Feds planning to exempt grain companies from providing employees 24-hours' notice of shift change
The Labour Program of the Government of Canada’s Department of Employment and Social Development has served notice that it is preparing to bring in regulations exempting grain handling and grain milling employers from giving employees 24-hours written notice of shift changes or additions. The grain handling and grain milling employer associations have been lobbying for exemption from a number of progressive labour standards changes since Sept. 1, 2019 when Part III of the Canada Labour Code was amended to, amongst other things, require employers to give their employees 24 hours’ notice of shift changes.
GSU has opposed the employer lobbying efforts during consultation meetings between stakeholders and Labour Program representatives.
In March 2020, GSU also filed a written brief supporting federal labour standards that provide employees with more predictability in their hours of work as well as better work-life balance. It appears that GSU’s efforts along with the efforts of other unions and community groups have combined to deflect most of the exemptions employers were seeking. However, on the important issue of shift change notice the employer lobby seems on the verge of success.
“The battle is not over,” said GSU general secretary Hugh Wagner. “We have until February 19, 2021 to make further representations to federal Labour Program officials and hopefully we can convince them to stick with the original plan announced in September 2019.”
“It is ironic that employers have argued for exemption because they say there are so many uncertainties in their industries and yet it is the workers who bear the brunt of all of the uncertainty,” Wagner said. “Why should wage earners suffer unpredictability and shifting work schedules when the real culprits are railway service and the commercial loading contracts the grain companies negotiate with CN and CP?”
GSU will be communicating its opposition to the exemptions and we are asking union members to do likewise. “The message doesn’t have to be elaborate. Straightforward emails from people in the workplace opposing exemption of grain elevator and grain milling companies from section 173.1 of Part III of the Canada Labour Code will be a big help,“ said Wagner.