Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The CNIB (Canadian National Institute for the Blind) strike/lockout began yesterday March 15 here in Winnipeg. I have to admit that there is one thing that has always puzzled me about labour law here in Canada. Quite frankly I can't see any advantage to employers being the first to "draw their guns" and declare a lockout on the eve of an impending strike. If anything they should wait until labour "makes the first move" in terms of public support. Labour is certainly always happy to declare that they are locked out as opposed to being on strike, and to me the advantages of this are obvious. Could somebody more familiar with the law enlighten me ?
In any case the union, Local 832 of the United Food and Commercial Workers, has certainly been quick off the bat in garnering public support for their positions. Here, from their website, is a story about how clients of the CNIB have rallied behind the workers that serve them. Rather inspiring actually as management has been rather treacherous to clients in the past while workers have defended them.
Please refer to the Winnipeg Wobbly Blog as well as the Local website for further coverage of this strike.
Clients who use CNIB Services outraged
Will support striking CNIB staff on picket line.
UFCW Local 832 members working at Canadian Institute for the Blind (CNIB) will have the support of the people they help in Manitoba on the picket line at 1080 Portage Avenue.

Many of the clients that receive assistance from the staff at CNIB are ready to show their support and walk with them in hopes the remaining issue of paid sick leave can be resolved.
“I think it’s appalling that this strike is taking place. The support workers and everyone on strike have been very good to us, and they were there for us when CNIB closed down our specialty store in 2007. So we want them to know they have our support and hopefully the CNIB will put an end to this strike quickly,” said Eric Mackinder who is a client at the CNIB and the Winnipeg Chapter President for the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians.
The members at CNIB have already agreed to the company’s proposal of a wage freeze in the first year and their proposal of 2.5 per cent in the second year. The unionized staff at CNIB is paid generally $5 less per hour less than other non-profit organizations in the province. The remaining issues are over the reductions to the paid sick leave and long term disability the members have had since their first collective agreement. Both of which the company has stated at the bargaining table are not being abused.

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