TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Oct. 1, 2016) - Five thousand workers and their families rallied today at Queen's Park to demand meaningful changes to Ontario's employment laws. The Rally marks the beginning of the Week for Decent Work, October 1-7. Over the course of the week Ontarians are asked to connect with their MPPs and share information about what is needed to create better employment laws in the province.
"We're here because we believe that it is possible to create an economy built on decent jobs," said OFL President Chris Buckley at today's rally. "We know we can do better - we can build the Ontario we want."
Activists from over 45 Ontario communities arrived in Toronto for the rally, including Sudbury, London, Chatham and St. Catharines.
Speakers at the rally addressed the crowd about the changes to the Employment Standards Act and the Labour Relations Act that will improve their worklives.
UFCW's Tim Hum endured a 22-month strike at Wings Food Processing. The government needs to provide arbitration help so that workers and employers can get to an agreement, he said. Deb Henry, a grocery store clerk and union activist with Unifor Local 414, said that her colleagues, many of who are single parents need employers to provide schedules two weeks in advance. Paid sick days for all workers is needed so that workers don't lose their jobs or their pay for being sick, said CUPE Local 1989 President Laura Kaminker.
Ted Hext, Vice President of the Ontario Federation of Union Retirees noted that on the United Nations International Day of Older Persons, it was fitting to be at a rally against precarious work as many seniors are now unable to retire and end up competing in the job market, sometimes against their own children, for precarious jobs.
"Until my dying day I will fight for worker to be treated fairly," said Marjorie Knight, an organizer with Fight for $15 and Fairness, speaking about the need for a $15 dollar per hour minimum wage.
OPSEU Local 557 President Marilou Martin who discussed the need for decent hours, a higher minimum wage and the effect of precarious work on the Kitchener-Waterloo area. Security guard Jana Papuckoski, with United Steelworkers Local 5296, called on the government needs to end contract flipping.
Sulieman Bacharat, an organizer with Unite Here Local 75, spoke about the employer intimidation and the need for card-check certification. What kept him going was the poor treatment of the Trump hotel cleaning staff.
"This rally shows that Ontarians know that they need to tell the government to make it fair. It's long past the time where Ontario should have created conditions for good jobs across this province, and that's what we're calling on them to do right now through the Changing Workplaces Review," said Buckley.
The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) and its partner campaign "The Fight for $15 and Fairness" is inviting Ontarians to bring their friends, family, and communities to participate in The Rally for Decent Work. The Rally for Decent Work will bring together thousands of workers, their families and communities from across Ontario to carry the message that fair employment laws are needed in Ontario.
The OFL's www.MakeItFair.ca campaign takes on issues of inequality in the workforce, and coincides with the province's "Changing Workplaces Review." The campaign gives voice to unions' demands for across-the-board changes to the Employment Standards Act and the Labour Relations Act that would improve standards for every worker and make it easier for them to join a union.
The OFL represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For information, visit www.OFL.ca and follow @OFLabour on Facebook and Twitter.
The OFL's submissions to The Changing Workplaces Review identified a number of areas in which changes to government regulations could be made to raise employment standards for all Ontarians, whether or not they are in a union. The OFL has identified the steep rise in precarious work (contract, temporary, part-time and low-waged jobs) as a growing problem for Ontarians, many of whom need to cobble together multiple jobs or multiple contracts in order to meet their basic needs.
The OFL submission to the Changing Workplaces Review "Labour. Law. Reform." can be found here.
The Fight for $15 & Fairness is a campaign supported by community, labour, student and faith groups across Ontario. It is calling for sweeping reforms, including fair scheduling; further regulating temporary agencies; investing in pro-active, public enforcement of employment laws; imposing meaningful fines for labour law infractions; legislating seven paid sick days; an end to contract flipping; easier access to unions and more. Central in the campaign is the demand for a $15 minimum wage for all workers, regardless of age, student status, job or area of work. For more information, visit 15andfairness.org.