Decent work encompasses many things. Decent means employees get paid a fair wage that lets them pay their bills and enjoy their lives. Decent means schedules are regular and reliable, and available ahead of time. That way employees can plan their lives and rely on an expected amount of income. Decent means treating all employees equally. Discrimination should not be part of an employee’s work life.
It is decent to provide paid sick days. At one time or another all of us will get sick, have a loved one that needs help or have an emergency pop up. It is decent to respect employees and take the necessary steps to protect their health and well-being. Cutting costs on worker safety only leads to injuries, illnesses and fatalities that could have been prevented. It is decent to inform workers of their rights and to respect those rights. Exploiting lack of knowledge is just plain fear-mongering.
Decent work recognizes the humanity of the people performing the work.
There is no decency in a system that oppresses the poorest among us to work more jobs and longer, often unreliable hours to earn enough to just barely make it by. That economic torture bleeds into the rest of their life. There’s no decency in blaming others for being greedy instead of looking at the bigger picture. Why are we more comfortable telling others what they shouldn’t have than we are supporting them in their fight for what they could have?
We are capable of better.
Labour Day isn’t just about parades and picnics. Labour Day is a serious call to action. It’s a staunch reminder that the fight to bring decent work to our province continues.
It’s frightening that the notion of decency isn’t a given. We shouldn’t tolerate anything less. After all, if working people are also the customers, then aren’t we in control? If an employer can’t afford to pay a living wage, provide reliable schedules in advance or treat their workers with respect in any number of ways, do they deserve your money as a customer?
As a union, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Locals 175 & 633’s core belief is that workers’ rights are human rights. Decent work brings dignity and hope to the workplace. Dignity and hope are the lifelines of humanity.
It’s time for a human-centred approach to employment.
It begins with education. When workers know their rights, they’re far more likely to stand up and say “no” when something isn’t right at work.
It includes enforcement. Without a union, workers are on their own to take complaints to the Ministry of Labour. On their own. That worker must be willing to put their job on the line to take a complaint forward – because, without a union, there’s very little protection against reprisals.
It requires real incentive to do better. The damages fined against employers that break the law are pretty minimal in the scheme of things. This system basically says it’s okay to damage the lives of employees, but don’t you dare punish the employer too much because it might hurt their reputation or put them out of business.
We have the power and we have opportunities every day to create the kind of employment we want to see. We can demand better for our communities, family and friends.
Use your power as a consumer when you can. Little steps can lead to big changes. We can show bad employers that we mean business. We can tell them to take their no-respect, low-wage, bad health and safety record, union-busting business elsewhere. It has no place in Ontario.
UFCW Locals 175 & 633 is a union that represents more than 70,000 hardworking people across Ontario in almost every sector of the economy – from grocery stores to meat-processing facilities, retail stores to manufacturing plants, health-care facilities to hotels, and much more. We are the “local union for all workers” and we’ve seen it all.
Far too often, our organizing team at UFCW Locals 175 & 633 meets workers across the province who struggle in many ways,while working to make ends meet for an employer that has lost all humanity.
To workers who are struggling at work to find your voice, know that unions are here.
To those who have a bad boss and want to make things better for you and your co-workers, unions have your back.
The Labour Movement is here. It’s time for decent work.
Contact us at ufcw175.com/decentwork to find out more.