The Ontario government has launched a review of personal emergency leave (PEL) regulation 502/06 for auto workers after Ontario Labour Minister Kevin Flynn and Transportation Minister Kathryn McGarry met with a Unifor led delegation of unionized and non-unionized auto workers.
“We had a frank discussion on how regulation 502/06 creates a lesser standard of personal emergency leave for auto sector workers. It is unfair and is hurting workers and their families,” said National President Jerry Dias. “Auto workers have the same need for personal emergency leave as everyone else, they incur injuries, their kids get sick and when they lose someone they need bereavement leave. The lesser standard must be fixed.”
The provincial government appointed independent reviewers Buzz Hargrove, former National President of the Canadian Auto Workers, and Stacey Allerton, former Vice President of Human Resources for Ford Canada, to evaluate the impact of the personal emergency leave exemption and provide recommendations to the government.
Ontario’s Fair Workplaces Better Jobs Act allows workers 10 days of personal emergency leave with the first two days being paid leave. However, under the exemption, auto workers are only entitled to seven days for personal or family illness or emergencies and three days for bereavement, with none of the leave being paid.
“It’s not fair to treat auto workers as second hand citizens,” said Toyota Worker Representative Cindy Venier. “I do not abuse my time. I take pride in my job.”
“In addition to lobbying the government, Unifor has the ability to address this unfair regulation through collective bargaining,” said Dias. “However, thousands of auto sector workers are not covered by collective agreements so it’s important their voice is represented.”
Local union reps from GM Local 222 (GM), Local 444 (Fiat Chrysler) and Local 200 (Ford) were joined at the meeting by workers from Honda and Toyota which are non-union auto parts.
“Working at a large, profitable auto parts company it’s problematic that we’re not held to the same standard as the mom and pop restaurant down the street,” said F & P Manufacturing Worker Representative David Webster.
At the end of December when the exemption was confirmed by the government Unifor launched a campaign to advocate for fairness. To date, the Union has collected more than 7,000 signatures on a petition calling on the Ontario government to eliminate the personal emergency leave exemption for auto workers. To view the petition click here
“Employment standards should be fairly applied to all workers - full stop,” said Dias. “If it’s right for workers then it’s the right thing to do.”