CUPE Local 1356 Blog

Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 1356. We have three Collective Agreements as Local 1356, 1356-01, and 1356-02. The membership is comprised of the full-time and part-time workers of York University the Local website is at 1356.cupe.ca This Blog will include Local information and information garnered from sources other Universities, Colleges, Post Secondary/Tertiary Education and news sources supplying information.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Workers sometimes fear reprisals on safety issues

Workers sometimes fear reprisals on safety issues
Cornwall Standard-Freeholder (On)
Friday, June 22, 2007
Page: 6
Section: Opinion

On average, in the last three years, claims reported to Workplace Safety and Insurance Board included 350,000 for occupational injuries and disease and 540 claims for fatalities. As outrageous these numbers are, they indicate that we have a long way to go for healthy and safe workplaces in this province. I believe that a contributing factor is the fear of reprisals that workers face from their employer and another is refusal of Ministry of Labour to prosecute employers for violating section 50 (Reprisals Prohibited) of the Act.

Reprisals by employers against workers who seek compliance with the existing Health and Safety Law have been prohibited since 1971. Despite this fact, the adverse effects to worker health and safety resulting from fear of reprisals continues to remain unaddressed by the Ministry of Labour. The ministry makes no attempt to conceal the fact that they refuse to enforce section 50 (reprisals prohibited) of the Act. In fact website information directed at young workers, clearly states that the MOL will not even make a determination in a complaint under section 50. In addition, to state in their website "worksmartontario" "that it probably isn't a good place to work if your employer reacts by punishing you" if you complain about hazards or exercise your right to refuse unsafe work, is not acceptable and must never be. No worker in this province should lose a job for trying to protect their health or safety.

In support of the fact that in the absence of effective reprisal protection, workers will accept workplace hazards, even putting their very lives at risk. There is no evidence more compelling than that recorded in the certified transcripts of testimony given by workers who worked at the Westray Mine in Nova Scotia prior to the disaster which killed 26 workers on May 9, 1992.

The minister of labour stated the following in the legislature on Feb. 12, 1987. "If Ontario workers are to exercise their rights under this act freely and fully, they must be free from the fear of harassment, intimidation and reprisal. Therefore, the government intends to establish a new office of investigations to help workers exercise this freedom."

Today, no such office exist and no evidence can be found of an employer convicted for violating section 50 of the Act. (Reprisals) Today, MOL inspectors are prohibited from issuing orders under the reprisal section of the Act. MOL still refuses to enforce the legislation prohibiting such reprisals.

Considering this injustice in law, I ask our MPP Jim Brownell, to bring this urgent matter to the legislature. The office of investigations must be established and employers must be prosecuted if they violate section 50 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Rolland Seguin,

Cornwall

© 2007 Osprey Media Group Inc. All rights reserved.

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