"There is no consistency, it's like management changes the rules to suit their needs."


An eight-year skilled trades veteran at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada

Hurt by a grueling schedule, short notice for working Saturdays and little relief, Toyota's skilled trades workers can look to Unifor on how to better their workplace.

Skilled trades working at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada are suffering fatigue, injury and less family time, due to tough working conditions, say workers.

But many of those problems have already been solved by Unifor at Cami Assembly, said Mike Van Boekel, chairperson Unifor Local 88, at Cami.

Toyota trades workers' concerns include:

  • Most are on a rotation of one week on days, afternoons and midnight shifts. Production workers get a two-week rotation.

"It's so hard to recover, people are tired all the time, your body never gets a chance to adjust," said one Toyota trades employee.

  • Cannot trade shifts with co-workers.
  • Toyota gives trades only three days notice, at most, if working Saturday.

"It makes it impossible to plan a weekend, to have family time, you don't know if they will force you to work."

  • Few apprentices in the plant, less opportunity to ease the workload.

"It would be great to have (more of) them here," added the worker.

Unifor skilled trades at Cami:

  • Won in contract talks expanded apprentice program, from five to 13, increasing the pool of trades workers.
  • If working a Saturday, must be notified eight days in advance.
  • A rotation schedule means trades workers get at least one out of every three Saturdays off, if they choose.
  • Rotation of two week shifts and can trade shifts if they choose.
  • Bank Saturday mandatory overtime for use as extra vacation, once 40 hours is reached a one week paid vacation is booked.

"At Cami we are able to have a life outside the plant," said Van Boekel.