Labour and education in the news

Below are recent news stories on labour and education related issues.  Click the headline to be taken to the article. Some may require a subscription.

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November 30, 2020

School division staff asked to work at resource centre
Winnipeg Free Press
Manitoba Education is seeking back-up for its remote-learning hub from staff who work in the province’s 37 public school divisions.

Winnipeg School Division rings in remote learning drill
Winnpeg Free Press
A district-wide drill in the Winnipeg School Division next week won’t focus on fire, bus evacuation or lockdown safety measures — but rather, how-to learn remotely in a pandemic.

Winnipeg School Division code red rehearsal a test run for possible shift to remote learning
Manitoba's largest school division plans to have teachers walk thousands of students through an in-class exercise next week meant to simulate what it could be like if the entire school system is suddenly forced to learn remotely.

Manitoba K-12 education probed by auditor general
Winnipeg Free Press
The Office of the Auditor General is conducting a probe into the province's handling of K to-12 education during the pandemic.

Students disagree with reckless plan to tie post-secondary funding to performance indicators
On November 26, Minister of College and Universities, Ross Romano, announced plans to move forward with a performance-based funding plan that will tie 60 per cent of post-secondary funding to ten metrics determined by the Ford government. The Ontario Government refused to consult students and faculty about this plan. Students are concerned that it will lead to a further decrease in the quality of their education.

Faculty strike avoided at the University of Manitoba
The Charlatan
Students at the University of Manitoba (U of M) no longer need to worry about a potential disruption in their fall semester as the faculty and school finally reached an agreement to not strike.

Lakehead University’s Board of Governors announces plan to divest from fossil fuel holdings
Lakehead University
At its November 26, 2020 meeting, Lakehead University’s Board of Governors approved a motion that will see the institution divest from its fossil fuel holdings by the end of the University’s current Strategic Plan in 2023.

University of Windsor denounces fraternity after hateful messages in private chat group revealed
The University of Windsor is denouncing hateful online messages allegedly exchanged by members of the Delta Chi fraternity in a private chat group and is also suspending any opportunities for the fraternity to use university spaces.

City leans on Ottawa to balance budget
Winnipeg Free Press
Federal support, extended bus service cuts and millions of dollars of not-yet-realized savings are expected to help the city balance its pandemic-challenged budget.

Hourly wage boost a blessing
Winnipeg Free Press
Friday’s announcement of a $5 per hour wage top-up for front-line support workers couldn’t have come at a better time for Zahid Abbas, an asylum seeker working two part-time jobs to support himself, a daughter he’s raising alone in Winnipeg and his family back in Pakistan.

Manitoba offers temporary $5/hour pay bump to staff helping vulnerable people
Caregivers who provide direct or residential care to vulnerable Manitobans during the pandemic are being thanked with a pay bump.

Province, Ottawa temporarily adding $5 to front-line caregivers' hourly pay
Winnipeg Free Press
Front-line workers caring for vulnerable Manitobans will receive a temporary hourly wage increase of $5, courtesy of the federal and provincial governments.

Alberta frontline workers are losing out on more than $400 million in ‘hero pay’ because the UCP refuses to hold up its end on a cost-shared wage program
Alberta Federation of Labour
Unlike all other provinces, the Kenney government has spent only a tiny fraction of the money available to it through a federal cost-shared program to support essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to federal government documents obtained by the Alberta Federation of Labour.

Amazon, let workers unionize! Respect for workers’ rights is not a choice
Amnesty International
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on societies and economies around the world. But Amazon has boomed, cementing its position as the most used consumer-facing platform in the world. This rapid expansion, occurring during an unprecedented global health crisis, has exacerbated longstanding concerns about the US-based corporation’s approach to health and safety and its adversarial relationship with trade unions. As Amazon approaches its busiest time of the year between Amazon Prime Day, Black Friday and Christmas, Amnesty International has gathered information relating to these concerns from four countries where the company has major operations: France, Poland, the UK and USA.

November 27, 2020

Ontario to tie funding of universities and colleges to labour-market needs
Globe and Mail
The Ontario government is moving ahead with performance-based funding for postsecondary institutions but will delay its implementation for another two years as schools deal with the impacts of the pandemic.

Schools may switch to remote learning after holiday break
Winnipeg Free Press
Manitoba Education is leaning towards a temporary period of remote learning for K-12 students in early 2021, should COVID-19 case counts remain high in the coming weeks.

A plan to find, help MIA students
Winnipeg Free Press
An average 400 Grade 7-12 students in the North End have been reported "inactive" during the school year for the last decade.

Will shovel for grades
Forget the gymnasium — driveways, sidewalks and parking lots are becoming popular alternatives for phys-ed students keen to both workout and volunteer to shovel snow in their communities this season.

Students burnt out by pandemic learning push more universities toward longer winter breaks
When McMaster University student Elisa Do learned last week that her school would be delaying the start of classes in January following the winter break, she felt a wave of relief.

Students and NDP urge return of moratorium on student loans
Student groups and the federal NDP are urging the Liberal government to bring back the moratorium on Canada Student Loan payments.

Redeploying 600 laid-off City of Winnipeg employees can't happen overnight: municipal relations minister
Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman said Wednesday he hopes 600 laid-off city employees can be redeployed into temporary work with the province — but Manitoba's municipal relations minister says the mayor didn't inform her of his proposal.

Red Cross tapping laid-off workers to help in Winnipeg personal care homes
As more personal care homes call on the Canadian Red Cross for support, the organization says it's seeking people who've been laid off because of the pandemic to help meet the need.

'To me, it's dirty and underhanded': Striking Owens Corning Guelph workers met with 'scab bus'
Guelph Mercury Tribune
Workers at Owens Corning on York Road in Guelph started the first day of their strike Friday at noon, shutting down the machines they use to make fibreglass products, and walking off the line.

Black Friday: Amazon workers in Germany go on strike over working conditions
About 2,500 German employees of the American giant Amazon are on strike during the Black Friday sales to demand better working conditions.

November 26, 2020

UBC investigating allegations of widespread cheating in first-year math exam
CTV News
More than 100 cases of possible cheating are under investigation at the University of British Columbia, all linked to one Math 100 midterm exam.

Stress, anxiety, early retirement dominate teachers town hall topics
Winnipeg Free Press
More than half of the teachers who tuned into a recent town hall organized by the Manitoba Teachers’ Society reported having "seriously considered" retiring or switching professions because of COVID-19-related stresses at work.

Final-year education students should fill classroom needs: NDP leader
Winnipeg Free Press
The NDP wants the province to address a critical pandemic-related shortage of teachers by getting education students who've nearly completed their degrees into classrooms.

School shutdowns have put children up to eight months behind in reading, research indicates
Globe and Mail
The abrupt spring shutdown of in-class learning left young students up to eight months behind in reading, according to early research findings that suggest children could lose more ground without focused lessons this school year.

Iran: Halt the execution of Iranian academic Ahmadreza Djalali
Education International
Education International has again expressed its deepest concerns about the death sentence against Dr. Ahmadreza Djalali, an Iranian-Swedish medical doctor, lecturer and researcher in emergency medicine. According to Amnesty International, he has been transferred to solitary confinement in Evin prison and told by the authorities that his execution is imminent.

Mayor wants city workers facing layoff to be redeployed to province
Winnipeg Free Press
The City of Winnipeg may temporarily lay off hundreds of community services staff on Sunday, though it hopes a portion of them will be redeployed to the province's effort to battle COVID-19.

Province asks junior Crown attorneys, articling students to do contact tracing
The Manitoba government has asked junior Crown attorneys, justice support staff and articling students to agree to be redeployed to conduct contact tracing, CBC News has learned.

NDP asks for ruling on 'undemocratic' Pallister government legislation tactics
Winnipeg Free Press
The NDP is asking the speaker of the Manitoba legislature to rule on the status of nearly two dozen government bills that were introduced earlier this month but never distributed to MLAs or the general public.

Province not entirely practising what Roussin preaches on working from home, union says
Winnipeg Free Press
Calls from Manitoba's top doctor for bosses to let employees work from home if possible are falling on a lot of deaf ears among civil service managers.

Unions, families raise PPE concerns after COVID-19 outbreak at Brandon care home
Two unions that represent health-care workers at a Brandon, Man., personal care home say their members are not happy with how an outbreak there is being handled — concerns echoed by a family member of a resident at the home.

National child-care program could ‘pay for itself’ by getting parents back in the work force, report says
Globe and Mail
The federal Liberals will take a small step toward a plan to create a national daycare system, with sources telling The Canadian Press next week’s economic update will have money for a new federal child-care body.

Post pandemic economic recovery must include child care, says new study
Child care doesn’t cost, it pays. Over the past 10 years 200,000 new jobs were created in the child care sector. Add to that another 100,000 jobs in industries that support and supply the sector, and you understand how child care pays more than it costs.

Public service workers across India to strike tomorrow
Public Service International
A joint coalition of unions, including PSI affiliates, are calling on workers to mobilize on 26 November and established a set of demands including monthly cash transfers for poor households, free food rations, withdrawal of anti-farmer laws and anti-labour codes, an end to privatisation of public services and an end to the corporatization of public sector manufacturing facilities and service institutions like railways and ports

November 25, 2020

Strike action avoided
The Manitoban
The University of Manitoba Faculty Association (UMFA) voted Nov. 20 to ratify the deal reached on Nov. 15 as a result of mediation between UMFA and U of M administration. This ratification means there will be no strike action from UMFA over this labour dispute.

U of M students push for alternative pandemic grading process
Winnipeg Free Press
A forgiving grading system is the solution students at the University of Manitoba want to address the challenges of learning on a virtual campus this year.

U of O strikes anti-racism action committee
The president of the University of Ottawa is promising change with the formation of a new committee in response to a public clash between some faculty and students over academic freedom and the use of the N-word in class.

Students and Graduates Demand Emergency Pandemic Relief to Canada's Post-Secondary Education Sector
Post-secondary students and graduates across Canada continue to face the brunt of the pandemic as a result of being forgotten from emergency relief programs. The Canadian Federation of Students and Don't Forget Students have submitted a petition to the House of Commons sponsored by Member of Parliament for Victoria, Laurel Collins, calling for immediate action from the Federal Government to support post-secondary students and graduates left out of relief plans.

OCUFA 2020 Study: COVID-19 and the Impact on University Life and Education
Online Learning Has Negatively Impacted the Quality of University Education

China censors Canadian curriculums at international schools
Globe and Mail
They have torn pages out of textbooks and placed stickers over content that might offend Chinese officials. They have purged maps that did not show Taiwan as a province of China and urged their staff to show deference to the Communist Party. They have refused to hire teachers who wear hijabs or have links to Tibetan groups.

Cheeky campaign launched against PCs' pandemic response
Winnipeg Free Press
Not content to just boo from the sidelines, a group that doesn't like the plays called by the "coach" of "Team Manitoba" in this COVID battle has decided to play its own game.

Canada's progressive politicians need to pay attention to Erin O'Toole's pivot to unions
If Erin O'Toole was sincere when he surprised everyone last month by bemoaning the decline of unions, you'd think he'd publicly rebuke Premier Jason Kenney for his ongoing campaign to turn Alberta into a right-to-work state.

Women bear brunt of COVID-19 shutdowns
Winnipeg Free Press
WOMEN across the world know a silent truth: they’re bearing the brunt of the pandemic’s economic fallout.

Join the twitter campaign for a World of Work free from Violence and Harassment
Public Services International
On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, now more than ever, we need to boost our campaign for the ratification of ILO Convention 190 on Violence and Harassment in the World of Work. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how violence and harassment are systemic in the world of work, including gender-based violence.

November 24, 2020

Strike project a labour of love for Kelvin teacher, students
Winnipeg Free Press
A project in which Kelvin High School students made the Winnipeg General Strike come alive on its 100th anniversary has earned their teacher top marks.

Collective strength in precarious times – New issue of Academic Matters
The latest issue of Academic Matters explores how collective negotiation has helped to ensure that the principles of the university are upheld and that academic staff are treated and compensated fairly. In the shadow of COVID-19, it is through this process that faculty associations are working to protect their members so that they can effectively carry on teaching, research, and librarianship during the pandemic. Read the issue for free online.

Without investment, universities and colleges heading for a crisis
The Star
Universities and colleges employ hundreds of thousands of people, educate and train over two million students annually and drive research that improves the lives of all Canadians. In cities and communities across the country, they are regional economic drivers and social and cultural centres. Our world-class post-secondary education system is critical to our prosperity, underpins our democracy and finds solutions to key challenges, be it COVID or climate change.

Thousands sign petition pushing for all exams at Dawson College to be online
More than 2,000 people have signed an online petition demanding that students at Dawson College not be forced to do in-person exams at the end of term.

Enrolment up at Canadian universities, mostly because of part-timers
Globe and Mail
Despite fears that students would balk at courses held primarily online, enrolment at Canadian universities rose slightly in the fall term driven mainly by an increase in part-time students.

Medical examiner's staff in crisis
Winnipeg Free Press
As COVID-19 deaths soar, nurse investigators at Manitoba's medical examiner's office are warning that they face a "desperate need" for resources.

Alberta nurses reject government’s call to delay bargaining for new deal
Globe and Mail
Alberta’s nurses union says the province’s health delivery agency has rejected a call for a settlement similar to one reached with nurses in Saskatchewan that would have provided stability during the COVID-19 pandemic.

You're not replaceable: What Toy Story can teach us about surviving the gig economy
The first time I saw Toy Story, I was nine years old — and, like most viewers, completely changed and delighted. Not only was the movie novel in its shiny new use of computer animation, it also reaffirmed my (privately held) belief that toys were real and lived lives of their own when we weren't around. And most importantly, it delivered one of the greatest dialogue exchanges (between two animated characters) in cinematic history — one that applied even more the older I got and the more entrenched I found myself in the gig economy.

New ways to fight grocery corporations needed
The 12-week strike by Dominion grocery workers in Newfoundland showed that unions need new ways of fighting for lower-paid workers. An interview with Unifor's lead negotiator in the strike, Chris MacDonald.

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women: Governments must act on domestic violence
“We are witnessing a pandemic within a pandemic. Physical and social isolation, economic stress, and the overall uncertainty resulting from COVID-19 have created a perfect storm for the increased risk of domestic violence. What's worse, the lockdowns may make it harder for people experiencing violence to seek help.” — Larry Brown, NUPGE President

UNI Global Union: “Amazon is ignoring the law, spying on workers, and using every page of the U.S. union busting playbook”
Global Union
"It is not enough for Amazon to abuse its dominant market power and face antitrust charges by the EU, now they are exporting 19th century American union busting tactics to Europe," said Christy Hoffman General Secretary of UNI Global Union. "This is a company that is ignoring the law, spying on workers, and using every page of the U.S. union busting playbook to silence workers' voices. Enough is enough. Now more than ever we need a check on Amazon’s corporate power. It's time for Amazon to accept collective bargaining and the will of workers rather than see them as existential threat. For years people have been comparing big tech bosses to 19th century robber barons, and now by using the Pinkertons to do his dirty work, Bezos is making that connection even clearer.