May 14, 2018 Latest News

George Fawcett, 31, shows up to the same downtown bank office every day on a schedule set by supervisors who trained him and direct his daily activities. But according to the temporary employment agency that placed him there, he is not actually an employee — either of the agency or the bank.

It’s the subject of a recent complaint filed by Fawcett to the Ministry of Labour after realizing he was not receiving public holiday pay and vacation during his temp agency contract at a Toronto-based Scotiabank. And, he believes, it’s a growing problem in a precarious economy.

“I wasn’t sure about the law,” he says. “It wasn’t till I worked on Thanksgiving and someone told me they would just be paying (the) regular hourly rate, not even time-and-a-half that I thought, definitely something’s up here.”

When he approached his agency, he was told he wasn’t entitled to the additional wages because he was an independent contractor, a category of worker that has no protection under Ontario employment legislation.

How a worker is classified has significant implications. Independent contractors are responsible for paying their own taxes, and are not covered by the province’s Employment Standards Act that governs things like minimum wage or overtime.

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May 3, 2018 Latest News

The Trudeau government broke a promise that it would not privatize pay processing to manage the Phoenix crisis with a new contract that turns over the work of public servants to IBM, says the Public Service Alliance of Canada.

PSAC Vice-President Chris Aylward said the union was given assurances that no work done by public servants would be contracted out to stabilize the pay crisis by Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale. Goodale heads the working group of cabinet ministers assigned by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to oversee the Phoenix fiasco.

He said similar assurances were given by Les Linklater, the associate deputy minister at Public Services Procurement Canada, who is stickhandling the government’s effort to stabilize of Phoenix.

“The government has broken its commitment to the PSAC, a commitment they made they would not outsource any work to stabilize the payroll system,” said Aylward.

“We are opposed to all contracting out…All pay processing should be done by public service workers and if more people are needed, the government should be hiring staff and not contracting out to IBM.”

Aylward said the contract will take over the work of public servants at the Gatineau satellite pay centre, who handle the 24-hour run of pay transactions and flag and fix errors as they crop up. He said that work will be given to 100 IBM employees and public servants will be reassigned to other work processing pay.


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May 3, 2018 Latest News

General Electric workers among participants at National Day of Mourning ceremony at Peterborough City Hall

Each year hundreds of people in Canada die of work-related injuries.

And each of those deaths is preventable.

At a ceremony at City Hall in Peterborough on Friday, advocates said there’s still plenty of work to be done for worker safety

“It’s not about working safely around the hazards, it’s about safe work and how to achieve it,” said Loretta Michaud, director of information services for the Worker Health and Safety Centre.

Many people at the ceremony were former workers of General Electric in Peterborough who claim they got sick from chemical contamination at the plant. Some were family members representing diseased workers.

One of those workers was John Ball, who is in palliative care after a life of working at the plant. He was a major advocate for workers rights and workplace safety who helped ring the alarm on the dangers of toxic substances.

Michaud says conditions are improving and training is increasing. Temporary workers are also seeing more protections than ever before.

“We have a measure of fairness in our workplaces against the growing wave of precarious work,” Michaud said. “If they kill a temporary worker they’re going to pay.”

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May 3, 2018 Latest News

Marion Burton, whose worked in labour and unions for most of her life, is frustrated with progress on former workers’ cases

On this week’s episode of the Peterpodcast she talks about how she got involved in unions when she was 22 and her current involvement in working to get compensation for former General Electric workers who claim chemical contamination made them ill.

“Those chemicals are in the plant, under the plant, in the air, out into the community, out into our water system, into Little Lake, down the Otonabee River… if that’s happening to our environment how on Earth can they say those same chemicals didn’t  harm the workers who were exposed to them day in and day out in a very high quantity?”

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April 19, 2018 Latest News

Longtime Peterborough labour activist Marion Burton is this year’s winner of the Scholfield Award of Community Distinction.

Presented by the United Way Peterborough and District since 2004, the award recognizes an individual or organization for outstanding contributions and ability to mobilize change within the community. Longtime philanthropists Paul and Ina Scholfield were the first recipients in 2004.

Burton received her award on Thursday morning at the United Way’s office.

“It’s a great honour. I know the award has been in the community for a number of years, and some really great people that really give a lot to the community have been recognized. To receive this award is a great moment for me,” Burton said.



April 19, 2018 Latest News

Labour activist Marion Burton is this year’s recipient of the Schofield Award of Community Distinction.

The award, established by the United Way of Peterborough and District in 2004, recognizes an individual or organization for an outstanding contribution and ability to mobilize change in the community.

“Marion has been a longtime volunteer in the community with the Labour Council and otherwise,” says Karen Wilson, chair of the United Way.

“In my regular job, labour issues and employment issues are very, very important. I’m with Employment Planning and Counselling Peterborough so there’s been many, many opportunities for me to see Marion at community meetings and get togethers. (She’s) always willing to put forth a lot of effort.”



April 10, 2018 Latest News

Gym giant GoodLife Fitness has settled a class-action lawsuit over unpaid wages for $7.5 million, after employees claimed the company “systematically failed” to accurately compensate them for hours of work and overtime.

The suit originally filed in October 2016 by Toronto-based labour law firm Goldblatt Partners alleged that the gym did not pay employees for certain kinds of work, such as preparation for classes and seeking out new clients, and created “an unlawful barrier to payment of overtime” at its 166 locations across Ontario.

Last year, the scope of the suit was expanded nationwide — so the settlement, which is pending court approval, will impact thousands of current and former non-managerial employees across Canada.

After the $60 million class action launched, GoodLife made significant changes to its payment policies. It began paying personal trainers for their prospecting hours and removed clawbacks on their commission. It also began paying trainers for preparation and administrative tasks and paying lieu time at time-and-a-half, rather than straight time, as required by law.


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April 10, 2018 Latest News

Temporary help agencies “create significant challenges” for the provincial worker compensation board and are more likely than other Ontario employers to break the law, according to an internal audit obtained by the Star.

The findings were the result of a “compliance intervention” strategy conducted by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board from 2013 to 2016, and were released to the Star under freedom of information laws. The audit found that temp agencies were significantly more likely to misreport their payroll to the board, and more likely not to pay mandatory insurance premiums.

Employers are required by law to report their payroll, which is then used by the compensation board to calculate how much employers owe in premium payments. These premiums are used to fund benefits paid to injured workers across the province.

While overall employer compliance in Ontario, according to WSIB audits, was 77 per cent, the audit found that only 38 per cent of temp agency employers followed suit.

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April 6, 2018 Latest News

Review of census data also shows wage gaps for women and racial minorities entrenched with little change over a decade.

Canadian universities and colleges talk a lot about the importance of equity and diversity on campus.

Yet when it comes to the academic workforce, little has changed in the last decade, with only a handful of Black and Indigenous professors, fewer women with coveted full-time positions than men, and “significant wage gaps” that penalize female and racialized staff, according to a new report.

The result is faculties that fail to reflect the range of backgrounds and identities of the students they teach, says the study, released Friday by the Canadian Association of University Teachers.

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The Peterborough and District Labour Council (PDLC) is the central body of union locals in the Peterborough area (Peterborough County plus Omemee) who are affiliated with the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC).

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