”
Times may change, but our principles never do
Wednesday, December 12, 2018 – 1:15pm
Times may change, but our principles never do. Just look at the historic year we’ve had.
There have been ups and downs, and plenty of new challenges, but our collective strength and dedication have remained intact through it all. So thank you – to each and every member for your resilience, strength and the work you do to make this union and province better.
As the pendulum of politics swings, we are the voice of reason. We don’t sacrifice our principles just because those in power have none. We believe that a better Ontario is possible, and we fight for it every day. That’s what OPSEU’s Vote Better election platform was all about. It was more than just a wish list, it was a vision. A vision based on the principle that everyone deserves a fair shot and a decent job.
But achieving any vision demands courageous actions, and sometimes a lot of patience. We don’t expect instant gratification, because we know that progress isn’t as simple as clicking “like” on Facebook.
Just look at our historic win for College support workers; the largest organizing drive in Canadian history. It was an uphill, 14-year battle, but it was an important one in the war against precarious work. It took the first four years to fight the law so that these part-time workers could legally unionize, but our members and executive board stuck with it and supported this effort all the way through. Times got tough, but we never threw up our arms and said “that ship has left the dock.” Now 20,000 of Ontario’s college support workers have the protection of a union. Because together, we fought for fairness, decent working conditions and respect – and we won.
Whether it’s 20,000 members or 20, our principles don’t change.
This year, a small group of members at the Owen Sound Family Health Organization were up against a bully employer, emboldened by our new bully premier. We rallied behind our sisters on the picket line and used the full force of our union to support them. And believe me, our presence in that community was felt, not least by the powerful and wealthy employers we stood up to. At OPSEU, we fight for what’s right for every member, in every workplace, and every bargaining unit – big or small, urban or rural.
When OPSEU members work together, we are stronger. And when the entire labour movement works together, we are stronger than any force. As workers, we are part of a common struggle, and with the election of Doug Ford and his anti-worker, pro-privatization agenda, we’ve got enough work to go around.
That’s why the year ahead is about building bigger bridges. That work has already started, as we continue to support our allies at CUPW and Unifor to demand fairness for workers at Canada Post and GM. Our principles matter, especially when our politicians have none. Ford and his cronies might think that a job is a job, but in OPSEU Country, good jobs matter, and we’ll keep fighting for them.
So while Ford is focused on tearing things down, we’re focused on our principles; bringing a better Ontario to every community and every corner of this province, and building solidarity in our regions. We’ve got to fight hard for a better future with good jobs and quality public services.
As we approach the end of 2018, this is the time to reflect on the principles that have guided us here, and that will continue to carry us forward – as workers, as members of a union, as members of the broader trade union movement, and as allies in a common struggle.
It’s been an historic year. I’m honoured to be your president, and to be part of a union family that fights hard every day for a better Ontario – a union with principles.
Wishing you and your families a happy and peaceful holiday season and all workers a great and united 2019.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas
President, Ontario Public Service Employees Union