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BC basic income report calls for sweeping labour law reform

Worker wearing apron and beanie standing in kitchen
January 29, 2021 - 3:00 AM

VANCOUVER—Significant Labour Relations Code and Employment Standard changes are needed to reduce income inequality, according to the final report issued by the British Columbia Basic Income Panel.

“If you’re working, forming a union is one of the best anti-poverty strategies there is,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “The protections offered by a union go well beyond bargaining leverage for wages and benefits. Being a part of a union means your voice matters at work.”

The report, Covering All the Basics: Reforms for a more just society, makes 65 recommendations covering all aspects of provincial anti-poverty policy from income assistance to disability rights to tax reform. The expert panel was formed in 2018 to study the idea of a basic income guarantee in B.C.

The labour-focussed recommendations are consistent with Unifor’s priorities, including the recommendation for bargaining in sector-wide councils (e.g. trucking, hospitality) and successorship rights. Unifor says these measures not only help reduce precarious work, but they should be seen as an essential strategy to help workers cope with pandemic-related economic dislocation.

“The new Biden administration moved swiftly to reverse Trump-era clawbacks to workers’ rights,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director. “President Biden understands that an economic recovery can’t happen if employers have all of the power. The same can be said of British Columbia: the government must act now to give workers the tools they need to grow their economic power.”

Employment standards and the labour code protections still lag behind where they were under the previous BCNDP administration in the 1990s, despite the greater needs facing workers today, says Unifor.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

For media inquiries or to arrange interviews via Facetime, Zoom, or Skype please contact Unifor Communications Representative Ian Boyko at ian.boyko@unifor.org or 778-903-6549 (cell).