Scheduling as a weapon


Under the terms of our contract, BTS is required to “offer” RPT’S and SPT’S “equitable distribution of offered hours.” It means they need to give all BTS workers an equal opportunity to work any available hours within a team territory or common locality.

BTS is always looking for creative ways to take advantage of contract language, even if the spirit and intention of a clause is clear. Scheduling is no exception.

We can’t stop them from taking this approach. But we can prepare you to handle these attacks. Knowledge is power. The more we all know about the terms of our contract and the tactics of our employer, the stronger we are as a team. And the stronger we are as a team, the more likely we are to arrive at equal terms with our Employer and Bell Craft employees.

Our contract says that “scheduling” shifts guarantees you an 8 hour or 10 hour work day. These days are mandatory.

BTS is waiting until the same day to “offer” you work, and trying to get away with offering a 4-hour shift. These hours can be considered under “equitable distribution of hours.”

The Union’s interpretation of the collective agreement is that a “same day” shift is “offered hours” and the Union believes that the decision to work or not is for the member and not BTS to make. This has been the practice for 20 years. The Union will be grieving this issue, and proposing to BTS that the issue be sent to arbitration for a decision.

If you receive disciplinary notice of any kind, contact your union steward immediately so that we can we can engage the company and file a grievance on your behalf.

Most of us are after full work days. We want guaranteed hours, the small bit of room to plan ahead (pick up the kids? take care of a parent? Run an errand?), and the dignity of knowing what we’re doing the next day when we go to bed at night.
This kind of stability affects our quality of life. Bell doesn’t think our quality of life plays a role in their bottom line. They’re wrong about that, of course, and it would be nice to change their minds in the long run.
The Bell Craft RPT employees are not facing the same tactics and we all know who our “REAL” employer is, so why not treat us equally, and not as a second-class workforce.

What is your health and safety worth? Apparently less than $6!


In the past, your Workplace Health and Safety Committee has carried spare safety glasses to handout when they found missing, damaged or scratched safety glasses. Recently they were denied an order of 48 glasses. The glasses vary in cost depending on the style from $2 to $6 dollars.  Yes, that’s under $288 dollars for the high end style.

Why would a company like Bell Canada shortchange the safety of its employees? Ok, that could be a rhetorical question.

To anyone who thinks eye protection may not be a crucial component of PPE in the workplace, think again. Nearly three out of five injured workers were not wearing eye protection at the time of the accident or were wearing the wrong kind of eye protection for the job. Eye injuries alone cost more than $300 million per year in lost production time, medical expenses and worker compensation.

The majority of workplace eye injuries are caused by small particles or objects (such as metal slivers, wood chips or dust) striking or abrading the eye. Injured workers said that nearly three-fifths of the objects were smaller than a pinhead. Injuries can also occur when nails, staples or metal penetrate the eyeball, which can result in a permanent loss of vision. Blunt force traumas caused by objects striking the eyes or face or from a worker running into an object are another threat, as are chemical burns from splashes of industrial chemicals or cleaning products.

The role of comfort in eye protection cannot be underestimated. Research has shown that comfort as well as style helps drive compliance with PPE-wearing protocols. PPE that allows workers to express their individuality also leads to greater compliance. Providing a range of options in terms of color and other style aspects gives workers some control over how they look. When people are content with their appearance in the PPE, it follows that they will be more likely to wear the PPE appropriately. And PPE that is perceived as “cool” is more likely to be worn.

Employees also must take care of protective eyewear to avoid scratches.  Scratched and dirty devices reduce vision, cause glare and may contribute to accidents. Glasses that are scratched or pitted should be discarded and replaced immediately.

An on-the-job eye injury can cause lasting and permanent vision damage, potentially disabling a worker for life. Even “minor” eye injuries can cause long-term vision problems and suffering, such as recurrent and painful corneal erosion from a simple scratch from sawdust, cement or drywall.

An estimated 90 percent of eye injuries can be prevented through the use of proper protective eyewear!

With a statistic as compelling as this, it makes both common and economic sense to do everything possible to make sure workers have the right PPE to protect their eyes on the job.

Every employer should make it a safety priority for its workers to operate with clear vision in their workplace and surroundings.

Your Local and the 416 WHSC committee will be pursuing this issue.

If you have damaged or scratched safety glasses ask your manager to replace them.  When lenses are scratched, vision becomes impaired and eyes are strained. When glasses are damaged, they may lose their ability to protect as they were designed to, and they are a safety hazard.

In Solidarity

Sam Snyders


forced overtime on Canada Day!

As I sit here filling out a grievance form, I take a moment to reflect on how this came to be.  I, like many of you, look forward to time away with family and friends during the summer months when we can fire up the BBQ.  But this Canada Day was a busy one.  I spent most of it answering the phone for many technicians who were all wondering the same thing – “Why am I being forced in on Canada Day?”

Normally, the answer would be an easy one, but on this day it was complicated by the knowledge that the company had loaned out its resources to Ottawa, only to turn around and find themselves short of resources here and then invoke forced overtime.

Sadly, the realization is that the workload is more of a priority than our Canada Day with family and friends….something that I find completely inexcusable.

If you feel as strongly about this as I do, then I invite you to reach out to your Local Steward and file a grievance if you were impacted by forced overtime on Canada Day.

We cannot and will not allow this sort of action to continue!

In solidarity,

Sam Snyders
President, Local 1996-O

Twitter: @SammySnyders

Where did our rights come from?

Today our basic rights to freedom of association, democratic representation in the workplace, and free collective bargaining may be easy to take for granted as having always been with us. But these rights didn’t just happen, or arise as gifts from enlightened employers or kindly governments.

Like so many other advances in human rights, each and every step on the path to social progress came through hard-won struggle. The basic labour rights that all Canadians enjoy today were fought for by the generations of working men and women who came before us.

Many have heard about the watershed 1946 decision of Justice Ivan Rand, who was appointed arbitrator to end a 99-day strike at Ford Motor Company in Windsor, Ontario. His decision to address basic union security — including a crucial requirement that everyone who was covered by a collective agreement had to pay union dues — was eventually extended across Canada and became known as the “Rand Formula.” But the struggle for union security in Canada started long before 1946 — and it didn’t end that year either.

At a time when powerful corporations and their friends in government are now trying to roll back the clock on workers’ rights, we have much to learn from the inspiring, and often untold, stories of the workers and activists who came before us, and from learning how our rights were won.

From Where Did Our Rights Come From – The Rand Formula and the Struggle for Union Security (pdf).

International Day of Persons with Disabilities Dec. 3

Letter dated November 28, 2014 from the National Union
View the letter as a PDF English / French

International Day of Persons with Disabilities: December 3, 2014

Working people understand that we do not live in a fair society and that this lack of fairness extends into our workplaces. Discrimination based on disabilities is a daily reality and we have a responsibility to confront it.

Our communities and our workplaces are designed with a fictitious “normal person” in mind as if having a disability weren’t in fact, normal.

Most of us will require some kind of accommodation at some point in our lives. When we do, we will need supports in place: we will need job security; we will need the assurance that we won’t become forgotten members of society; we will need medical coverage; and we will need time off and will need understanding. These are the things we fight for. If we are seeking employment, we want assurances that we won’t be stereotyped – or not hired – because of our disability.

As trade unionists, we take a working-class perspective on disability. People with disabilities need and deserve meaningful work – we all need to feed ourselves and our families and we all deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. We will not allow our worth as people to be measured by how well we fit into a flawed mold that discludes many.

The annual observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities was proclaimed in 1992 by the United Nations General Assembly. The aim is to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of economic, political, social, and cultural life.

The denial of opportunities and negative attitudes are the main reasons people with disabilities are disproportionally absent from the workforce.

Unifor structures include Workers with disABILITIES Committees at Regional and National levels. Unifor negotiates language to ensure the equality of access differently abled people need and deserve. All Unifor local and workplace representatives take a weeklong human rights course in order to be educated on equity issues including ability.

Employers often resist employing persons with disabilities believing they will be unable to perform their roles and/or that it will be too expensive. This attitude is rooted in fear and stereotyping, focusing more on the disability than on the abilities of the individual.

Evidence and experience shows that when barriers to inclusion are removed, persons with disabilities are empowered to participate fully in societal life and their entire community benefits. Barriers faced by persons with disabilities are, therefore, detrimental to us all.

Unifor demands that the Government of Canada fully implement the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Canada signed the Convention in 2009, yet has taken few steps to implement this human rights treaty.

The commemoration of International Day of Persons with Disabilities provides an opportunity to address this exclusion by focusing on promoting accessibility and removing all types of barriers in society to ensure that persons with disabilities can exercise their human rights and participate fully in the economic, political, social and cultural lives of their communities.

For more information on the International day of Persons with Disabilities please visit

For more information on the United Nations Enable Film Festival please visit

Tel/Tél: 905-678-0800 x258 l Toll-free/Sans frais: 1.800-268-9040 l Fax/Téléc: 1-905-678-7868

Email: l Web: