This year was an exciting one for the labour movement, especially in Canada. From workplace wellness, to social movements, to the promise to repeal anti-union bills – 2015 was a year many won’t forget. As the year comes to a close, we thought we would take a look at some of the most talked about labour moments of the year.
1. Mental Health Comes To The Forefront
Mental health issues in the workplace cost the Canadian economy over $50 billion every year, and unfortunately there is still stigma that surrounds discussing the issue at work. But this year there were some huge steps taken to tackle the issue, including the #MakeItMandatory campaign started by Teamsters 362 and continued by Teamsters Canada. Newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised to invest more than $3 billion in mental health and home care – a great first step to support mental health in Canada.
2. Promise to Repeal Anti-Union Bills
This year saw the commitment to repeal two bills that were not only anti-union, but also violated Canadian citizens basic rights – Bill C-525 and Bill C-377. Trudeau was greeted with a large applause at a Canadian Labour Congress gathering this year when he said he would ‘fulfil the Liberal promise to repeal Bills C-377 and C-525 — the former Conservative government’s anti-union legislation.’
3. Spotlight On Workplace Discrimination
This year the spotlight was put on the fact that both globally and in Canada , there is still a long way to go when it comes to workplace discrimination. The World Economic Forum released a Global Gender Gap report that found that it will take another 118 years, or until 2133, until the global pay gap is closed. In Canada it estimated that ‘the average male earns the equivalent of $40,000 US, while women earn $32,916.’ A recent study conducted by international human resources consulting firm Randstad, found that a significant percentage of Canadians said they had been discriminated against because of gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs and age. The gender pay gap is still significant in Canada, that a United Nations report on our country cited it as a major concern.
4. Young People Involved in Labour
One of the most exciting events that we saw in labour this year was young people and their involvement in the labour movement. The spotlight has been shining especially bright on this issue since popular millennial news outlets such as Gawker, Salon and Vice have been unionizing. A recent Gallup Poll showed that the approval of unions jumped to 58 per cent this year, an increase of 5 per cent from last year and 10 per cent since 2008. Of all age groups surveyed – millennials, aged 18 to 34, were more pro union than any other group. As young people move into positions of power and leadership, it will be exciting to see how the labour movement grows of the next few years.