Dunlop re-elected NOLC President
February 8, 2007
The North Okanagan Labour Council will fight for the environment, a higher minimum wage, safety for people who work at night and for a municipal ethical-purchasing policy in what promises to be a busy year, says Brad Dunlop, who was elected to his second one-year term as president of the labour group on Wednesday.
Planning is already underway for the second Public Policy and the Environment Forum, set for June 8-10 at the Coast Capri Hotel.
The first forum, presented last fall by the labour council and Columbia Institute, attracted a strong roster of presenters and workshops.
Details on this year's event will be coming soon.
"It's an educational event for anyone concerned about the environment," said Dunlop.
Check the website www.ppande.org for updates.
The labour council has been lobbying since the fall for an increase in the minimum wage to $10 immediately, rising to $11 per hour in 2008 and indexed to inflation after that.
"The minimum wage hasn't increased since 2001," said Dunlop, who intends to urge Kelowna city council to adopt a resolution in favour of a minimum-wage increase. "The lowest-paid workers in B.C. are falling further below the poverty line.
They deserve to share in the booming economy that has benefitted many other British Columbians."
The labour council has also been active in urging the adoption of pay-before-you-pump legislation and stronger safety protections for people who work alone at night.
"We don't want any more gas station attendants to die on the job trying to stop gas-and-dash thefts," said Dunlop, referring to Grant DePatie, the Maple Ridge youth killed trying to stop such a thief.
"Grant's law, as it's called, is about saving lives. That's worth a little inconvenience -- if it can even be considered that -- to motorists."
DePatie and other workers who have been killed on the job will be remembered on the National Day of Mourning, which the NOLC will observe on April 28.
WorkSafe BC is planning to bring new regulations forward and several NOLC members have made presentations in support of these regulations.
"We won't rest until these regulations are in place," said Dunlop. "We're optimistic this will happen."
The NOLC is also continuing to lobby local MPs Ron Cannan and Colin Mayes to support anti-scab legislation now being examined by a House of Commons committee.
"We were delighted that our local members supported the bill in second reading, and hope they will see it through to its adoption," said Dunlop. The bill would prohibit replacement workers from being used during labour disputes under federal jurisdiction.
Experience in B.C. has shown that labour disputes are shorter and lack the animosity that used to be common since similar legislation came into effect in this province, said Dunlop.
"We believe some disputes under federal jurisdiction -- the Telus dispute and strikes and lockouts at northern mines, for example -- would have turned out much better for all involved had this legislation been in effect."
The NOLC also hopes later in the year to begin lobbying local governments to adopt ethical-purchasing policies. Such policies are being adopted by an ever-increasing number of governments throughout North America. They restrict purchases of goods made by sweatshop labour.
An ethical purchasing policy would require city suppliers to pay fair wages, respect freedom of association, women's rights and worker health and safety, and forbid the use of child labour, forced labour, excessive hours of work, and discrimination.
Also elected to the NOLC executive were Glenn Nowag, Kris Bothe and Cheryl Stone (vice presidents) Ron Bobowski (secretary-treasurer), Pat Bulmer (recording secretary), Karen Abramsen (southern delegate), Jeff Carsience (sergeant at arms) and Andy Pritchard (trustee). The northern delegate position will be filled at the April 4 meeting in Vernon.