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Atlantic Regional Council aims for provincial anti-scab legislation and increased health and safety protections

by pmnationtalk on June 13, 202422 Views

June 13, 2024

Unifor members in the Atlantic region marked a decade of fightbacks and victories as the Atlantic Regional Council convened in Halifax, Nova Scotia from June 10-12.

Longtime friend of the council and Elder at the Mi’kmaq Native Friendship Centre Debbie Eisen welcomed attendees to Mi’kmaqi. Unifor Indigenous Relations Officer Gina Smoke spoke about smudging and the smudging kits delegates received.

Atlantic Regional Director Jennifer Murray delivered the opening address, celebrating the strength of the CN Autoport workers who took a bold stand against one of Canada’s most powerful corporations.

“I am forever changed because of these members,” said Murray. “These folks took on one of Canada’s biggest and richest employers and stood their ground when it became obvious the company had no intention of bargaining fairly.”

Murray personally thanked the Local 100 members in attendance, who later shared their own thoughts on the six-week long strike that saw CN Autoport use scab labour within minutes of the legal picket line beginning.

Unifor National President Lana Payne celebrated the union-building of Local unions in the Atlantic Region in the past year, giving a special nod to workers at Local 597 in Dominion stores in Newfoundland and Labrador, and Local 1971 Sobeys workers in Cape Breton who won record-breaking wage gains.

“Something magical did happen in the retail sector this year, and I’m very proud of what we’ve done and accomplished as a union, because our members were brave and courageous,” said Payne. “Because when we work together, when we build solidarity, when we set our sights on something – there is no power greater anywhere beneath the sun.”

National Secretary-Treasurer Len Poirier told delegates about the leadership team’s approach to a few high-profile campaigns, including the CN Autoport strike and holding Bell Canada to account for their dismissive treatment of their workers.

“We are taking on Bell Canada for their despicable cuts to jobs and for the way they have treated our members throughout this process,” said Poirier. “We are serious about demanding respect and job security for our members in the telecom and media sector, and we’re serious about holding them accountable.”

Guest to the Council Nova Scotia NDP Leader Claudia Chender spoke about the importance of anti-scab legislation and her caucus’ commitment to pushing for card check and other worker supporting legislation to make life better and more affordable.

Unifor’s Director of Organizing Justin Gniposky and National Representative in the Organizing Department for the Atlantic Patrick Murray invited three members to talk about their recent organizing experiences. For Luan Tafic, whose workplace on PEI is in the midst of an organizing drive, the organizing process feels like running his first marathon.

“There are bumps in the road along the way – it goes up and down up and down – but the thing is, same as with running, I don’t give up,” said Tafic.

The panel also celebrated the success of organizing drives at CHEP Canada and O’Regan’s BMW.

There were also deep-dives into how local unions and individual members can improve health and safety protections in the workplace.

Director of the Health, Safety and Environment Department Joanne Hay led a panel discussion with worker safety professionals from each of the four Atlantic provinces, plus an expert in the federal jurisdiction.

Everyone on the panel agreed they have an ‘open door’ policy and love to hear from workers with questions about health and safety to help arm workers with the knowledge they need.

The Council approved the Regional Director’s Recommendations to prioritize health and safety education and training, fight for anti-scab legislation, mobilize members to vote in the upcoming New Brunswick election, and to grow Unifor in the Atlantic region by supporting organizing efforts.

See photos of the Council on Facebook for [Day 1] and [Day 2] and see the videos shown to delegates, including a recap of 10 years of victories in the Atlantic, on the union’s.

Media Contact

Shelley Amyotte

National Communications Representative – Atlantic Region



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