With few jobs available, workers are too often forced to choose between unemployment and precarious jobs with little prospect for building a decent life for their families, Unifor Economist Jim Stanford says.
“Job creation should be a priority, so workers don’t feel compelled to take these kinds of jobs,” Stanford told Ontario Regional Council this afternoon.
Stanford outlined Unifor’s 156-page submission to the Ontario Workplace Review, in which Unifor makes 43 recommendations based on input from Unifor locals across Ontario, many of which appeared at the Review’s public consultation meetings over the summer and fall.
His address comes just days before 40 Unifor members – working in such workplaces as grocery, retail, manufacturing, social services, school busing, media, aerospace, healthcare, telecommunications, and freelancers – go to Queen’s Park to meet with MPPs to ask them to support Unifor’s recommendations.
“Contract work, irregular hours, holding down two or three part-time jobs to make ends meet – this is increasingly the reality for workers today, particularly young people,” said Ontario Regional Director Katha Fortier, who will lead the delegation.
“The legal framework around work in Ontario has not kept up with this fundamental shift,” she said.
Unifor is calling for changes to the Employment Standards Act, including rules to better ensure stable scheduling and more opportunities for full-time work, access to benefits for part-timers, a pro-active approach to enforcing standards, and making employers responsible for the actions of temp agencies.
“Right now, if there’s a problem, employers just say it’s the agency’s fault. They should not be able to say that,” Stanford said.
Proposed changes to the Labour Relations Act include: electronic voting on union certification, holding certification votes in neutral locations, and first contract arbitration. Unifor is also calling for improved union and job security when contracted services are flipped.
Stanford said many employers use contract flipping to deny workers a decent living, in the name of cost savings.
“This is one of the most horrible and exploitive techniques that employers use these days,” he said.
Unifor's full submission is available at www.unifor.org/WorkplaceChanges.