Victoria Day in NS — if you’re not in a union, you will have to work Monday, for no extra pay!

 

The good news is that the annual May Two-Four weekend is coming up. The bad news is, unless you are covered by a collective agreement at your workplace, you will not get the Monday off with pay.   More bad news — if you do work that day, you earn only straight time: there is no holiday pay.

This is because Victoria Day, which is celebrated on Monday, May 21 this year, is not one of the 6 paid holidays in Nova Scotia.

Pretty well every mall, every store, garden centre, restaurant, and commercial service in Nova Scotia is open on Victoria Day. That is because Victoria Day is not one of the 9 days that the provincial government declares a retail closing day, as per the Retail Business Designated Day Closing Act. But government offices, the libraries, schools, hospital clinics and universities are closed.

 

If you get the day off with pay, thank your union –- better still get actively involved in your union. If you don’t get the day off as a paid holiday, consider asking a union to represent you and your fellow workers. That way the union can negotiate for you to get the Monday of the May Two-Four weekend as a paid holiday. Contact me for further information: equitywatchns@gmail.com

Want more rights at work? Want to fight bullying and discrimination in the workplace: contact equitywatchns@gmail.com and join our Equity Watch site on FACEBOOK.

Judy Haiven is on the steering committee of Equity Watch.

US & Israel celebrate in Jerusalem, as the Whole World watches the Bloodbath in Gaza

embassy1fromAP

On May 14, 52 Palestinians in Gaza were killed and 2,400 others have been wounded—500 of whom were hit by live ammunition — while they protested the US embassy move to Jerusalem. Of those killed, at least six were under age 18, including one female. 200 of the wounded were also under the age of 18, 78 were women and 11 were journalists. What was their protest? Gazans set up tent camps 500-700 meters from the border fence that Israel built to contain them.

The Gaza Strip is only 32 km from Jerusalem, where functionaries and diplomats from the US and its client states such as Cameroon, Czech Republic, Paraguay, Honduras and Guatemala helped the US celebrate it’s embassy’s move to Jerusalem. Months ago, at the United Nations, only 9 states supported the US moving its embassy from Tel Aviv, while 128 countries, including German and France, opposed it.

embassy2Monday’s massacre was in addition to the more than 39 Palestinians killed by Israel and the nearly 8,000 injured during the last six weeks of protests, called the Great March of Return. According to B’tselem[1], of those injured, the Israeli Defence Fores (IDF) have shot more than one-quarter, or 2100 Palestinians, with live ammunition. Gaza doctors have reported particularly serious injuries, mostly to the lower extremities, that “include an extreme level of destruction to bones and soft tissue, and large exit wounds that can be the size of a fist”. According to Palestinian Ministry of Health Data, as of 30 April 2018, Gaza doctors had performed 24 amputations on wounded individuals, 19 of them of lower limbs. To date not one Israeli soldier or civilian has been killed or injured.

Though the CBC insists on calling the cutting down of Palestinians “clashes”, there have been no “clashes” in Gaza. The IDF shot unarmed Palestinians as thousands massed near the fence which imprisons the 1.8 million inhabitants of Gaza, the biggest open air prison in the world. While some Palestinians did carry stones and slingshots, none had guns. The IDF had tanks, helicopter gunships, machine guns, drones loaded with teargas and snipers.

Israel’s defenders often say of the Palestinians,

“They must have done something wrong,” or

“What did they do to be killed?” or

“Why protest when you’re gonna get killed?” or

“They send their children out to be killed.”

We hear Israeli Jews, and many Canadian Jews, echo these questions. These are typical questions the Occupiers ask about the Occupied. In the wake of Land Day 2018, Palestinians launched protests over six weeks to demand the Right to Return to their homes, which were stolen by the Israelis, some in1948 and more in ’67, and protest the blockade of the Gaza Strip.  

In response, after all the carnage and the terror the Israelis unleashed on Gaza, we heard the Israeli Occupiers blame their Palestinian victims. Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor minimized concerns about the Israeli army killing unarmed civilians in Gaza. “We stand with Israel because we both believe in human rights, democracy worth defending, and believe that we know that it is the right thing to do,” he said.

His comment means that whatever Israel does is just fine with the US. This resonated with Israeli Jews, who encountered protests by Israeli Arabs at the embassy event Monday.

According to some journalists on Monday, they saw dozens of unarmed Arab-Israelis beaten and arrested by Israeli security forces outside the embassy, which elicited cheers from Israeli demonstrators who came out to support the embassy’s opening. As Israeli security grabbed the Arab-Israelis, the Israeli Jews chanted, “Burn them”, “shoot them”, “kill them”.

Israeli army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner insisted that all the killing and maiming the IDF carried out in Gaza did not “change the fact that Hamas set out 7 weeks ago to ruin this day in Jerusalem.” Unarmed Palestinian civilians are mowed down by the army and that same army blames Hamas for “trying to ruin” Israel and the US’s celebration in Jerusalem!

If not now when is the time to protest what Israel is doing? When is the time to “break ranks” with the establishment Jewish community in Canada – and say enough is enough. Now is the time for Canadian Jews and anyone who supports human rights and opposes the Occupation to speak up.

 

 

 

[1] See: https://www.btselem.org/gaza_strip/20180510_failing_healthcare_system_barely_handling_injuries

Good Friday’s a Holiday in Nova Scotia — Will you get paid?

 

Whether you work or not, you will be paid for Good Friday 30 March, if you qualify.

To qualify for a paid holiday on Good Friday you need to

  1. be “entitled to receive pay” for 15 of the last 30 calendar days

and

  1. have worked the last scheduled day or shift before Good Friday and the first scheduled shift after the holiday.

If your employer tells you not to work on the day before, or the day after Good Friday, you should still get paid.

If Good Friday falls on your day off, and you qualify – you are entitled to another day off with pay. rom-rabbit

So with all that in mind, if you qualify (see above), whether you work or you don’t work you are entitled to your normal day’s pay for Good Friday.

If you do have to work that day you get your normal day’s pay plus one and a half times your regular rate of wages for the hours worked on the holiday.

Let’s say you earn $12 an hour, and on a Friday you normally work 7 hours. You should get $84 (gross) whether you work or not on Good Friday.

If you do work on Good Friday, let’s say it is for a shorter shift of 5 hours. You will earn $12 x 1.5 x 5=   $90 for the day. So you take your day’s pay ($84) and add the $90 to determine how much you will earn if you work on Good Friday.

Remember: this pertains to you only if there is no union where you work. If there is a union, there is a higher likelihood the employer will not try to evade the law. The collective agreement might also entitle you to more than the legal minimum.

However, as for those workers without a union, there is a wide range of workers who are not covered by Labour Standards, and not guaranteed a paid holiday on Good Friday. These include: most farmworkers, real estate agents and car salespeople. People who work on fishing boats are not covered, nor are domestic workers who work in a private home for fewer than 24 hours in a week. If you work in the petrochemical industry, or manufacturing dependent on petrochemicals you are not covered. Finally, if you are an athlete, you will not be covered if your paid work is related to athletics.

One Paid Holiday: Two Retail Closing Days

In Nova Scotia, Good Friday is a paid holiday. It is also a Retail Closing Day. That means all businesses, and most stores must be closed.

Easter Sunday (1 April) is also a Retail Closing Day. Businesses have to be closed, but workers are not entitled to holiday pay.

There are more than 20 exceptions to the rule about closing! Many businesses can remain open on a Retail Closing Day including:

  • gas stations
  • hotels, restaurants
  • private clubs
  • cinemas, theatres
  • excursions for tourists
  • handicraft or souvenir shops
  • drug stores (limited in size)
  • fish shops
  • art galleries
  • laundromats

And if you do work on Easter Sunday, you are not entitled to holiday pay. You just get your regular rate of pay.

Easter Monday is neither a paid holiday nor a Retail Closing Day. Many unionized workers do have the day off – with pay — because their workplace is closed. This is true for teachers, library workers, civil servants and Canada Post workers to name a handful.

 

Canada’s 2018 Federal Budget– This is a security budget, not a women’s budget

 

The first time a national childcare program was promised by the Liberals was 1993. At the time, I had a 2 year old child and I needed quality childcare… I never thought 25 years later I’d still be waiting!

The Chretien Liberals’ Red Book promised 150,000 more childcare spaces over three years. And an injection of $720 million also over 3 years –provided the provinces matched it.

In 2004 then prime minister Paul Martin promised 250,000 new daycare spots, by 2009.

Harper won the 2006 election; his government was not especially interested in childcare.  Instead it gave parents a woefully inadequate monthly cheque of $100 – for every child under age 6.

In 2011, the Liberals, led by Michael Ignatieff, promised to spend $500 million each year and $1 billion in the fourth year of their mandate on childcare. However, they refused to commit to creating childcare spaces. And the Liberals did not win the election.

The 2018 federal budget boasts $7.5 billion will be spent over 11 years, starting this year. Economist Armine Yalnizyan said that since the wages of women of child-bearing age reached a plateau a decade ago, bigger investments in child care spaces would likely have the biggest impact on the stated goal of increasing the participation of women in the workforce. “It’s really frustrating that they want women to help with economic growth, but they won’t help women — this year,” Yalnizyan said

Here are the specifics about childcare worked out in the agreement with Nova Scotia:

  • the promise of 15 new child care centres – where, when and how?
  • 500 new ‘spots’ – where, when and how?
  • 90 new family daycare sites (are these for home daycares or to serve military families, or what exactly?)

The other provinces fare about the same, but only NS has funding for “family daycare sites”. There is no concrete agreement which spells out what “affordable” spaces are.

Morna Ballantyne, Executive Director of Child Care Now (formerly the Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada) said, “We are astounded that Finance Minister Bill Morneau has chosen to ignore the solid evidence that lack of access to affordable child care is the biggest barrier to women’s equal participation in the paid labour force.”

Still the budget drips with ‘support’ for women and recognition for women’s need to be in the workforce and to have better paid jobs and more opportunities. The word ‘women’ is mentioned 708 times, while the word ‘men’ is noted only 72 times in the 367 page document.child

However – from its budget allocations — the Trudeau government believes what helps women the most is increased weeks of parental leave (35 – 40 weeks paid at 55% of earnings), or split leave with women’s partners, and another 8 weeks paid at the paltry amount of 33% of earnings. The budget document says women in Canada earn a median income of $28,120 a year (compared with men’s median income of $40,180). That means a woman earning $28,120 a year will receive only $297 a week for each of her 35 weeks of parental leave. If she and her partner decide to split weeks and take the additional 8 weeks, she will receive 33%, or $178 a week for the final  weeks.

This change does little help most women and their families –in financial terms.

The budget document agrees that, overall, women earn 31% less than men in Canada, yet pay equity will only be adjusted upwards for those with jobs in the federal jurisdiction. Jobs in the federal jurisdiction means jobs such as civil servants, those who work for airlines, banks, or radio and TV stations for example.

There is provision for paid caregiver support to sick family members –which mainly relies on women.  Through Employment Insurance, a caregiver can receive  leave of up to 15 weeks from their job — at only 55% of income.work-life

And there is $1.8 million (over two years) earmarked for Status of Women Canada to provide programs about inequality meant to engage men and boys. Contrast that with $4 million over five years to go to the Dept of National Defence to support families of armed forces personnel affected by (domestic) violence.

In this budget we see the RCMP receive

  • $750 million over five years to increase cyber security;
  • $10 million over five years for further investigation into previously deemed “unfounded” sexual assault cases (which the RCMP and other police declared unfounded in the first place)
  • $4 million over 5 years to support mental health needs of RCMP officers
  • $327 million over 5 years to advance intelligence related to illegal trafficking in firearms
  • $60 million over 5 years to renew radio signals in four provinces
  • $80 million for one year to reinforce policing operations

This list totals more than $1.2 billion – new money which goes to the RCMP (that is $249 million each year).  

New figures show that 2,400 women in the RCMP have launched sex discrimination cases against their employer. Is there any institution in Canada which has treated women worse? Yet look at the new money the RCMP will receive. Clearly Trudeau’s budget says one thing about supporting women and does quite another.

57 Women Thrown Out of Elected Office by the McNeil Liberal Government

Since the McNeil Liberals have done away with local school boards  throughout Nova Scotia, 57 women have been pushed out of elected office. 

Of all the school trustees in the province, 55% were women.

Running for and (if elected) sitting on school boards is often the first rung on the ladder for women who want to enter the political arena.    Of course NS does not bother worrying about women in politics — as 33% of MLAs are women, and only 7 are in the Liberal government! 

Though not everyone thinks a lot about school trustees, they are a conduit for parents  to connect with their children’s schools and to raise issues about education in the province.  School trustees are  democratically elected  — people  in short supply across Canada and especially in Nova Scotia.  They are responsible for how school boards implement policies and practices.  Each school board member is paid   between $13,000 and $21,000 a year, and receives a per diem, for eligible expenses, to attend  meetings.  Last time I checked, all told, school board members’  pay and expenses amounted to less than $1.2 million per year. Hardly a king’s ransom. 

So why is McNeil getting rid of them? Why are the Liberals centralizing and controlling  health care and education? One health board for 1 million people and 1 school board for the same.  Damn right the teachers should strike — what else will wake up this neo-liberal and nasty government?mcneil

 

Where did the years go? life at age 100

In Japan there are more than 66,000 Centenarians, in a population of about 125 million– which is .05% of the population. 

In the UK there are 14,400 Centenarians in a population of 66 million. That’s .02% of the population.

In Canada there are 8,200 Centenarians in a population of 36 million.  That’s .02% of the population

Japan must be the greatest country in the world to grow old, and in fact has the oldest citizenry. Japan has TWO AND A HALF times the percentage of Centarians as the UK or Canada.   

Why is that? You could do worse than listen to this half hour BBC podcast Japan: New Ways to Grow Old

Happy Hour in Western Canada…

 

First it was Gerald Stanley, a 56 year old white Saskatchewan farmer, who managed to beat the charge of murdering 22 year old unarmed Colten Boushie. Boushie, an Indigenous man, drove onto Stanley’s farm. Boushie was with four friends in a car with a flat tire. In the farmyard, Stanley shot Boushie at point blank range in the back of his skull by Stanley. The jury of his ‘peers’ (meaning all-white) decided that Stanley was not guilty around 7 pm on Fri. 9 Feb. The jury deliberated about 18 hours, and their not guilty verdict was delivered just in time for Happy Hour at the local bar.

Then it was Raymond Cormier’s turn. On Thursday 22 Feb. Cormier, a white man, also age 56, was found not guilty by a Winnipeg jury of murdering 15-year-old Tina Fontaine. There was plenty of time to get to Happy Hour in this case. The jury had deliberated for only about 13 hours, and everyone was discharged before the weekend.

In terms of the prosecution, in both cases the crown seemed to be “phoning it in.”

Bill Burge was the crown in the Stanley case and presented what appeared to be a lackluster case. “He should never have been appointed,” said Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) Chief Bobby Cameron.

Sheldon Wuttunee, a former Chief of the Red Pheasant First Nation where Boushie lived echoed Chief Cameron’s concerns. “We had to encourage the crown prosecutor to prosecute and not help the defence,” he told reporters gathered in a tightly packed room. “It was very frustrating.”

Eleanor Sunchild a legal representative for the Boushie family claims the family was mistreated right from the start, as there was “little communication from the Crown to the family. There was no relationship there at all.”

In the Cormier case, the Crown and police had set up at least one “Mr Big” sting operation in an effort to entrap Cormier. It did not work; despite the police collecting hours of taped phone calls, Cormier never really confessed. The Crown also adduced no forensic evidence, and the Defence did not mount a case at all. Yet Cormier and teenager Fontaine had been seen many times together before she was found dead in a Winnipeg river. Her body was wrapped in a similar duvet to the one Cormier had and it was weighted down with stones.

There were many similarities in both cases but, oddly, the Crown prosecution services disagree. In each case, a white middle-aged man thinks nothing of ‘getting rid’ of his “problem” by committing a crime. Stanley didn’t want the Indigenous kids on his land. Cormier didn’t want to be charged with having had sex with an under-age girl. In the Stanley case, the white killer is 2-1/2 times the age of the victim. In the Cormier case, Cormier was four times older than Tina Fontaine. Both victims were poor and Indigenous, from First Nations’ reserves. If an Indigenous person is murdered, it seems the benefit of the doubt goes to the white guy.

The problem with the criminal justice system is that it’s rigged. The justice system tends to look at each crime in isolation and individually. It rarely looks at crime in terms of systemic issues. What happened in the Stanley case was that white jurors found it reasonable that when Stanley saw the Aboriginal kids drive onto his farm, he went to the shed to get a handgun and load it with two if not three rounds (bullets). Cormier’s defence managed to show that there was no direct link between Cormier’s behaviour, his phone conversations taped by police, and the murder of Tina Fontaine. Cormier’s defence argued the evidence was entirely circumstantial and no one should be convicted on the basis of circumstantial evidence. What came out at both trials is the following: no white person should be convicted of murdering an Indigenous person – even a child — based on circumstantial evidence.

Looking back thru criminal cases, I note the following famous murder convictions based on circumstantial evidence:

Steven Truscott, age 14, was convicted of murdering a school-girl Lynn Harper (1959);

David Milgaard was convicted of murdering nursing student Gail Miller (1969);

Peter Demeter was convicted of murdering his wife (1974);

Colin Thatcher was convicted of murdering his ex-wife (1984);

Guy Paul Morin was convicted of murdering his 9-year-old neighbour Christine Jessop (1984);

Thomas Sophonow was convicted of murdering Barbara Stoppel, a clerk in a donut shop (1981);

There are many cases of conviction based on circumstantial evidence—unless, apparently, the victim is Indigenous.