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May 11, 2021

MFL News

President Kevin Rebeck's statement on Manitoba's paid vaccination leave

Statement by MFL President Kevin Rebeck on today’s changes to Employment Standards to provide for Paid Vaccination Leave:

Today the Pallister government introduced changes to the Employment Standards Code to ensure that all workers have access to up to three hours of paid leave to get their COVID-19 vaccines. This will ensure that workers won’t lose pay for doing the right thing and getting vaccinated.

The MFL advocated for this paid leave along with the other members of the labour caucus of the Labour Management Review Committee. We were glad to build agreement and consensus support from the employers who also sit on that committee. 

 Today's announcement shows the importance of legislating paid leave to remove barriers to protecting public health, instead of setting up voluntary programs like the Pallister government has done for paid sick days. We encourage the government to take immediate action to protect public health by legislating paid sick days for all workers now.

You can find more information here.

 

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May 7, 2021

MFL News Health & Safety

Pallister government fails to ensure paid sick days for all workers in Manitoba

Statement by Manitoba Federation of Labour President Kevin Rebeck in response to the Manitoba Pandemic Sick Leave Program:

No one should be forced to choose between putting food on the table and staying home when they are sick to protect public health. The financial support program for employers announced today will not ensure all workers in Manitoba have access to paid sick days.

The program is voluntarily, not legislated like Ontario’s paid sick days program, so it will only apply to workplaces that decide to provide paid sick days. A provincial program meant to fill the gaps of the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit shouldn’t create more gaps by design. All workers should have access to paid sick days, regardless of their employer’s decisions.

We fear that, like many other employer support programs announced by this government, the intent here is to pay out as little as possible. With new and more contagious variants of COVID-19 spreading throughout Canada, there is an urgent need for government to put paid sick days in place for all workers to remove barriers to protecting public health. 

We are also concerned that the government is not providing three hours of paid vaccination leave like other western provinces, even though employers and labour have recommended it through the Labour Management Review Committee. No one should lose income for doing the right thing to protect public health. 

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April 20, 2021

MFL News Health & Safety WCB

Internal Workers Compensation Board report confirms over 1,200 cases of workplace transmission of COVID-19

An internal report by the Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba (WCB) reveals that there were over 1,200 confirmed cases of COVID-19 transmissions at Manitoba workplaces over the past year, Manitoba Federation of Labour (MFL) President Kevin Rebeck announced today. The report, obtained through a freedom of information request, shows the desperate need for permanent paid sick days in Manitoba, added Rebeck. 

“Far too many workers face the impossible choice between putting food on the table and protecting public health by staying home when they are sick because they don’t have paid sick days on the job,” said Rebeck. “With new and more contagious variants of COVID-19 spreading throughout Canada, there is an urgent need for government to put paid sick days in place for all workers.”

The internal report shows that between March 1, 2020 and February 28, 2021, the WCB accepted 1,227 COVID-19 claims. This means that there have been at least 1,227 cases of COVID-19 transmission at workplaces in Manitoba. Rebeck noted that these numbers would not include any eligible workers who were unaware that they could submit a WCB claim and would not include occupations that are not covered by the WCB, such as teachers. 

“Paid sick days would help to protect public health by allowing sick workers to stay home without leaving them out of pocket,” said Rebeck. “The need to protect public health and paycheques, during this pandemic and beyond, is simply too great for government to ignore.”

Rebeck noted that the federal government’s Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit has been a small step forward to help workers impacted by COVID-19, but it falls far short of what is needed. The benefit is temporary by design and interrupts workers’ income, requiring them to apply and then wait for the benefit to arrive. The benefit only replaces a fraction of lost pay for many workers. Rebeck urged the provincial government to move quickly on ensuring permanent paid sick days for all workers in Manitoba.

The MFL is calling for the establishment of 10 permanent paid sick days for all Manitoba workers, as well as an additional 10 days to be made available to workers in times of public health emergencies. Only 42 per cent of working Canadians who are older than 18 years report having access to paid sick days at work, according to the 2020 Annual Report of the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada. 

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April 7, 2021

MFL News

MFL Responds to 2021 Provincial Budget

After an exhausting and difficult year, working families are looking for strategic investments to rebuild our economy, strengthen the public services we count on, protect workplace safety and health, and pick up the pace on vaccinations. 

Like many Manitobans, I was disappointed to hear that the Health Minister is satisfied with the pace of vaccinations. This government is nowhere near the 20,000 vaccinations a day it claimed it could administer. We need to see more urgency from the Pallister government - public health and our economy depend on it.  

Government should be leading the recovery through forward-looking plans to protect our economic future, with the goal of maintaining employment and getting thousands of Manitobans back to work in fairly paid, family supporting jobs. And with so many women forced out of the workforce by this pandemic, child care needs are a top priority for working families. But this government has no plan to create desperately needed affordable child care spaces.  

This budget also continues the Pallister government's obsession with imposed wage freezes, rather than letting workers negotiate fair contracts. That does nothing to support working families and grow our economy. 

Brian Pallister and his Finance Minister Scott Fielding continue to stubbornly focus on the money but not the needs of working families.

-Kevin Rebeck, President of the Manitoba Federation of Labour 

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February 25, 2021

MFL News General

Joint Statement by Canada’s Provincial and Territorial Federations of Labour

We can’t afford to wait. It’s time for paid sick days for every worker in Canada.

In advance of the federal, provincial and territorial labour ministers’ meeting, provincial and territorial federations of labour are united in demanding that provincial and territorial governments guarantee seamless access to universal, permanent and adequate employer-paid sick days for all workers.

More than half of all Canadian workers have no access to paid sick leave. When they’re sick, they face an impossible choice between making ends meet and staying home to protect public health and get better. It’s a decision nobody should have to make. 

Workplace outbreaks and transmissions during the COVID-19 pandemic have made it clear that paid sick leave is critical to protecting public health. Yet the gaps in coverage are huge, especially among low-wage workers. There’s an urgent need for immediate government action — especially with new, highly-contagious variants now spreading through our population.

It’s a public health imperative that sick workers stay home from work, and not just during the pandemic. Illnesses like influenza cause thousands of hospitalizations and deaths in Canada every year. By curbing the spread of infectious diseases, employer-paid sick days would protect public health while increasing workplace productivity, offering more stable income for workers and reducing health costs for governments.

The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit is a small step forward, but it falls far short of what is needed. It’s temporary by design and restricted to COVID-related illness. It interrupts workers’ income, making them apply and then wait for the benefit to arrive. And the benefit itself only replaces a fraction of lost pay for many workers. While this new benefit helps, it isn’t universal and permanent paid sick leave.

Initially, some level of government support may be needed to offset costs for small and medium-sized businesses that have been severely affected by the pandemic. But the ultimate goal, in every province and territory, must be to ensure that every worker knows that when they are sick, they will not pay a financial penalty for doing the right thing and staying home to protect public health.

Public support for employer-paid sick days is strong throughout Canada. The need has never been more apparent or more urgent. We call on Canada’s labour ministers to prioritize the implementation of universal, permanent and adequate employer-paidpaid sick leave for all workers now.

This joint statement is being distributed on behalf the Alberta Federation of Labour, British Columbia Federation of Labour, Manitoba Federation of Labour, New Brunswick Federation of Labour, Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour, Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, Ontario Federation of Labour, Prince Edward Island Federation of Labour, Saskatchewan Federation of Labour and Yukon Federation of Labour.

 

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January 26, 2021

General Health & Safety

Manitoba Federation of Labour statement regarding the Pallister government’s changes to apprenticeship ratios

Statement by Manitoba Federation of Labour President Kevin Rebeck regarding the Pallister government's changes to apprenticeship ratios: 

The Pallister government has decided to make workplaces less safe for thousands of apprentices in our province. 

This government's recent regulatory change to the minimum journeyperson to apprenticeship ratio from 1:1 to 2:1 effectively means that apprentices will receive far less on the job supervision as they learn under experienced tradespersons. This could lead to more injuries and accidents at workplaces throughout our province. 

Manitobans that work in the trades are essential to our economy, and they often work with potentially dangerous equipment and in situations where risks are heightened. 

The longstanding 1:1 ratio meant safer workplaces for Manitobans as they learned their trade from those with experience. It also ensured a higher quality of education.

This watering down of workplace safety rules moves our province in the wrong direction.

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November 9, 2020

MFL News Health & Safety

The MFL mourns the death of a health care worker from COVID-19

The Manitoba Labour movement mourns the death of a CUPE health care worker from Victoria General Hospital who lost their life from COVID-19. We are saddened by this loss and hope the family, coworkers and friends of our fallen worker can provide each other comfort and support.

Every worker who goes into work deserves to go home safe and healthy at the end of every shift. Now, more than ever, we are relying on essential service workers to be there for us. We hear daily from workers who fear they aren’t being supplied with the appropriate personal protective equipment, how there are not enough staff to provide the care they need and want to, and how our health system is struggling to keep up with increased demands.

Manitobans deserve better. Workers deserve the right personal protective equipment to be safe at work, and that means having the best protective equipment available. We believe workers need to be informed and have an equal say in establishing the right PPE, and that they should not be provided with any less due to costs or other criteria. 

Today is a day filled with sorrow, let us ensure we do not continue to suffer losses tomorrow.

In Solidarity,

Kevin Rebeck

President of the Manitoba Federation of Labour

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October 7, 2020

MFL News

Manitoba Federation of Labour responds to Pallister government's Throne Speech

Statement by MFL President Kevin Rebeck on the Pallister government's Throne Speech:

Manitobans are concerned right now. They are concerned about keeping themselves and their loved ones safe from COVID-19. They are concerned about their jobs, and they are concerned about the future.  

People are waiting far too long to get a COVID-19 test, forcing them to wait in their car for hours and put their jobs on hold. Working families want to see tangible results that bring these wait times down as we continue to see rising cases of COVID-19 in our province. But making COVID-19 testing easier was barely mentioned in this speech.  

Working families also want to see a plan for rebuilding our province, one that creates good, mortgage-paying jobs. This needs to include expanded non-for-profit, affordable child care to allow parents to get back to work.  

We do give the Pallister government credit for one thing: we are glad to see them commit to the calls from labour unions to institute a paid sick leave program for Manitoba workers. Ensuring that all workers can stay home when they are sick without losing pay will play an important role in stopping the spread of this virus. 

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October 1, 2020

MFL News

MANITOBA FEDERATION OF LABOUR VOTES TO SUPPORT STELLA’S BOYCOTT

The Manitoba Federation of Labour, representing over 100,000 unionized workers in the province, is supporting the call by UFCW 832 to boycott all Stella’s locations in the province, MFL president Kevin Rebeck announced today following a vote by the MFL’s Executive Council. 

“Workers at the Stella’s Sherbrook location are on strike because of the continued disrespect shown to them by their employer,” said Rebeck. “And instead of realizing the error of their ways, this employer continues to dig in and treat their workers poorly. Enough is enough, it is time for to show your support for fairness in the workplace and boycott this employer until they start treating workers with respect.”

As a result of constant attempts at worker intimidation and suppression, UFCW 832 is calling on the public and the broader labour community to boycott Stella’s at all locations:

1.    Stella’s Sherbrook – 116 Sherbrook Street

2.    Stella’s Catering & Commissary – Unit16 – 1100 Waverley Street

3.    Stella’s Bakery – 110 Sherbrook

4.    Stella’s Grant – 195 Grant Avenue

5.    Stella’s at Plug In – 460 Portage Avenue

6.    Stella’s au CCFM – 340 Provencher Boul.

7.    Stella’s on Pembina – 1463 Pembina Highway

8.    Stella’s YWG – This location is closed

The strike and boycott will continue until either the employer come to the table, and we resolve the outstanding issues. Or at the end of 60 days, either side can apply to end the strike through alternate dispute resolution.

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You can read more about UFCW 832's call to boycott Stella's here

 

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October 1, 2020

Story

Minimum wage should not be poverty wage

As published in the Winnipeg Free Press, October 1, 2020. 

THE COVID-19 pandemic has shown how we all rely on workers whose wages are too low to pay the bills, even with full-time work. These workers deserve our thanks, but they also deserve to be paid enough to make ends meet. Having a job and working full time should be a path out of poverty, not a poverty trap.

But Manitoba’s minimum wage is one of the lowest in the country, meaning the working families relying on minimum-wage jobs are falling behind families in almost every other part of Canada. They deserve better from their government.

The evidence is clear that growing numbers of minimum-wage workers are adults. Nearly one in three minimum-wage workers has a post-secondary degree. The majority of minimum-wage earners are women, so keeping Manitoba’s minimum wage at poverty-wage levels means more working women are forced to live in poverty. It also contributes to Manitoba’s child poverty problem.

And despite the commonly held notion that most minimum-wage earners are teenagers working at mom and pop stores while attending school, the truth is that minimum-wage workers are more likely to work at businesses that employ more than 100 people, and they are more likely to have worked for the same employer for more than one year.

A recent study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Manitoba office shows that the current minimum wage of $11.90 is not enough to raise workers who earn it out of poverty. We need to increase the minimum wage up to $15 an hour in order to ensure full-time minimum-wage workers earn enough to stay out of poverty.

Minimum-wage workers are moms and dads, everyday Manitobans who are working hard and trying to make ends meet. But they are struggling. Keeping the minimum wage at poverty levels forces families to make difficult decisions between paying the rent, buying groceries, or school supplies for their kids, bus fare and other essential things.

The financial insecurity faced by workers is compounded by the fact many of them do not have any access to paid sick leave at work. The lower-paid the work is, the less likely it is that workers are to have access to paid leave in the workplace. This is particularly important for those Manitobans working in lower-wage jobs and in the service sector. The vast majority of these workers do not have job-protected paid leave provided by their employers.

According to recent data, only 48 per cent of the workforce in Winnipeg has access to any paid workplace leave at all, and workers in the accommodation and food-services sectors have the least amount of access to paid leave.

Our chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, has stressed for months that workers must stay home if they are sick, in the interest of public health and stopping the spread of the coronavirus. But to make this happen, workers need to have the ability to choose to stay home without taking a pay cut if they are sick or need to self-isolate. Forcing workers into the impossible position of choosing between staying home and earning a paycheque simply will not cut it.

Premier Brian Pallister was in the news a few months ago saying he is committed to a paid sick leave program to deal with this issue. But workers are still waiting to see any tangible results, and they are no better off than they were six months ago. With experts advising that we could continue to see a continued rise in COVID-19 transmission this fall, all workers need to have a paid sick leave program in place immediately. Now is the time for this government to deliver for working families.

The pandemic has shown that governments can act quickly on priorities when they have the will to do so. It is time to support working families in our province by bringing in a minimum wage that is enough to pay the bills, and by providing paid leave for workers to help them do their part to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Kevin Rebeck is the president of the Manitoba Federation of Labour

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