Changes expected before Christmas

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Jacques Létourneau reiterates that it is primarily women who bear the brunt of the risk of getting a call one night to come to work the next morning.

This text is part of a special booklet.

Speaking as chairman of the national Appointment of the labor force organized in Quebec city in February last year, the prime minister Philippe Couillard said his government would propose quickly steps to improve the quality of life at work. Nine months later, nothing is still on the table, but changes to the Law on labour standards will be announced by the end of the parliamentary session next month.

Among the measures expected by the trade unions, are those that most of them claim in the middle of the campaign 5-10-15 : the fact of knowing his schedule five days in advance, to receive ten days of paid leave for illness or family needs and of course the minimum wage to $15.


“Quebec has long been at the forefront in terms of working conditions, writes the president of the Confederation of national trade unions (CSN), Jacques Létourneau. But with Ontario, and even Alberta, going towards a minimum wage to $ 15, we are in the process of we make exceed. As for the five days of the notice and ten days of sick leave, if the government wishes to, as he said, facilitate the reconciliation of work-family-study, it will not have the choice to proceed. “


Mr. Letourneau said that this is mainly women, especially in the case of a single-parent family, obliged sometimes to combine several jobs, who bear the brunt of the risk of getting a call one night to come to work the next morning. That they also most often take a day off to stay with a sick child or to dedicate time to a relative loss of autonomy. They also occupy the most positions on the minimum wage. Raise the standards of work would be so in the direction of a better equity between women and men at work.


But beyond these three central demands in the trade union world for the past few years, the issue of holidays should also be reviewed, believe other observers.


More holidays to more productivity


“We should align ourselves with what is practice in Europe, says Guillaume Hébert, researcher at the Institute of research and socio-economic information (IRIS). Today, only two weeks are listed in the labour standards. The government discusses the possibility of moving to three this fall. There should be at least four in our opinion, and it would be best to go to five or six, as in most european countries. “


Mr. Hébert stresses that, wherever there are a lot of paid time off, productivity is better. As absenteeism is reduced because workers are more rested and they have had the opportunity to take a step back. As their stress levels decrease, anxiety disorders also. In short, this is a good recipe to prevent burnout, ” this epidemic, which is developing more and more quickly “.


“Behind the increase in the number of days of vacation, he also has the right to disconnect,” adds the researcher. Because leave is good, but if it is revived every day with the stress of work because we receive an e-mail, it doesn’t work. In Europe, some bosses have understood this, and give bonuses to employees who completely sever the wire. “


According to the researchers of the IRIS, it is, in fact, the whole question of the time that should be redefined. They insist for example that all workers enjoy the system that allows professors to take a sabbatical by putting a portion of their salary aside. They wish that the status of close-helping them to be better defined and framed in order to compensate for the loss in the field of in-home service. They also call their vows a revision of the Law anti-strike breakers, claiming that the pickets do not want to say much at the time of the virtual work.


What about placement agencies ?


Regardless of the proposals that will be put on the table by the end of the year by the government, the CSN believes, meanwhile, that they must necessarily be complemented by a reform of the employment agencies, as committed to by the prime minister. Agencies that today are not regulated in Quebec, unlike the rest of Canada.


“It means that tomorrow, you or me, you can open a placement agency, recruit people to the Radisson metro station, and send them into the slaughterhouses of chickens or working in hotels, and then disappear a fortnight later in the nature without having paid the person “, explains the president of the union.


It is necessary, therefore, to provide a framework for these agencies, which are doing work a lot of illegal immigrants in conditions well below what that offer their own employees the companies in which they are placed.


“We need to start by knowing who are the employers of these workers,” said Mr. Letourneau. The agency or the company ? It would allow you to know who reports to a stoppage of work or training. Someone who needs to cut off the head of 1000 chickens per day, it is necessary that he learns how to do it. Today, there is a vacuum that ensures that the employee does not know who to contact. “


But if it raises the standards of the work, but that it does not ensure that the placement agencies must meet these same standards, the risk is that more and more employers circumvent the law by passing by the agencies, argues Jacques Létourneau.


Election year


A lot of expectations, therefore, of a nature to improve the quality of life at work. But do they think the next government announcements are likely to be at the height ?


“It is election year “, says the president of the CSN. It is not an exaggeration to believe that the government will make the announcements interesting. And then, there is also the economic context, full employment in many regions of Québec, which will certainly require the companies themselves to improve their working conditions to attract employees.


About Guillaume Hébert, he said that he was also ” relatively confident “.


“Either the minimum wage or the working time, there has been a lot of road traveled in the last few years across North America, he notes. These are most of the claims are marginal. I would be surprised that the government decided to ignore them completely. “

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