Oct 172019
 

Source: http://rankandfile.ca/occupy-ford-no-more-workplace-deaths/

By Anna Bianca Roach (@annabiancaroach)

Today, Oct. 17, at 14:45, a group of  40 activists gathered in front of Ontario Premier Ford’s office in Etobicoke. By the time they had arrived, ten people had already entered Ford’s office to occupy it. They were there to demand that the government take responsibility for the five deaths at Fiera Foods, one of North America’s most important food suppliers. 

In Early October Enrico Miranda, a 57-year-old who was crushed by machinery while working for Fiera Foods. Less than a year ago, another worker was killed when he was pinned between a tractor trailer and the loading dock at Upper Crust, one of a group of companies owned by Fiera Foods. In 2016, Amina Diaby, was killed when a conveyor belt caught a piece of her clothing and she became entangled in an unguarded machine. 
“We’re here today because we’re outraged and we’re in grief. There have been five temp agency workers killed at Fiera Foods, and two have died on the job under Doug Ford’s watch,” Pam Frache told RankandFile.ca. The action was organized by Workers’ Action Centre, Jane Finch Action Against Poverty and the Ontario Federation of Labour with the support of many community and labour groups. 

On the day of Miranda’s death, other workers received no breaks, and work continued on as usual. When community and labour groups held a vigil for Miranda outside Fiera Foods, management cancelled shifts, after an outcry Fiera Foods was forced to pay workers for those shifts.

Cuts kill workers 

The protestors at the occupation highlighted the inaction of Ford’s Conservative government, which has been avoiding the media for the last four weeks. Advocates for decent work have noted that Ford passed legislation removing the equal pay for equal work protections in the Employment Standards Act, which had incentivized employers to move away from using temp agencies. Temp agency workers have less rights, protections and power in the workplace and that is why Fiera Foods hires 70 percent of its workers using temp agencies.  

“We’re stuck in a system where employers like Fiera Foods aren’t held responsible for workers who die in their workplaces. And that’s what this action is about today,” says Fred Hahn, the President for CUPE Ontario. 
When workers hired through temp agencies are injured or killed on the job, it is the temp agency which is held responsible and see their WSIB premiums increase. But since temp agencies are fluid, closing up shop and reopening under a new name, there is little accountability. The reality is, temp agencies are a mechanism used by employers like Fiera Foods to avoid taking any responsibility and to avoid paying higher WSIB premiums when workers are killed or injured in their workplace. Temp agencies are a convenient way to offload risk, allowing employers to get away with not  paying WSIB premiums or not ensuring safety in their workplace. 

“As it stands right now, workers are often treated as disposable. And we know temp agency workers are far more likely to die on the job,” said Frache. 

Advocates in front of Premier Ford’s office highlighted that the mechanisms to ensure worker safety already exists, and would be easy to implement. Section 83(4) of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, would make companies using temp agencies financially responsible under WSIB for workplace deaths and injuries. It was was passed in December 2017 but has yet to be enacted. 

“All that was needed was a regulation. That regulation has been drafted, and so far the premier has refused to enact it,” said Rabbi Shalom Schachter of the Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition  “This was a very easy step for them to take.” 

Occupying Ford’s office

At the time of the action, Ford was absent from his office. Ten activists arrived at 2:30pm and entered the office, beginning an indefinite occupation. Staff locked the doors to Ford’s office and called law enforcement almost immediately. Half an hour after the beginning of the protest, police arrived. Nobody except for law enforcement has entered or exited the building since. 

“[Temp agency workers] are low-income, often racialized, migrant workers. One death is too many,” Simran Dhunna, a Fight for $15 and Fairness organizers, told the crowd before leading chants. “All Doug Ford has to do is come out here, sign [section 83(4) of the WSIA], and implement it.”

While Ford’s Conservative government delays enacting life-saving legislation, it has announced today that it will be giving its ministers a 14 percent salary hike. 

This news comes as a slap in the face to people everywhere who have been protesting cuts that continue forcing low income people, people of colour, and migrants like the temp agency workers who died working for Fiera Foods, into increased precarity.

Deena Ladd, an organizer with the Workers’ Action Centre and one of the occupiers, phoning into the press conference from inside the now locked office said, “Doug Ford says he’s for the people, but that’s bullshit!”

The occupation is still on-going, follow @rankandfileca for live updates, if you are in the GTA consider stopping by to show support, 823 Albion Road, Etobicoke. 

Aug 182019
 

By Gerald

This is how governments should function by standing up and fighting for workers, not like provincial governments that are complicit in protecting their sacred cows known as worker compensation boards. I watched a documentary involving workers in Peterborough Ontario who were denied and still being denied workers compensation by WSIB due to occupational diseases while employed at General Electric. Click on the following link:

https://www.workerscompensation.com/news_read.php?id=33420

Nov 252018
 

From Injured Workers Online:

Workers’ compensation: morality versus the business case

The experience of being injured at work and claiming workers’ compensation can greatly influence injured workers’ possibilities for rehabilitation and successful return to work. A new study examines why some claims are prolonged, conflicted and frequently associated with confrontational interactions between Ontario workers and others in the compensation system including employers and workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WCB/WSIB) staff. A doctoral thesis  by Dana Howse – Injured Workers’ Moral Engagement in the Compensation System: The Social Production of Problematic Claiming Experience (University of Toronto, Nov. 2017) – examines claiming from the perspective of injured workers in Ontario who have experienced difficult claims.

Her study points to radically different views of our workers’ compensation system. Based on interviews with injured workers, advocates and health care providers, she found that these injured workers experienced and understood the workers’ compensation system in moral terms: they see workers’ compensation as part of our justice system and evaluate experiences in terms of what is just and unjust, fair and unfair. However, the WSIB’s texts and practices reflected a neo-liberal view of the system where the goals are administrative and financial cost efficiency and policies and procedures are created or changed to achieve them. To move forward and  improve circumstances for injured workers with difficult claims, Dr. Howse suggests the WSIB reconsider its practices and the way its understanding of workers’ compensation is seen by injured workers…  [read ONIWG commentary and Plain language summary and full thesis]

  • Presentation Dec. 7, 10 a.m. EST:  Dr Howse will be discussing her study Friday December 7th  – sign in to the live stream at ONIWG’s Facebook 
    (If you don’t see the streaming video when you arrive at the page, wait a few minutes and try refreshing the page)
Nov 142018
 

By Gerald

Click on the following link:
https://www.thepeterboroughexaminer.com/news-story/9029941-after-nearly-24-year-wait-wsib-approves-claim-in-1995-cancer-death-of-general-electric-peterborough-worker/

This is a long standing claim that was reviewed and accepted after 24
years. Questionably is why it took 24 years to be accepted when the
courts have determined that claims do not have to be based on scientific
evidence. Claims are to be determined based on a contributing factor
which according to the courts range from a trivial contributing factor
to a probable factor. If there is no evidence to the contrary, the claim
remains in a neutral state and the benefit of doubt by law has to go to
the worker.

If in fact the NDP would honor the commitment made by the former
Conservative Government and open up all long standing claims, most if
not all of the claims would be accepted based on adjudicating the claims
on a lesser standard than the civil law standard that has been used
illegally by the Alberta WCB and the Appeals Commission.

Aug 172018
 

This is a media item that gives a good sense of the human reality in Peterborough right now.  With a tremendous collective effort by many people who worked at GE, their families and many activists and supporters, a significant number of claims have been won.  But even more have been denied on reconsideration.  So there is much work to do.

WSIB is a nightmare, say former Peterborough GE workers and families

May 302018
 

http://rankandfile.ca/all-out-for-injured-workers-day/

Alberta WCB is still broken Bill 30 did nothing to help long term claims. Alberta injured workers do not have the support , manpower or finances to get out there and let the public know the suffering never ends.

For injured workers the reality is clear, the WSIB in Ontario is broken and the loss and pain is on the backs of injured workers.

So every June 1, injured workers and their allies rally at Queen’s Park for Injured Workers Day, to highlight the flaws of the compensation system and the fight we need to continue to bring to the Legislature and the Ministry of Labour.

With just a few days before the election, the rally and march is an opportunity to make a stand, not only for injured workers but for all workers and people concerned about social and economic justice, that we have had enough of austerity and cuts. The rally on June 1, will send a message that no matter who gets elected, the age of austerity is over.

We can be sure that if Doug Ford’s Conservative Party is elected, privatization of the workers’ compensation system will be on his agenda – just as he will push for privatization across the board. We know that if this happens, it is low-income, vulnerable, and marginalized people who will suffer. So the Injured Workers’ Day rally is part of the fightback. We will stand up and resist, and take back our compensation system

On the eve of June 1, the Women of Inspiration, a group which offers support, knowledge transfer, education and outreach to Women Injured at Work, gathers on the lawn of Queen’s Park for “Sleepless in Queen’s Park.” This overnight vigil provides a safe space for injured workers to share poetry and song, and to tell stories of their battles for fair compensation because, if “injured workers can’t sleep; how can their elected representatives?”

On the following day of June 1 at 11:30am, injured workers and advocates join the Women of Inspiration at Queen’s Park to rally for Injured Worker’s Day. Joined by labour and community allies, injured workers from across Ontario will take to the streets, marching on the Ministry of Labour, calling on the government to deliver fairness from the workers’ compensation system.

In its 35th year, the theme for this year’s Injured Workers Day is driven by the success and hard work of the Ontario Network of Injured Workers’ Groups (ONIWG). ONIWG is an umbrella organization of injured worker groups in communities spread throughout the province, campaigning on the theme that Workers’ Comp is a Right. This campaign is demanding the compensation system return to its roots as a system that provides support and support and care for workers who have suffered injuries or illnesses on the job. The key campaign demands for a system that protects everyone are:

  1. No cuts based on phantom jobs
    2. Listen to injured workers’ treating healthcare professionals
    3. Stop cutting benefits based on pre-existing conditions

Through province-wide education and action on these issues, injured workers have successfully pushed their demands onto the political radar. We have collected thousands of petition signatures supporting the campaign demands, and heard MPPs read out the petition dozens of times in the Legislature. We have seen the NDP include injured worker issues in its platform – the first time since 1990 that a political Party has talked explicitly about injured workers. We have seen new injured worker groups form in communities where they did not previously exist.

So we are building. And after years of austerity and cuts, the compensation system is broken and the time is now to pressure those in power to commit to fundamental changes to restore justice. Join us.

May 252018
 

The ONIWG Research Action Committee has put together a one page handout  in advance of June 1st, Injured Workers Day.  This infographic is based on research done by our committee as well as academic research.  Over the last seven years, the  Ontario WSIB has more than doubled its reserved funds while cutting benefits to workers in half – resulting in thousands of workers with a life long work related disability ending up in poverty.

We encourage you to share this info widely – to friends, family and co-workers – and use it as a handout on June 1st.  It can be used as a stand alone piece or you can print it two sided with the Workers Comp is a Right material or local information.