Hamilton’s Taskforce on Economic Recovery
Last week the Local Union made two presentations to the City of Hamilton’s Mayor’s Taskforce on Economic Recovery. The taskforce was set up to find out what key, rapid decisions and actions can be taken to spearhead recovery in the City of Hamilton.
The Taskforce created panels to reach out to Labour Stakeholders in particular sectors in order to hear the concerns from workers. UFCW was invited to present on the manufacturing sector in a panel that also included agriculture and healthcare and also behalf of retail, hospitality and tourism based Members.
Our presentation spoke to our early action of advocating in work places for new measures given the COVID-19 pandemic including:
- Enhanced workplace sanitation (particularly in common areas and surfaces);
- Providing physical distancing (including staggered shift and break times, additional break rooms, signage in the workplace)
- Contact tracing and screening protocols;
- Additional PPE (including gloves, masks, face shields and plexiglass dividers in break rooms and workspaces that couldn’t be distanced);
- Protocols around leaves for workers who were sick or tested positive;
- Protocols for the workplace if a worker tested positive (including line shutdowns, deep cleaning notification to workers, etc);
- Getting pay increases in many of the workplaces (meaningful to worker, helped motivate people to keep coming, was spent in the local economy and helped offset increased costs to workers like childcare);
The Local spoke to the ongoing concerns that COVID-19 brings such as: that there is no vaccine, the threat has not decreased, that safety measures and protocols should not be relaxed despite the province ending the state of emergency and how the removal of pandemic pay increases anxiety of the workers. Also, about the need for the municipal government to be leaders like how they put a masking bylaw in place and to make sure they work to enforce those bylaws.
Recommendations from the Local included:
- Advocating local business to maintain pay increases and to look at it as a value add in the workplace like safety features;
- Advocate local business to maintain all safety protocols including physical distancing, screening and customer limits;
- Consider increased fines for improper disposal of PPE like masks and gloves by public and enforce it;
- Maintain the masking bylaw and work with employers on enforcement so it isn’t the sole responsibility of staff to enforce it;
- Consider municipal childcare and transportation as workers will need both more than ever.