November 17, 2017

BREAKING: New labour law is coming!

Congratulations to each and every one of you!
Bill 148 – has officially finished the amendment process and will now be going for 3rd reading. We expect the final vote to take place on Wednesday, November 22, probably quite early in the day.
Together, we made this happen. 
We had to fight for every millimetre of gained ground – especially after the legislation was first tabled back in May. We knew that Bill 148 wasn’t perfect, but we fought to make it better.
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That’s when the Big Business lobby suddenly realized our movement – the tens of thousands of us across Ontario – is strong enough to be taken seriously. We had to fight tooth and nail against threats and fear-mongering from our Big Business opponents. It took everything we had just to push our agenda a teeny bit further.
Today, after the final round of amendments, we can proudly announce there were no additional concessions to Big Business. That in itself is a huge accomplishment. But beyond that we were able to reverse the rollback granted to Big Business last August when the government agreed to define seniority by hours of work, rather than the date of hire for the purposes of equal pay.
To top it all off, we were able to strengthen the equal pay language, tighten scheduling provisions, and improve workers’ access to union protections.
What an accomplishment!
Now, Bill 148 is nearly complete. But the struggle for decent work is far from over. We need to keep fighting for everything we didn’t win in this round. And crucially, we must fight to protect our gains.
That the government didn’t concede a longer phase-in time on the $15 minimum wage is a testament to the strength of our movement.
We know that paid emergency leave, equal pay, fairer scheduling and so many other provisions of Bill 148 were not handed to us. We pried them from the hands of government.
And make no mistake. It could all be taken away in the June 2018 provincial election if Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown gets his way.So let’s take a moment to be proud about how far we’ve come. Then let’s rest up so that we can redouble our efforts to win $15 and Fairness for everyone in 2018.


Scroll down for more details about what we accomplished in this last round of amendments:  
Equal pay for equal work
  • We were successful in getting equal pay for equal work between full-time, part-time, seasonal and temporary workers – including those who work for temporary help agencies – into the original draft of Bill 148.
  • But we wanted to strengthen the equal pay language to make it harder for employers to avoid paying workers equally.
  • By organizing to expand the definition of what jobs are comparable for workers to get equal pay, we won a small – but important – change clarifying that jobs do not have to be identical for the purposes of equal pay.
  • We were also able to get rid of a loophole, added last August, that would have allowed employers to use seniority systems on the basis of the number of hours worked that would have put part-time workers at a permanent disadvantage compared to full-time workers.
  • But we must work hard to enforce equal pay for as many workers as possible once the bill has passed and become law.
Fairer scheduling
  • We were successful in getting three important commitments to fairer scheduling in the original version of Bill 148:
    • 3 hours of pay for on-call employees who aren’t called in
    • 3 hours pay of any employee whose shift is cancelled with less than 2 days’ notice
    • The right to refuse shifts scheduled with fewer than 4 days’ notice.
  • But in August, employers convinced the government to amend the bill to provide exemptions from these provisions. Since then we campaigned to tighten up loopholes and remove exceptions. We were successful in winning some small amendments. For example, we were able to get a vaguely-worded exemption more clearly defined so it will be less prone to abuse by employers.
  • Still we will have to be vigilant to ensure employers don’t win further exemptions after the bill has been passed.We are at a crucial stage in the legislative process for Bill 148.
Paid leave for sexual and domestic violence
  • Unions had been pushing for 10 paid leave days for domestic and sexual violence leave. The government introduced 5 paid days leave.
The right to unionize
  • The Labour Relations Act was also amended to improve access to information during organizing drives and combination of bargaining units.
  • Importantly, these improvements in the Labour Relations Act will come into effect on January 1, 2018.