FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 12, 2014
VICTORIA, BC – United Way, the labour movement and Together Against Poverty Society (TAPS) are teaming up to deliver a new project in Greater Victoria focused on supporting vulnerable, non- unionized, low-wage workers.
TAPS Employment Rights and Education Project will ensure that vulnerable, non-unionized, low-wage workers in the Capital Regional District (CRD) understand their rights as they pertain to the BC Employment Standards Act and receive summary advice and/or representation as required. Together Against Poverty Society is the first and only organization in Greater Victoria to offer such a service.
United Way is providing funding to TAPS under their 2014 community investment in the tune of $30,000 for the next 2 years. The Victoria Labour Council and affiliated unions are collectively contributing nearly $20,000 to enhance the work of TAPS’s Employment Rights and Education Project.
“Over the past few years, we have seen an increase in vulnerable, non-unionized, low-wage workers, such as youth and new immigrants coming to our office for support with Employment Standards issues and we have been unable to keep up with the demand,” says TAPS Legal Advocate, Stephen Portman. “We are thrilled that both United Way and the labour movement have responded positively to our request for support, forming a unique partnership that will ensure workers’ rights in Greater Victoria are respected.”
“TAPS approached United Way for financial support for this project and made a strong case that demonstrated the need for such a program and the benefits that would result for these workers who are in some of the most precarious low-wage jobs in the CRD,” says Patricia Jelinski, CEO at United Way. “We worked with TAPS to bring other interested groups to the table and are pleased that the labour movement has partnered with us to deliver this collaborative and important initiative.”
Mike Eso, president of the Victoria Labour Council is extremely proud of the labour movement’s decision to support the project. “This is exactly the type of project the labour movement can support to make a difference in the community. The labour movement fundamentally believes that all workers deserve fair treatment. This project will help ensure that some of the most vulnerable workers in Greater Victoria, who do not have the protection provided by unions, will still benefit from our support.” The project is being supported by a broad coalition of unions including: the BC Government Employees Union (BCGEU), Canadian Union of Public Employees BC (CUPEBC), the Greater Victoria Teachers Association (GVTA), UNIFOR, the Professional Employees Association (PEA), the Victoria Labour Council (VLC) and the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC).
For more information, please contact:
Stephen Portman, TAPS
Employment Standards Advocate
BACKGROUND: TAPS & Employment Rights and Education Project - This exciting new project fills a real need in the community in promoting fairness in the workplace for workers. As part of the Community Action Plan on Poverty, this project will help ensure that employees receive fair compensation for their work, and are not subjected to undignified working conditions. As well, this project helps increase access to justice for those who have a legitimate claim against their employers, but who cannot afford the services of a lawyer. If clients think that they have been wrongly dismissed, are owed money from an employer, or would like help talking with their employer about working conditions that violate employment standards, clients should contact TAPS to make an appointment as soon as possible.
Heather Skydt, United Way
Director Marketing and Communications
BACKGROUND: United Way is about change. We bring people together to change lives and build strong communities. We offer opportunities and resources to improve the social conditions and the well-being of individuals, families and neighbourhoods in the Capital Regional District. As the largest non-government funder in the region, United Way has raised over $144 Million to build a strong community since 1937. We are a leader in social change. Join us at uwgv.ca.
President Victoria Labour Council
BACKGROUND: The Victoria Labour Council (VLC) is the local organization of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). The CLC represents 3.2 million unionized workers across Canada. The VLC was founded over 100 years ago and is one of the oldest labour organizations in BC. The Canadian Labour Congress and United Way have come together at both a national and local level to engage and support workers and working families.
As a result of the unwillingness of the provincial government and the BC Public School Employers’ Association to offer any improvements to class size, class composition, and other important learning conditions for students, as well as the employer’s unfair wage demands, teachers will begin rotating strikes on Monday, May 26, 2014.
“Last week, teachers were hopeful when they saw the government and BCPSEA put out an olive branch by backing off the unrealistic 10-year term,” said BC Teachers’ Federation President Jim Iker. “But the next day, hope that this government would start negotiating in good faith faded when the employer announced a series of threats around wage rollbacks, lockouts, and attempts to divide teachers, parents, and students.
“BC teachers began low-level job action to put pressure on government and BCPSEA to bring fair offers to the table. Unfortunately, the employer has steadfastly refused to table any improvements to class size, class composition, and staffing levels for specialist teachers. Teachers have twice won the right to negotiate our working conditions, which are also students’ learning conditions, in BC Supreme Court. We expect government to bring new funding to the table to make those improvements happen.”
The rotating strikes will begin on Monday, May 26 and continue May 27, 28, and 29. All school districts will be impacted on one of those days. All schools will be open on Friday, May 30. Any extension of the rotating job action will depend on events at the bargaining table.
The rotating closures are part of a two-stage strike plan voted on by teachers in March. During that vote, teachers gave their bargaining team an overwhelming mandate to begin low-level job action and then move to rotating strikes if meaningful progress was not made in negotiations. In all, 29,301 teachers cast ballots—89% voted in favour of the two-stage job action plan.
“Teachers do not take job action of any kind lightly,” said Iker. “As teachers, we care deeply about our students and their education, but with another round of brutal cuts looming, we need to act now. With BC funding education $1,000 per student less than the national average, British Columbians must take a strong stand and convince Christy Clark’s government to reinvest in our students. It is time for government to make education a funding priority.
“Teachers remain committed to reaching a fair deal at the negotiating table that respects our work and provides better support for our students. If this government is serious about labour peace they should offer teachers a fair deal and show some good faith. We will remain at the bargaining table. There are six days left before the first schools shut down. I encourage Christy Clark and Peter Fassbender to be in touch, move off their unreasonable demands, and empower BCPSEA to negotiate a fair deal.”
The planned schedule of school closures (by school district name) is as follows:
The BCGEU is organizing a community meeting to discuss the provincial government’s surprise decision to close the Victoria Youth Custody Services centre.
The meeting will be moderated by University of Victoria professor Michael Prince.
Key stakeholders have been invited. BCGEU members and the public are also encouraged to attend.
Date: Tuesday May 20, 2014
Location: Reynolds Secondary School (theatre), 3963 Borden Street, Victoria