Women’s March – Halifax 20 January

About 400 people, overwhelmingly female. attended the second annual Women’s  March in Halifax. Our turnout was about the same as the one in Rome, Italy which has about NINE TIMES the population of Halifax.  The speeches were not given by politicians, unlike last year where the mayor (among other ‘dignitaries’ ) spoke.  Mayor Savage must have used the fact he wasn’t asked to speak this year to avoid attending altogether.  I also saw no city councillors or MLA’s, or MPs.  I stand to be corrected if one slipped by my eagle eye.

Canadians, Arabs and Jews for a Just Peace, plus Independent Jewish Voices – Canada and No Way to Treat a Child (UNJPPI) were the organizations that made the banners and carried the signs.  One of the hosts of the day, Rana Zaman, read a short speech about why the crowd should support Ahed Tamimi a 16 yr old girl who has been  jailed — with no bail — for slapping a soldier in the West Bank.  Look at my earlier posting for more on Ahed Tamimi.

This was a great day, I saw women of all sorts, plus children come out.

Also Liane Tessier (see https://judyhaiven.ca/2017/12/13/liane-tessier-and-discrimination-at-halifax-fire-service/) spoke eloquently about the need for oversight of employers in Hfx and NS on issues about equity.  She and I are starting Equity Watch at a public meeting this Thurs. 25 Jan. at 6 pm at the Central Library Halifax. liane-womens

After 10 Years, Hassan Diab is Finally Free–

By Judy Haiven

Few Jews today should have missed the lessons of the Dreyfus affair a century ago. Dreyfus, a French Jew, was a captain in the upper ranks of the French military. In 1895 he was convicted of being a spy, though he vigorously denied it. Systemic anti-Semitism and his being the only Jewish officer at his rank both played a huge role in his conviction. Despite evidence that another officer was in fact the spy, at a second trial in 1899, Dreyfus was again convicted. Jailed for years on the remote Devil’s Island, he became a broken man both physically and emotionally. Leading French intellectuals, artists and writers (including Emile Zola) rallied to his cause and protested Dreyfus’ convictions. In 1906 he was finally freed, and exonerated.dreyful-gettyHassan-Diab-justice-300x200

There are some similarities between the Dreyfus Affair and the case of Hassan Diab. Canadian Hassan Diab is finally free – in part thanks to many individuals and advocacy groups that worked for years to demonstrate the flaws and inconsistencies in the evidence against him, and that demanded a halt to his extradition to France. Diab’s six years of house arrest and three years in a French prison were outrageous injustices meted out to a man who had committed no crime.

Lebanese-born Canadian Hassan Diab was a marked man ever since once he was named as France’s only suspect in the 1980 bombing of a Paris synagogue that killed four people and injured 40. Since 1999, French police had set their sights on Hassan Diab whom they believed was a terrorist involved with a Palestinian group, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). But the French police could not clearly prove this. They said Diab’s was the same handwriting as the bomber’s and that an identikit photo proved it was Diab. However handwriting experts confirmed that Diab’s handwriting did not match the five handwritten words on a hotel registration card thought to belong to the bomber. Though a woman in Paris identified the attacker as between 40 and 45 years of age, Diab was only 26 at the time, a student writing exams in his university in Beirut. His presence at the university was corroborated by affidavits from other students and from documents sent by the university. The fingerprints and palm print on evidence found by the French police were not the same as Diab’s.

Nonetheless, despite linking Hassan Diab to the crime, in November 2008, France demanded his extradition to stand trial for the murders. Diab was arrested by the RCMP in Ottawa where he lived. He taught sociology at both Carleton University and the University of Ottawa. The Canadian court had imposed very strict bail conditions. For example, his wife, Rania Tfaily, also a sociology professor at Carleton, had to accompany him twice a week to campus when he taught his class; he had to wear an electronic ankle bracelet (which cost him $2,000 a month); he had a curfew and had to live under house arrest when not at work. He was forbidden to own a cellphone.

In June 2011, Justice Robert Maranger ordered that Diab be extradited to France. Maranger did have misgivings; in his words the case against Diab was “convoluted”, “very confusing”, “with conclusions that [were] suspect”. Appeals to the extradition decision were denied, and Diab was extradited to France in November 2014.

For the last three years, Diab has been in solitary confinement awaiting trial in a maximum-security prison on the outskirts of Paris. Though some French magistrates were convinced Diab was the wrong suspect, the prosecutors seemed desperate to pin the crime on him.

The Role of B’nai Brith Canada

In 2009, at a hearing in connection with the extradition, Diab’s lawyer explained that Diab intended to return to teaching at Carleton University. According to media reports, the next day an Ottawa-based member of B’nai Brith called Carleton University to complain that Diab was still teaching there.

Later that day, Carleton fired Diab, who was three weeks into teaching an introductory sociology course at the University. Even before Carleton University came out with its statement, B’nai Brith Canada, commended the university for having done the “right thing” in not allowing Diab to teach. In their statement, B’nai Brith Canada said it was “deeply disturbed” by the news that the alleged bomber would be permitted to teach.

Frank Dimant, B’nai Brith Canada’s Executive Vice-President said that “the conditions of Diab’s bail do not even allow him to leave his home alone or to own a cellphone, but Carleton officials believe that it is fine for them to make him a member of their faculty? The last place in the world where this man belongs is in a university classroom, in front of impressionable students.” Dimant went on, “We find it deplorable that university officials believe that there is nothing wrong with employing Diab. The safety and security of the community as a whole, and of the Carleton University campus in particular, are of great concern to us….”

Dimant seemed to be most concerned about Diab’s effect on Jewish students. In an op-ed in the National Post Dimant wrote, “Were he [Diab] permitted to teach, he would be in regular, ongoing, daily contact with students, some of whom are Jewish and already feel the stigma of being marginalized on campus.”

Dimant’s key worry seemed to be that Diab would make anti-Jewish slurs against Jewish students – this despite the fact that Diab had never been accused of uttering a single anti-Semitic sentence.

B’nai Brith Canada describes itself a human rights organization which has “championed the cause of human rights in Canada since 1875.” Their YouTube site displays the motto: “Grassroots human rights advocacy and a lifeline for our community.” B’nai Brith’s League for Human Rights, “advocates for the human rights of all Canadians… and advocates for global human rights…”. If B’nai Brith and its League for Human Rights advocates for human rights, what about the rights of Hassan Diab? Isn’t a basic tenet of all human rights the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty? Clearly B’nai Brith is extremely selective about its human rights advocacy.

B’nai Brith might be quick to point out that they merely wanted the process to go ahead. In other words: let Diab be extradited to Paris for a trial– but all along the way there were signs of a weak and problematic case against him.

B’nai Brith seems to have missed the lessons of the Dreyfus affair a century ago.

Just as it was convenient for the French to scapegoat Dreyfus, it was convenient for B’nai Brith to scapegoat Diab. It was in B’nai Brith’s rush to judgement that they zeroed in on Diab, an Arab, to blame for the synagogue attack. Not only did B’nai Brith ignore the unconvincing legal case against Diab, but B’nai Brith hardly complained when he was put under house arrest and incarcerated without trial for years. And five days after Diab was freed of all charges in France, and a day after he returned home to Ottawa, B’nai Brith has said nothing publicly. B’nai Brith owes Dr Diab and the Canadian public an apology.

Two other Canadian Jewish organizations also joined in to condemn Diab, without any convincing evidence. The website of Simon Wiesenthal Center says it is “committed to countering racism and anti-Semitism and to promoting the principles of tolerance, social justice and Canadian democratic values through advocacy and education.”

But Wiesenthal’s external relations director, Dr. Shimon Samuels, demanded that Diab be sent to France for trial immediately, no questions, no concerns. Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center called Diab “an accused terrorist mass murderer as if he was charged with drunk driving”. CEO Avi Benlolo said, “One can only wonder how a reputable university like Carleton can place an alleged murderer at the head of a classroom – teaching and meeting with students. The university should take a cautionary approach until all charges against Diab are cleared.”

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) said that they applauded the decision to uphold the extradition order against Diab, “The fact that the main suspect in this hateful terrorist attack will indeed face the justice system gives hope to the survivors…” CIJA too claims to combat “…anti-Semitism and discrimination in all its forms and advocates for fundamental rights and freedoms, [and] social justice…”

At no time did B’nai Brith seek to make common cause with well-respected social justice and advocacy groups such as Amnesty International, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the BC Civil Liberties Association, the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, and the Canadian Labour Congress – to name a handful. They all demanded justice for Diab.

Two Jewish organizations supported Diab – the United Jewish People’s Order, and Independent Jewish Voices-Canada. IJV-Canada has supported Diab from the start and demanded he be freed. IJV-Canada joined with other Canadian advocacy groups to expose discredited evidence and the Canadian government’s complicity in allowing Diab’s extradition. The way the Canadian government handled the Diab case is eerily reminiscent of its bungling of cases involving other Arab-Canadians including Maher Arar, Omar Khadr, Muayyed Nureddin, Abdullah Almalki and Ahmad Elmaati. All were tortured in foreign countries as a result of faulty Canadian intelligence and the refusal by our governments of the day to intervene. All have since been issued with apologies and compensation. Will Hassan Diab be the next?

reprinted from IJVCanada.org where it was first published 17.01.18.

Your Rights At Work: The Boss Can Take Your Tips!

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New Year’s Eve may be a distant memory but it was arguably the best night for getting big tips – if you worked in a restaurant, bar or club.

But beware: more than 33% of respondents to a tipping study I did a few years ago report either that management takes a portion of their tips, or that the servers do not know if management takes money from the tips. This is because some managers typically collect the tips at the end of the night and then distribute them how they please.

Can they take ‘our’ money, is that legal, you ask?

The answer is “perfectly legal, yes.”

Across Canada there are only two provinces in which the Labour Standards Act recognizes that servers’ tips are the exclusive property of the servers. One province is Québec, the other is Newfoundland and Labrador. Elsewhere, across the country—and here in Nova Scotia — bar and restaurant owners or managers can do what they like with the tips.

  • 59% of Halifax bar and restaurant workers in the tipping study said that they collected all their tips.
  • 16% reported that management collected and divided the tips.
  • 17% noted they were not sure what happened to all the tip money, but servers thought it was likely that their manager took a cut.
  • 6% of respondents admitted they weren’t allowed to keep the tips at all.

When asked, 67% of the respondents admitted it would be great to change Labour Standards to the way it is in Québec or Newfoundland and Labrador. In other words, tips should be the property of the server. 17% of respondents said there was no need to change the law.

Of course none of this speaks to the tip-out to the front and the back of the house staff. The tip-out is for staff who don’t usually receive tips directly from the customers. The servers often pay a percentage of their tips to the host or hostess, the buss-people, and the kitchen staff.

However, many restaurants and bars in Halifax in fact charge servers just to work there! Here’s how: every shift, servers must pay 3-5% of their total food and beverage sales to management. On $1000 sales in food and beverage, the server pays from $30 – $50 to “the house”—whether or not they made tips on all the sales that shift.

Dine’n’Dash Fund

Then there is the ‘dine and dash’ fund. Some restaurants collect .50-$1.00 from servers each shift. That money is meant to cover customers who leave without paying their bill. Or the fund is used to cover breakage or theft of glassware or cutlery. Imagine how that adds up –if a server works 5 shifts a week, 40 weeks a year—management can take $100 a year off each server’s pay. And if there are 10 servers—it works out to at least $1,000 plus a year that management is able to steal from its workers.

Is this against the law? In NS, yes and no!

If the employer charges a server when a customer leaves without paying, the employer has to be able to show that it was the server’s fault the customer did not pay. Only then is the boss entitled to charge the server. However the is seldom enforced: most restaurant owners or managers simply dock the server whose customers did not pay. Or they charge every server 50 cents or a dollar per shift – which is nothing but a cash grab by the boss. It is a blanket penalty on all servers even though there is no proof any server was guilty of allowing customers to dine and dash.

As for charging for breakage, the NS Labour Standards Act suggests the manager obtain a written authorization or a “clear agreement between the employer and employee” when they start the job about deductions from employees’ pay.

Of course almost no restaurant or bar bosses clarify these ‘rules’ with their staff.

An ironic twist is that NS Labour Standards states that any deductions an employer does take from an employee’s gross pay must not take the wages below the hourly minimum wage!

And finally a note to restaurant patrons. It does not matter if you leave a cash tip or one on your debit or credit card. The same things happen. If the boss takes part of the tip, he will take part of the tip whether left in cash on the table or on a card. If the server has to pay 3-5% of sales each night for the “privilege” of working there, that’s how the boss collects his tip.

If you want to unite with others to campaign for better rights at work, contact me at workwonks@gmail.com

The slap that was heard around the world…

tamimiTamimi parents with 16 yr old daughter Ahed (Sept. 2017 photo from Ha’aretz).  

Last night I watched a crime series on Netflix which was made in Finland. In one episode, the 17-yr-old daughter of the starring detective is thrown in jail. She is charged with murdering a man she barely knows. We see her, in her small hospital- like room with a barred window and narrow plank bed, pacing her cell. Then she hammers on the cell door; in tears she cries for the guard to allow her in the corrider just to “stretch my legs.” There is no response from the guard.

Today, I think about Ahed Tamimi, the 16-yr old Palestinian girl from Nabi Saleh on the West Bank who was recently dragged from her bed and her family in the dead of night, handcuffed and thrown in jail in by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF). She was charged by an Israeli Army military prosecutor with five counts of assaulting security forces and for throwing stones.  

In fact, Ahed slapped the soldier who had hit her after she verbally protested his troop’s midnight invasion of her family’s front yard. Minutes before, an Israeli solider had fired a rubber bullet into the head of her 15-year-old brother Mohammad, which left him in a coma. The IDF had also just lobbed tear gas canisters to break windows in the Tamimi family home. The Tamimis are a well-respected family in Nabi Saleh which have for decades resisted Israel’s occupation.

Two years ago, Ahed bit a soldier who was attacking her 12-yr-old brother, and since that time the IDF has done just about everything to scare and threaten her and her family.   Her father, Bassem, has been tortured when he served 3 years in prison without being convicted of anything; he has undergone a dozen arrests. In 2012, Amnesty International declared him a prisoner of conscience.  Ahed’s older brothers have also been arrested many times and served time in Israeli jails. At least four of her cousins have been arrested by the Israelis; her cousin, Mustafa, was killed in 2011 by an Israeli soldier who fired a high velocity tear gas canister at his head from a meter away.  Ahed’s mother, Nariman, has been arrested and imprisoned five times;  in mid-December she was arrested alongside Ahed and her aunt.  Nariman has been charged with  assaulting a soldier, obstructing a soldier in carrying out his duties, and two counts of incitement to violence and disturbing the “public order.”

Nabi Saleh is a West Bank village of barely 600 residents who have resisted the confiscation of their land by Israeli settlers. More important – the Palestinians have had non-violent demonstrations every week for more than six years because the settlers from Halamish, an illegal Jewish settlement, have also commandeered their freshwater spring. Any demonstration by Palestinians under Israeli occupation amounts to “political incitement” and is contrary to Israeli Military Order 101, which also criminalizes protests, assemblies, waving Palestinian flags and distributing political materials.

Add firing of live ammunition, rubber and plastic bullets, invading Palestinians’ homes and taking them over to use as IDF ‘bases’ inside the village, plus nightly arrests of children and parents alike, and we see why Ahed dared to slap the Israeli soldier that night.

I think back to the Nordic Noir who-dunnit on Netflix. The teen’s detective father figures out who actually murdered the man and why. The final scene sees the girl running out of the prison gates – free—to reunite with her waiting parents.

Not so for Ahed. Not only have she, her mother and aunt been jailed, but Israel’s Education Minister Naftali Bennett called for Ahed to “spend the rest of her days in prison.” The Minister of Culture, Miri Regev, called the girl’s slap “damaging to the honor of the military and the state of Israel.” Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said “whoever goes wild during the day, will be arrested at night” adding, “everyone involved, not only the girl but also her parents and those around them will not escape from what they deserve”.

Ben Caspit, a journalist for Ma’ariv, the biggest selling Israeli newspaper wrote in the paper, “in the case of the girls, we should exact a price at some other opportunity, in the dark, without witnesses and cameras.” Does that sound like rape to you? It does to me*. Ahed’s slap is the slap that was heard around the world. Now it’s time for people of conscience – including Canadian Jews– to protest the occupation and demand Ahed and her family’s release.

  • In the interest of fair reporting, columnist Caspit now says his comments were mis-translated.  He says that “in the dark” etc was meant as a compliment to the IDF in that they arrested 16 yr old Ahed without fanfare, late at night without media presence. That’s his story.

Fun Game for the Holidays– will you be paid or not next week?

And remember — If you want to unite with others to campaign for better rights at work, contact me at workwonks@gmail.com

snakes

If you want to unite with others to campaign for better rights at work, contact me at workwonks@gmail.com

 

Have a holly, jolly Xmas – but if you expect to be paid for the holidays, the Grinch may have something to say about it.grinch3

Myth: Boxing Day is a statutory holiday in Nova Scotia.

Reality: No. Boxing Day is a ‘retail closing day’ – if you get the day off, your employer has no obligation to pay you. And, if you work on Boxing Day you are only entitled to your regular wages.

Myth: Everyone gets paid for the holidays of Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

Reality 1: To get paid for these holidays you have to have done two things: a) You need to be ‘entitled to receive pay’ – in other words worked for pay — for 15 days out of the 30 days preceding the holiday and b) you have to have worked your regular shift the day before and the day after the holiday to qualify for holiday pay.

If you don’t have these two ‘qualifiers’ you get the day off, if your employer is closed, but without pay.

Reality 2: You are not covered by these rules if you are paid on commission only, or you work in car sales, or real estate, or you are an employee on a fishing boat, or you work in the manufacturing or refining processes of the petrochemical industry (unless there is a union), or you work in private domestic service, you might get the day off but usually it’s without pay. If you have to work, it could be for regular wages.

Myth: I worked 15 out of the last 30 days leading up to Christmas Day and New Year’s Day – I’m a part-time worker so I’ll get both days off with pay!

Reality 1: Not so fast! If you worked part-time, your hours worked over the past 30 days are averaged – if the average pay is (let’s say) 4 hours a day, that’s what you’ll get paid for Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Reality 2: Not so fast! You need to have worked your last scheduled day before the holiday and your next scheduled day after the holiday to qualify to be paid.

Myth: I work in a restaurant and it closes from Dec. 20 to Jan. 2 – I guess I won’t be paid for Christmas Day or New Year’s Day.

Reality: You are owed pay if you worked and were paid for 15 of the 30 days preceding either holiday. The problem is that from Nov. 20 to Dec. 20 you need to have worked for at least 15 days. And you had to have worked your regular shift before the shut down on Dec. 20, and the next regular shift after it re-opens on Jan. 2.

Myth: I am working New Year’s Day, since I work at a bar and it’s open. I should get time and a half, right?

Reality: You get more — if you are entitled to be paid for the holiday in the first place (see above). You get your regular pay for your shift on New Year’s Day plus time and a half. For example, if you work 8 hours on New Year’s Day, you get paid for 20 hours.

All the examples are based on employees who are covered by NS Labour Standards because they are not in a union. If you are in a union, your collective agreement likely has much better holiday coverage for you. Many unionized workers get Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Boxing Day off with pay. Check your collective agreement or ask your shop steward!!

 

Back story: Liane Tessier’s Case

This is the leaflet I wrote and handed out at yesterday’s Media Conference at the NS Human Rights Commission == 

Back Story: Liane Tessier and the Halifax Regional Fire Service

This is the story of a fire service which is corrupt, a city hall which cares little and a human rights commission which went along with both of them—for many years.

This is a story about the Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency Services (HRFES) which for the last nearly thirty years has turned a blind eye, if not encouraged, sexual harassment, racism and physical threats against employees who dared to speak up.

This is the story of an ongoing campaign against women—one of whom – Liane Tessier — has just won her case at the NS Human Rights Commission. Tessier, who served as a volunteer captain of her Halifax firehall endured insults, threats and degrading treatment by male firefighters and by fire service management and by a counsellor hired as an EAP officer by HRM from 2005 to 2008. In 2008, Tessier was forced out of her job. She filed a complaint of sexual harassment with the NS Human Rights Commission. The Commission refused to deal with her complaint and dismissed it. It was only after Tessier took the Commission to the NS Supreme Court in 2012, that the judge overturned the Commission’s decision and forced the NS Human Rights Commission to re-examine her case.

This is a story which follows the public apology given to Halifax’s Black Firefighters who faced discrimination for 16 years –before it was addressed.

This is a story which explains that weeks before a public board of enquiry into Tessier’s complaint in October 2017, Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) came to a settlement with Tessier. The settlement included a financial award, policy changes and a public apology, from the Fire Service to Tessier and for the systemic discrimination that it perpetrated on her and other women.

What will not come out in the Chief’s apology:

FACT: Years ago, one female professional firefighter was thrown down the stairs by her colleagues.

FACT: One male firefighter who waged a sexist campaign against Liane Tessier is now doing the same to another woman – and the male firefighter has been rewarded with a career position.

FACT: One female firefighter, who dared speak out against racism in the fire service, was physically threatened by male colleagues.

FACT: HRM’s new fire chief, and two senior women from Human Resources at HRM, heard about these cases in a meeting and never took down any details or names of Tessier’s tormentors. This made it abundantly clear that neither the Chief, nor his bosses in HRM plan to do anything about the harassers – the majority of whom continue to work in the Fire Service.

To find out more information about

Liane Tessier’s case including

  • The names of perpetrators —still in the Fire Service
  • the incident about the employer-hired EAP counsellor who passed on rumours spread by fire officials and attempted to elicit confidential information from Tessier’s therapist.
  • specific incidents involving the ‘old boys club’ at the fire service
  • and more
  • See Tessier’s blog https://lianetessier.wordpress.com

To speak with Liane, call 902 802 1320

Tessier1As you can see  the media is crowding around Tessier for interviews,  while the Fire Chief and the Counsel for the NS Human Rights Commission (centre right) seem to be ignored.