Sep 14, 2012

Changes to EI ‘make workers more vulnerable’: CAW

Union says new EI rules will increase precariousness of jobs

The Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW) says the federal government’s recent changes to employment insurance (EI) eligibility requirements will undermine collective bargaining power across the country.

In an address to 160 community activists at the Local 222 union hall meeting in Oshawa, Ont. on Sept. 12, the union discussed the government’s omnibus budget bill, specifically changes to federal EI rules, which include forcing laid-off workers to seek re-employment, even if the new job is in a different industry or pays less.

"The new rules will place pressure on the unemployed to seek and accept employment that doesn't meet their needs," said Cammie Peirce, national staff representative for the CAW, in a press release. "Forcing workers to accept the first available job is not a good labour market policy. Precarious work flourishes in this environment. We want workers to find good jobs that match their skill set."

The changes could also result in laid-off workers taking a 10 to 30 per cent pay cut upon returning to work, or taking a job that involves a long commute, added Angella MacEwan, senior economist with the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC).

Many participants in the event vowed to express their concerns directly to their MPs and MPPs and participate in an upcoming campaign led by the CLC.