TORONTO, Nov. 1 - Over 100 Ontario Locals of the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE) met today to endorse a fightback strategy in response to the Ontario government's labour law amendments, Bill 7.
UNITE represents over 10,000 workers in Ontario and over 30,000 members across Canada. UNITE is Canada's newest union. It was created earlier this year when the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union and the International Ladies Garment Workers Union merged. Major employers represented by UNITE include Xerox Canada and Levi Strauss & Co.
In a joint letter to the Minister of Labour Elizabeth Witmer and all Members of the Legislature, UNITE local leaders said: ``The two unions that came together to create UNITE have worked for almost a century, fighting for decent wages and benefits, safe workplaces and dignity and respect on the job. We are not prepared to see all that we have fought for rolled back by one dangerously out-of-touch right-wing government.''
"Bill 7 goes much further than merely repealing the reforms that were introduced by the NDP,'' the letter points out, ``In key areas of the law, the Tory legislation will eradicate worker rights that have been in place for decades.''
The fight against the Harris government's agenda will occur not only in the political arena, but in workplaces, at the bargaining table, on picket lines, in every community at every level. Employers who seek cooperation and partnership while at the same time supporting the government's anti-worker agenda are in for a rough ride.
The joint letter is being sent to every Ontario employer represented by UNITE so that they will understand the union's position.
"With a single act the Minister has set back the prospects for workplace partnership in this province and opened the door to a period of unparalleled conflict,'' the joint letter concludes.
Pat Sullivan, Director of the Ontario Joint Council of UNITE, stated ``We hope that through our aggressive fightback campaign the government -- and employers -- will finally get the message that workers are not going to sit back passively while their fundamental rights are dismantled.''
Ms. Sullivan noted that the Minister has not responded to repeated requests to meet with her to discuss UNITE's concerns about Bill 7.
"If the Minister of Labour thought that it would be `business as usual' after ramming Bill 7 through, she is sadly mistaken,'' Sullivan said.
For further information:
David St. Louis
Executive Assistant to the Ontario Director, (416) 510-0887
Canadian Office, (416) 441-1806