Domestic Violence is a Serious Issue in the Workplace

Domestic violence is an issue that has ramifications far beyond just the home. We have seen this recently in the news with the tragic events in Sutherland Springs where Devin Patrick Kelley, who had a history of domestic violence, killed 26 people at the church his in-laws attended.

This issue can also have a deep impact at work, as a recent study at the University of Toronto has shown.

They interviewed men who were perpetrators of domestic violence, and learned a lot about how the abuse of their partner continued at their workplace. One-third of the men said they contacted their partner or ex ‘during work hours to engage in emotionally abusive behaviour or to monitor her whereabouts.’

A previous 2015 study by the Conference Board of Canada found that 71 per cent of employers and 55 per cent of government employers reported a situation where they had to protect an employee who was a victim of domestic violence.

It is clear this is having a huge impact in the workplace and one of the most troubling findings of the U of T study is that workplaces are not doing a lot about it.

They found that no matter the kind of job, level of seniority at the job or years at the job the vast majority of men were not aware of any resources that might help them address this issue.

Lead researcher Katreena Scott said in an interview with CBC news that the first thing to do if you see behaviour that is concerning you is to have a conversation with the person and call out the bad behaviour.

“Then link the person to the kind of resources they might need,” she said. “If we want to make women and children safer we have to start talking to perpetrators. Workplaces need resources and education.”

For more resources in Alberta that can help people in a domestic violence situation visit the Government of Alberta website or call the family violence info line at 310-1818.

Senate votes to change bill that would reverse anti-union laws

When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau won the 2015 federal election he pledged to reverse two laws that were viewed by many across the country as anti-union.

In November of that year he restated that commitment when he spoke at the Canadian Labour Congress gathering in Ottawa, stating that ‘labour is not a problem, but a solution.’

Unfortunately, not everyone in government sees it that way.

Download Our Guide On How To Know If Your Workplace Needs A Union!

The Senate amended Bill C-4 that reversed the original intent, which was to repeal C-377 and C-525.

Bill C-377 received royal assent on June 30, 2015, on the last day of Parliament and after years of debate. The amendment to the Income Tax Act, targets labour organizations with critics arguing that it is unconstitutional and violates the rights and privacy of all Canadians.

Bill C-525 would make the union certification process very difficult, eliminating the automatic card check certification and replacing it with a two-stage process adding a voting process in addition to card signing.

Many have argued that this extra vote gives employers the opportunity to intimidate workers before the second stage of the process where they vote on joining a union.

In a vote by the Senate, mostly supported by Conservatives, they changed the bill to keep the elements of Bill C-525.

However, a spokesperson for federal Labour Minister Patty Hajdu signalled that the government would be voting to reverse the Senate changes, according to the Globe and Mail.

In an interview with the Globe and Mail Hassan Yussuff, President of the CLC, said that the card check system has not shown any signs of problems.

Download Our Guide On How To Know If Your Workplace Needs A Union!

“It prevents employers from intimidating and interfering,” he explained. Every time there is a vote, employers do interfere. They express their opinion. They threaten to close the workplace.”

The labour movement, and those who want to unionize, will be keeping a close eye on the Senate as more developments come forward over the next few weeks.

How to Prepare Yourself in the Face of Job Loss

With 2015 the worst year for job loss in Alberta since 1982, job security is still a fear for many Albertans.

Even if you know it’s coming, no one is ever fully prepared for that awful moment when the big boss calls you into the office and gives you the, “Thank you for your service” speech. Sometimes the speech is skipped altogether.

Download Our Guide On How To Protect Yourself In This Economy

But there are plans workers can put in place when termination seems imminent. Here are some strategies to protect workers in the case of looming job loss:

1.     Have a resume ready

The first thing most people who are laid off are tasked with doing is finding a new job, which is no easy feat — especially in today’s economic climate. Even if you currently have a steady job, it doesn’t hurt to iron out your resume.

Resumes should be polished, up-to-date and include your current job and references. The Alberta government offers resume review services  and most municipalities offer local services as well.

2.     Legal rights

In the case of job loss, many employers will offer settlements or severance packages. Even though they might look fair, or even more than expected, it is still your right as a worker to investigate your worth.

Contacting a lawyer or accessing social service supports such as Alberta Works can give you a better sense of what you are entitled to as a worker and if you should take the settlement offered to you. Doing research beforehand can avoid last minute scrambles for legal aid in the case of job loss.

3.     Weighing your options

Especially if you work in the oil and gas industry, there is a possibility you may have to look down other avenues if cutbacks are pending. Even though you may have been hired for one gig, chances are you have skills for many other jobs.

The Alberta government has all sorts of career planning resources easily accessible online. In this economic climate, it never hurts to have a plan B.

Download Our Guide On How To Protect Yourself In This Economy

4.     Are you protected?

Depending on where you work, being part of a labour union can be a lifesaver when facing job loss. Whether you’re supporting a family or starting out your career alone, getting laid off is not something any one wants to deal with alone.

Having a union to back you up when facing cut backs or job loss is so important. It is also a great place to start when understanding you rights as a worker and how collective bargaining can protect you. Being part of a union can also protect your seniority and qualification for all classifications in the workplace.

Remembering Important Moments In Canadian Labour History

We have a lot to be proud of as Canadians and July 1 is the perfect day to celebrate that.  Our right to be a part of a union, to feel safe at work and to work reasonable hours are all things Canadians fought hard for, and that we sometimes take for granted today. There is a long list, but we have compiled a few of the significant moments in Canadian labour history. These important events are something think of this Canada Day while enjoying the fireworks or singing our national anthem.

The Toronto Printers Strike

Noted as one of the most influential strikes in Canadian history, this event took place in 1872 according to the Canadian Encyclopedia. It was part of a wider campaign in Canada called ‘the nine hour day.’ Over 100 strikers in Toronto fought hard to win a 54-hour work week and better wages.

The appropriately titled 'nine hour day' movement was meant to standardize shorter workdays. The movement had an impact on working class activists, led to the formation fo the Canadian Labor Union in 1873 and many other important changes such as the limited right to associate in trade unions and the passage of laws strengthening workers’ rights.

Royal Commission on the Relations of Labour and Capital

In 1889 the federal government established the Royal Commission on the Relations of Labour and Capital.

According to CBC News, due to a high level of injury amongst workers, this commission condemned ‘oppressive working conditions in many industries’ and made recommendations to improve them.

The federal government originally refused to follow through with any of the recommendations, saying that they would be infringing on ‘provincial authority.’

Ontario Workmen’s Compensation Act 

Created in 1914 this was the first Canadian model for provincial legislation that recognized that ‘some level of injury is inevitable and that compensation should be provided.’ Other provinces shortly followed suit – Nova Scotia in 1915, British Columbia in 1916 and Alberta and New Brunswick in 1918.

 The Right To Safety In The Workplace

In 1972 a very important legislation was passed in Saskatchewan that dealt with workplace safety called the Occupational Health Act. This legislation was considered a ‘first of its kind’ in not only Canada, but North America.

 Still existing to this day, the act states that workers have three basic health and safety rights.

.    the right to know the hazards at work and how to control them;

.    the right to participate in identifying, assessing, eliminating and controlling workplace hazards; and

.    the right to refuse work they believe is unusually dangerous to themselves or others.

Maternity and Parental Leave Rights

Maternity and Parental Benefits in Canada allow people who are pregnant, have recently given birth, are adopting a child or are caring for a newborn paid leave from work, but these rights came fairly recently.

The Unemployment Insurance Act (EIA), according to Statistics Canada, was created in 1940 and over 30 years later in 1971 maternity rights were added to it where mothers with ‘20 or more insurable weeks could claim up to 15 weeks of benefits.’

Ten weeks of parental leave benefits were added in 1990 that could be used by either parent or could be split between them. A decade later parental leave benefits were increased from 10 to 35 weeks, increasing the total maternity and parental paid leave time from six months to one year.