“Workers First” Bill Passes through Parliament

The Machinists Union and the Canadian Labour Congress applaud the adoption with amendments, by the House of Commons of Bill C-55, the Wage Earner Protection Program Act, and presses the Senate to follow suit, and adopt it speedily also.

The bill, also known as the Workers First Bill was introduced by NDP MP Pat Martin.

“The unanimous vote in favour of Bill C-55 in the House of Commons is a great step in the right direction for Canadian workers,” says Ken Georgetti, president of the Canadian Labour Congress. “It is urgent that the Senate also pass this bill to provide workers with desperately-needed protection of their wages and benefits, and of their collective agreements.”

The Wage Earner Protection Program Act will allow the creation of a Wage Earner Protection Fund to guarantee up to $3,000 to workers who suffer lost wages when employers declare bankruptcy; it will affirm the sanctity of collective agreements against bankruptcy proceedings; and it will secure the integrity of unpaid pension contributions at the time of the bankruptcy.

“The Wage Earner Protection Program Act, as adopted by the House of Commons, can restore fairness to workers in bankruptcy proceedings,” explained Dave Ritchie, Canadian general Vice-President. “It brings clear, predictable and concrete protection to those who often lose the most when employers become insolvent.”

The IAM and the CLC thank all the Members of Parliament, who gave unanimous consent to the adoption of this bill.


Supreme Court Ruling Good for Women, Families

A decision by the Supreme Court decision to uphold the federal government’s right to offer maternity and parental benefits through the Employment Insurance program is welcome news for Canadian workers. It is especially good news for working women and young families.

“Employment Insurance is one of the single most important programs the federal government delivers” said Barbara Byers, Executive Vice-President of the Canadian Labour Congress.

Only a third – just over 30% – of the unemployed qualify for unemployment benefits because the rules haven’t kept up with the times and how Canadians work. Byers said that by reducing the eligibility requirement across the country to 360 hours of work, the federal government could make the program a real insurance for today’s workers.


Corporate Director Pay Outstrips Workers Salaries

Compensation for corporate directors increased by 41 per cent between 2002 and 2004, according to the Conference Board’s latest Compensation of Boards of Directors survey.

Among the 49 companies that responded to both the Conference Board’s 2002 and 2004 surveys, the average annual potential compensation for outside directors increased from $26,177 to $36,917 over this two-year period.

The average wage of Canadian workers over that time increased 3.4 per cent to $35,551, up from $34,350 two years earlier.


Shift Workers Suffer Insomnia More Often

An estimated 3.3 million Canadians aged 15 or older, or about one in every seven, have problems going to sleep or staying asleep, and thus are considered to have insomnia, according to a new study in the latest edition of Health Reports. Just under one-fifth (18%) of these people average less than five hours of sleep a night.

While stress, obesity, and chronic pain contributed to insomnia, the odds that shift workers would report insomnia were high compared with other workers.