Intro ohs canada.july2012


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Intro ohs canada.july2012

  1. 1. Introduction to OccupationalHealth and Safety in Canada andCanadian Auto PlantsFor Russian Auto Plant UnionJuly 2012 Cathy Walker Former Director (retired) Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) Health and Safety Department
  2. 2. Greetings from Canada, world’s secondlargest country by land mass, withRussia being the first, of course
  3. 3. Our population is tiny bycomparison with yours 34 million in Canada 142 million in Russia
  4. 4. Your symbol is the fierceRussian bear
  5. 5. Our symbol is the little beaver
  6. 6. Nonetheless we have much incommon as workers and tradeunionists
  7. 7. Auto plant workers in Canada
  8. 8. Auto plant workers in Russia
  9. 9. Auto plant workers in China
  10. 10. Auto plant workers in Mexico
  11. 11. We have the same issues andthe same problems
  12. 12. The world used to be easier tounderstand, didn’t it? Two superpowers: U.S. and Soviet Union
  13. 13. The world changed in 1989 The Soviet Union imploded
  14. 14. Something significant happened inCanada in 1989 too Does anyone know who this guy is?
  15. 15. Free Trade Agreement (FTA)betweenthe United States and Canada Even though the majority of Canadians were opposed to it Effective January 1, 1989 Its purpose was to benefit American corporations
  16. 16. Ronald Reagan and Brian Mulroneywere implementing the corporateagenda of globalization
  17. 17. Corporate Agenda of Globalization:Characteristics “Free” Trade Privatization De-regulation Bad for public sector workers and bad for private sector workers Unfettered capitalism Attempts to destroy our solidarity
  18. 18. What is Free Trade?Karl Marx knew in 1848 “What is free trade under the present condition of society? It is freedom of capital. When you have overthrown the few national barriers which still restrict the progress of capital, you will merely have given it complete freedom of action. So long as you let the relation of wage labor to capital exist, it does not matter how favorable the conditions under which the exchange of commodities takes place, there will always be a class which will exploit and a class which will be exploited.”
  19. 19. What effect did the Free TradeAgreement have on the health andsafety of Canadians?
  20. 20. Workers Suffered from Speed Up
  21. 21. What year was this picture taken?What are they signing?
  22. 22. Clinton signing NAFTA, 1993North American Free TradeAgreement
  23. 23. NAFTA effective January 1, 1994
  24. 24. The Mexican people knew whatNAFTA was really all about; led toZapatista uprising in Chiapas
  25. 25. What effect did NAFTA have on thehealth and safety of Canadians?
  26. 26. We surveyed our members inauto assembly and auto parts tofind out
  27. 27. CAW -- McMaster UniversityAuto Parts Study1,600 workers in 1995 Conditions are bad: 61% said their workload is too much 40% said they worked in pain at least half the time 44% said their job is more tense than it was 2 years ago 55% said they couldnt keep up the current pace until age 60 53% said they worked as fast as they could most of each day 37% said they worked in an awkward position at least half of the day
  28. 28. CAW -- McMaster UniversityAuto Parts Study1,600 workers in 1995 And they were getting worse: 41% said their health risks at work were higher than 2 years before 45% said they were more tired after work than 2 years before 52% said their workload was heavier now than 2 years before
  29. 29. That’s the problem we faced:what did we do about it? We fought free We fought the trade on the effects of free political front trade in the workplace
  30. 30. Participated in broader struggleagainst globalization, FTAA and WTOQuebec City, April 2001
  31. 31. Our health and safetyrepresentatives and local unionleadership fought speed-up andadvocated ergonomics on a dailybasis
  32. 32. We bargained contractlanguage on ergonomics andtime study
  33. 33. Companies should spend As much money on making workers comfortable in their work as they do making customers comfortable in the cars
  34. 34. Large auto assembly plants:full time union OHS, Ergo andTime Study representatives Chosen by the union (OHS usually by election) but paid for by the employer In order to compel the employer to pay for the full time OHS rep, we have to bargain this in our collective agreements “time as required”
  35. 35. We encouraged workers torefuse work that was likely toendanger them
  36. 36. Poster:
  37. 37. RSI Campaign -- Nationally RSI Awareness Day, began on February 29th, the non-repeating day of the year; then on February 28th thereafter In workplaces and communities the campaign had posters, leaflets, meetings, and education and training including one day educationals
  38. 38. Ergonomics RegulationCampaign Nationally to mirrorwhat we’d bargained We were successful in some provinces and in the national jurisdiction
  39. 39. Canadian workers have a longhistory of struggle over healthand safety Union campaigns on the injustice of child labour, including children killed and maimed at the workplace, brought us workers’ compensation in 1913
  40. 40. Asbestos: Killer dust Canada was the major source of asbestos for the world for decades 1949 major strike among asbestos miners demanding reduced dust levels; fought the U.S. corporation, the church and the state Major political effect for Quebec: Quiet Revolution
  41. 41. 1970s, big strike wave overoccupational health and safety Once again, Quebec asbestos miners struck over need to reduce dust levels
  42. 42. Elliott Lake UraniumMineworkers in 1970s Dying from silicosis and lung cancer As well as from hazardous falls of rock
  43. 43. Workers’ struggles have producedbetter lawsIn 1974-5 in Ontario, minersstruck Elliott Lake uraniummines over health and safetyissuesThis led to a RoyalCommission to study theproblem in 1976Recommended OccupationalHealth and Safety Act,became law in 1979
  44. 44. The new law had somestrengths and weaknesses,and these continue today
  45. 45. Employers: responsible toprovide a healthy and safeworkplace; workers have littlepower
  46. 46. Workers Must Have a Voice For it is they who suffer injuries and occupational disease Workers know the hazards of the workplace best and they know the likely solutions best The new law guaranteed workers’ voice through the joint occupational health and safety committee system
  47. 47. Problem:Joint OHS Committees have no power Ironically, despite OHS committees being composed of half employer representatives, these same committees have no power to make decisions, but must make recommendations to the employer
  48. 48. Solution: Follow the examples of Sweden and Norway and give joint OHS Committees the power to make decisions which the employer must follow
  49. 49. Problem:If we give Joint OHS Committeesthe power to make decisions,committees may often stalemate
  50. 50. Solution: Once again, copy Northern Europe where workers are in a majority on Joint OHS Committees
  51. 51. Other solutions to ineffectiveOHS Committees: Copy the Australian states of Victoria & Queensland Give workers’ health and safety representatives the power to write Provisional Improvement Notices These act as posted orders on the employer for health and safety violations The employer must comply within 7 days or appeal to the government regulatory agency
  52. 52. Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004Provisional Improvement NoticeEmployer Health and Safety RepresentativeName/Company Name First name Last nameStreet no. Street name Name of Designated Work GroupSuburb or Region Postcode UnionServed to – Date issued Compliance dateFirst name LastnamePosition Must be at least eight Days After the issue dateIn accordance with Section 60 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, I, the Health and SafetyRepresentative named above, am of the opinion that you, the Employer/Person named above:(a) are contravening a provision of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 and/or regulations; or(b) have contravened a provision of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 and/or regulations incircumstances that make it likely that the contravention will continue or be repeated.The Provision of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 or Regulations or I believe has been contravened is:The reason for my opinion is:In accordance with Section 61 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, the measures I believe you should take to remedy the contravention are: Signature of person serviced toSignature of Health and Safety Representative Date received:Union:
  53. 53. Give Worker OHSRepresentatives the right toshut down hazards This was originally contemplated, but then government caved-in to employer pressure and provided a bi-lateral right to shutdown, which is meaningless But we’ve done this through practice in our workplaces
  54. 54. Give Worker OHSRepresentatives the power toapprove or reject new equipmentThe master agreements with GeneralMotors, Ford and Chrysler give the unionhealth and safety representatives the right toapprove or reject new equipment
  55. 55. Problem:In non-union situations, theemployer representatives oftendominate the OHS Committee
  56. 56. Solution: Make it easier tounionize Penalize employers who engage try to keep unions out Prohibit strike-breaking
  57. 57. 1970s in the autoplants: if theworkers didn’t likesomething, theywouldn’t work;they wereprotected; theyhad our union
  58. 58. History of Struggle We want workers to understand that our OHS laws were achieved through workers’ and unions’ struggles
  59. 59. Better regulations through struggle In 1986-7, hundreds members of our union at Toronto area aerospace plants, McDonnell Douglas and DeHavilland refused to work for weeks over the right to know about workplace hazards (chemicals) Cleaned up their workplace and set the stage for new law
  60. 60. WHMIS (Workplace HazardousMaterials Information System) Tri-partite committee (labour, employers and government) drafted the WHMIS system WHMIS became law in 1988 across Canada: labelling of chemical containers Material Safety Data Sheets (detailed information) worker education and training
  61. 61. Our Canadian OHS system isfar from perfect We know we have a long way to go Sweden and Norway have better laws than us Employers and right-wing governments try to take away what we’ve won And we know that fundamentally The class struggle is never over
  62. 62. Thanks very much