Sisters and Brothers,
What a difference a few weeks make. Last month at this time your National Executive was meeting in person in Ottawa, we were in the midst of getting ready for our 18th Triennial Convention and planning our annual charity golf tournament. Within a little more than a week, a world pandemic was declared, the physical national office was closed and we have cancelled or postponed all of our scheduled events. As a country we have had to learn about social or physical distancing and in some areas had provincial border restrictions placed on our movements. One thing stands true. We are not going to defeat this pandemic unless we work in solidarity. Please continue to follow the advice of our Public Health agencies.
Throughout all of this the work of the union and our members has to continue. Many of our members are critical workers. Airport staff are there to facilitate travellers who are still trying to get home. CCG search and rescue, lightkeepers as well as some Parks Canada canal workers are still monitoring the waters to protect mariners and communities. Port workers and Pilotage Authorities personnel are on the front line to ensure that the goods we all need are still able to arrive safely into the country. Some lab workers and technical inspectors are also going to work every day in order to ensure that the safety of Canadians are not compromised in another way while we are under self-isolation. Thank you to all of our members, Canada’s critical workers, who are still going to work every day.
Unfortunately, many of our members are faced with the negative impact of the novel coronavirus – especially in the private sector. They are faced with lay-off notices. Some employers are also refusing to follow the process as outlined in their negotiated collective agreements. We are pushing back. I have written to those employers who have provided layoff notices and demanded that they rescind the layoff notices. With the government’s recent announcements for wage subsidies of up to 75% and rent relief for airports, we believe that there is no need for layoffs any further. We will keep you updated on our website as to developments.
For those of you who have questions about layoffs, we have developed a one-page handout to answer the more often asked questions we have received.
Visit the UCTE website for information as things continue to progress. In this time when it seems that everything is surreal, I want you know that even in troubled times, UCTE will defend the collective agreement and will not rest until all our members are working again.