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OFL launches “Gig work is important work” campaign

OFL supports gig workers demanding rights and protections in anticipated new labour legislation. Photo: OFL

The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) launched its “Gig work is important work” campaign with a protest at Queen’s Park on October 7th, deemed the “World Day for Decent Work.”

“Gig workers played an essential role keeping our neighbours safe and keeping the restaurant industry afloat during the pandemic, yet they are denied basic rights at work available to all other employees,” OFL’s website says.  “Now the Ontario and Federal governments are undertaking reviews of the workplace protections they should provide for gig workers.”

Last summer, Ontario’s Labour Minister Monte McNaughton appointed the Workforce Recovery and Advisory Committee to review and make recommendations on the future of work. The province’s eventual goals are to propose labour and employment law reforms and to “advance our world-class employment and training programs.”

“The notion of the workplace is redefined as more people work from home and other remote locations. As we enter the COVID-19 recovery phase, there is an opportunity to adapt to these changes, capitalize on the positive impacts and lead economic recovery through workforce development and new approaches to employment policy,” its website reads.

OFL and many gig workers suspect that the Ontario Workforce Recovery Advisory Committee has been created to introduce the idea that workers in the gig economy should expect a different level of protection under the province’s labour laws than has been traditional.

Gig workers played an essential role keeping our neighbourhoods safe and keeping the restaurant industry afloat during the pandemic, yet they are denied basic rights at work available to all other employees.

OFL

The OFL October 7th message to Labour Minister Monte McNaughton reads:

“As the Ontario Legislature resumes, the Ontario Workforce Recovery Advisory Committee – a committee without any representation from workers – is preparing to release a report and recommendations on the future of work for gig workers. With the threat of carve-outs for app-based gig workers looming, we must come together to demand Full and Equal Rights for Gig Workers now.

“On October 7, the World Day for Decent Work, app-based delivery workers are taking action to demand #MakeGigWorkDecentWork. Show your support by telling Minister Monte McNaughton not to carve out a separate employment status for gig workers. A worker is a worker.

“This is an issue for all workers: If Ontario legislates lower employment standards for today’s gig workers, Ontario employers will soon try to gig-ify every job possible.”

“Gig workers played an essential role keeping our neighbours safe and keeping the restaurant industry afloat during the pandemic, yet they are denied basic rights at work available to all other employees. Now the Ontario and Federal governments are undertaking reviews of the workplace protections they should provide for gig workers.”

Proposed Gig workers Bill of Rights

The OFL is asking supporters to sign the Gig Workers’ Bill of Rights, online here.

This is a Bill of Rights created by gig workers endorsed by Gig Workers United (CUPW), Uber Drivers United (UFCW), and the Ontario Federation of Labour to outline what minimum rights our governments must guarantee to ensure fairness and non-discriminatory treatment for gig workers.

  • A worker is a worker; Full employment rights with no carve-outs from minimum wage, sick leave, vacation pay and other minimum employment standards.
  • Payment for all hours of work: Paid time from when workers sign in until they sign out of the app with a clear and concise breakdown of how pay is calculated.
  • Compensation for necessary work related expenses to ensure gig workers’ real wages are not reduced below the minimum wage
  • Full and equal access to regulated benefits programs like Employment Insurance (EI), Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and injury compensation (WSIB).
  • Data transparency: access to all data collected and how the algorithm affects workers, including any forms of discipline.
  • Make all work count: gig work must count towards Permanent Residency applications.
  • Put onus on employers to prove that workers are not employees, instead of workers proving that they are not independent contractors. Enshrine the predictable and purposive ABC test for employment status.
  • Recognize gig workers’ right to form a union, with the union they choose, to have a collective voice at work.
  • Workers must have the right to negotiate for livable wages and benefits with their employer. Real, worker-led sectoral bargaining to enable meaningful collective bargaining to raise industry standards
  • An end to arbitrary deactivations and fair compensation for glitches: Just cause protection against deactivation, access to a clear and free process and enforcement mechanisms for minimum standards. Compensation for technical issues on the platform’s end.