Author Archive

Absenteeism is bad for all of us.

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

Recently, there has been a great deal of attention given to the problem of workplace absenteeism. According to the most recalling-in-sick-to-workcent information from Statistics Canada, the average Canadian worker was away from work for the equivalent of almost two weeks in a year. Those 9.3 days lost translate to 2.4% of gross annual payroll, or $16.6 billion for Canadian employers in 2012.

Casual absences account for 80% of lost days for most businesses, and in most cases, these absences are not supported by any sort of medical note or certificate.

Absenteeism drives significant cost for the economy. In addition to lost productivity, companies may have to bring in a temporary worker or pay other workers overtime in order to attempt to recoup lost output. Product or project delivery may be delayed, customer satisfaction may lag, sales may be lost, employee morale may flag, key employees may get frustrated and leave…the indirect costs of absenteeism can be significant and long lasting.COE_CS2-NoFrame-480-300x272

Part of our Code of Excellence says we will, “Arrive to work on time, ready and willing to work.” Today’s workplace is much more competitive than in the past especially in regard to project owners considering the use of  unorganized workers and non-Union companies. We need to show our commitment to being better … showing up for work reliably everyday and on time. Absence and Tardiness on our part can be factors when its time for a project owner to consider the next round of bids for work we hope to garner.

Selkirk College Student’s Union

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

SelkStudentsIn 1981, students from Selkirk College join others from institutions across the country to form the Canadian Federation of Students. The Federation is your union, it exists to make post-secondary education better and …

(to read more follow the link below)

Selkirk College Student’s Union

Ladder Safety

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

Ladders are common but also dangerous

Ladders are one of the most commonly used pieces of equipment on a work site. Did you know they can also be one of the most dangerous?

Falls are the most frequently occurring and costly accidents in the construction sector, and falls from ladders are the most costly. From 2007 to 2009, there were 1,326 reported falls from ladders with claims costs totalling around 60 million dollars. In 2010 alone, there were 869 reported falls from ladders. What’s more is that the construction industry accounts for 42 percent of all fall from ladder claims WorkSafeBC processes.

Stepping Up to Safety

Don Schouten
Falls from ladders aren’t just something workers bounce back from; they usually take a person off the job for an average of 50 days. Imagine losing one of your seasoned workers for nearly two months, and having to train and orientate a new worker to replace him.

Sometimes workers don’t bounce back at all. Falls from ladders can cause serious, life-changing injuries — even death. Since 2001, there have been 13 fatal claims involving falls from ladders. In fact, just in the month of May, three B.C. workers died after falling from ladders. I think you would agree that this is unacceptable.

Anytime a worker is injured or killed at work, it’s not just about them. The consequences and impact of that incident reverberate through their families, their coworkers, the work site, and the industry as a whole.

Before workers start work, they should ask themselves: do I have the right tool for the job? They should consider whether a ladder is the best piece of equipment for the task, or if a properly-constructed work platform or scaffolding would be safer to work from.

A ladder must be inspected before each use. It should be in good condition and strong enough for the job. Any ladders with loose, broken, or missing rungs, or have split or bent side rails are unsafe. Damaged ladders should be destroyed and discarded.

The top of the ladder must be resting against a firm structure and secured to prevent it from slipping. It also needs to extend a minimum of one metre above the top surface. The base of the ladder should rest on a firm, level foundation, and be secured to prevent side-slip or kick-out from the base.

The sections of an extension ladder need to overlap according to the manufacturer’s instructions and all locks must be properly engaged. Also, make sure metal extension ladders aren’t set up anywhere near power lines or electricity.

When ascending or descending a ladder, workers should always face the ladder and use a three-point contact climbing method (two hands and one foot, or one hand and two feet). The worker’s belt buckle should always stay within the ladder rails — their centre mass should never reach out while on the ladder. Ensure they’re carrying their tools in a tool belt, or raising and lowering them and other materials with a hand line. Have a hoist available to carry heavy, bulky, or hazardous material up to the working area.

Whatever ladder is being used, remember that workers don’t have to fall far to be injured. Some of the most serious injuries have occurred when workers were just a few feet off the ground, such as when using a stepladder.

Stepladders may not seem dangerous, but serious injuries and even deaths have been caused by workers falling off stepladders. In the last five years, there were 530 serious injuries and four deaths caused from workers falling off step ladders. When a stepladder is used, it must be fully open and the spreaders locked in place. Remember that stepladders should never be used folded up and leaning against a surface.

No matter what type of work or project you’re doing, always plan for safety like you would any other job priority. Ladders are an important part of getting the job done, but not as important as your workers. Keep them from being a statistic; make sure they’re using ladders safely. It only takes a split second to change a life forever.

safety – lockout

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

every jobsite where you are potentially exposed to live equipment ,should implement a lock-out procedure to ensure that you are protected from electrocution hazards. this is a guide from worksafe, your site may be somewhat different ,but should be in compliance. if it is not ,contact the hall, and talk to your supervisor.

Union Strength is up to You

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Labour Day warning: If you want your union and your rights in the workplace, you’d better be prepared to fight to keep them
By David J. Climenhaga | September 5, 2011
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This Labour Day in Canada, unions and the fundamental right of working people to be represented by them face an existential threat. Elected union leaders seem for the most part not to be prepared for this reality.

As in southern Europe and the United States, the people who have in the past decade brought us bank failures, recession and declining economies are massing their not inconsiderable forces to further weaken the union movement in Canada.

If you think blatant and vicious attacks on the rights of working people and the social programs that support them are just a phenomenon that happens south of the Medicine Line, you’ve been smoking the peels of U.S.-grown bananas!

The ultimate goal of these people is to destroy the union movement and the ability of working people to bargain collectively, hence to act in their collective interest.

These anti-union forces particularly despise public service unions for the simple reason that the union movement has remained stronger in the public sector, in Canada and throughout the world. They recognize that the benefits and protections won by public sector unions provide a dangerous example to working people employed by private companies. How can they persuade us that “there is no alternative” when public sector unions prove every day there is?

As Catherine Swift, president of the so-called Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which consistently works against the healthy and flourishing middle-class communities that make independent businesses prosper, bluntly stated the position of these well-heeled and well-connected Canadians: “What would be ideal is getting rid of public-sector unions entirely.”

Some of the things their current agenda calls for include:

– “Right-to-work” laws — Cotton-Belt-style legislation that essentially makes it illegal for unions to organize or operate. Mark my words, though, the supporters of these laws will soon come up with a new misleading euphemism to replace this long-discredited name. “Employee Freedom of Choice” laws, perhaps.

– A ban on political contributions by unions — without a corresponding ban on political contributions by corporations. Remember, according to this worldview, what’s an undemocratic misuse of union members’ dues is “freedom” for corporate shareholders.

– The elevation through legislation to quasi-official status of regional house unions that collaborate with employers and governments against the interests of the working people they purport to represent. Why deal with unco-operative trade unionists when you can make like Juan Peron and cultivate your own sympathetic employer-union sweethearts?

– Myriad regulatory restrictions designed to make it hard to certify — and easy to decertify — real unions. For example, requiring “democratic” certification votes 100 per cent of the time, even if 100 per cent of the employees in a workplace have already voluntarily signed a union card. This strings out the unionization process and provides employers with loads of opportunities to break the law to threaten workers during that endless interregnum.

– A corresponding reduction in any penalties that can be levied against employers to meaningless slaps on the wrist, mere “costs of doing business” like photo-radar speeding tickets to taxi drivers. This situation already exists here in Alberta and makes a mockery of whatever laws may technically be on the books.

– The extension of “essential services” regulations to the private sector in ways that will enable any for-profit company to legally require their own union workers to act as scabs in the event of a strike.

– The need for “harmonization” of labour laws to maintain “competitiveness” among provinces. Needless to say, this cry will be silenced faster than you can shout “Adrian Dix” if the British Columbia NDP manages not to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and is elected in that province.

How do we know these things are on the private corporate agenda? Because they are all on the public agenda here in Western Canada, if they are not already on the law books in places like Alberta and Saskatchewan.

When the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees went to the government in 2007 with thousands of citizens’ signatures on a petition calling for such reasonable and simple legislative changes as automatic certification when more than half the employees in a workplace had signed a union card or binding first-contract arbitration when a newly unionized employer broke the law and refused to bargain in good faith, they couldn’t get in the door of the labour minister’s office.

When a cabal of anti-union contractors and other major Conservative Party donors went to the same minister this year looking for many of the things on the list above, he practically tripped over himself in his hurry to set up a labour law “review” to suit these generous contributors. Needless to say, there is no labour representation on this committee.

When a heavily coded question about “competitiveness” and the Alberta Labour Code was asked last Thursday at an Alberta Conservative leadership all-candidates’ forum, all six of the candidates spoke in favour of the kinds of measures described here, some of the most “liberal” among them the most vociferously.

Remember, this was a public forum and many people in attendance were not Conservatives, so they didn’t really have the excuse they had to say these things to mollify radical party insiders. One suspects that, due to the coded phrases used, few in the audience really knew what was being proposed or discussed.

Nor is there much worry about the likely unconstitutionality of such proposals in these anti-union circles. If at first you don’t succeed, they no doubt reason, there’s always the Notwithstanding Clause.

If such efforts succeed here in Alberta, it won’t be long before they’re coming to your part of Canada under the deceptive guise of harmonization and competitiveness.

So the labour movement’s leaders need to get off their duffs and do something more about this than publishing aggrieved press releases.

A good place to start might be putting some money into the campaigns of pro-labour politicians who have already proved their worth by getting elected.

It’s also time for labour to recognize the reality of the corporate media and provide some serious seed money to developing regional on-line sources of news and progressive commentary, as has occurred in British Columbia through the establishment of The Tyee, which embarrasses the mainstream media virtually every day.

And it’s also time to put some of our money into sophisticated marketing of the value of collective bargaining to our prosperity and freedom.

These ideas are just a start. But none of them will happen if we don’t wise up to the fact that the challenges we face in Canada are just as real and pressing as those of our counterparts in Wisconsin, Greece or Spain, or that the forces determined to destroy our rights are just as malignant and self-interested.

This post also appears on David Climenhaga’s blog, Alberta Diary.

Drug and Alcohol policy

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

Drug and Alcohol Policy

By now most, if not all of you are aware that the Building Trades and CLRA have implemented a jointly negotiated D&A policy. We have all seen the increase in D&A testing in other jurisdictions with that requirement driven by the owner.
It is the BCYT’s intent in actively participating in the development of this policy to arrive at one that acknowledges and addresses our members concerns into intrusion into non-work related lifestyle choices. It is also necessary that the union demonstrate that it is a responsible voice in working toward a safe and productive workplace.

The policy, I believe is one that strikes that balance. It specifically targets testing to on the job impairment through incident triggering, and worksite observation. It also incorporates the union’s participation in identifying problem impairment, providing treatment for substance abuse and provides a methodology for return to work.

In short, if you are using non-prescription drugs, and coming to work while under their influence, if you are involved in an accident, or near-miss you may be subject to testing.

If it is determined that drug or alcohol impairment was present, there are a prescribed set of steps to address the issue. Our intent is to address what is a problem, and avoid penalizing what isn’t.

For information on the policy please visit the link.