Warehouse Workers Centre - Peel (WWC Peel) joins the ranks of our labour allies around the world to extend our support to Indian farmers in their bid to preserve their working practices, and their livelihood.
We stand in solidarity with the farmers in India and with their family members here in Peel, who have taken their message to the streets. Those family members living here feel a connection to the soil, to their home. It is a connection that can never be broken.
The three new bills were passed by Indian Government to become law in September. Since then, farmers have argued these new legislations will drive down their product prices with no safeguards to protect them against corporate takeovers and exploitation.
These laws will further overhaul food grain procurement and pricing rules by allowing private companies direct access to the vast agrarian sector. It has become clear from the protests that the Indian Government not only failed to consult with farmers while devising these laws; but also consistently refused to participate in any meaningful negotiation.
On Nov 26, 2020, tens of thousands of Indians from the states of Punjab and Haryana marched towards the national capital. Their government tried to stop them by blocking the main highways with metal barriers, and even attacked these peaceful protesters with batons, tear gas, and water cannons.
The response was a beautiful and unique show of solidarity, with protesters from different castes and religions setting aside their differences and continuing to march forward, undeterred. Soon they were joined by farmers from other states. Currently, there is a tense standoff between the protesters and the Indian government, with no clear end in sight.
We are seeing the retaliation against the neoliberal agenda of corporate elites worldwide, but nowhere is this more powerful than in India right now. The whole world is watching.
WWC Peel wants members of the community to know that our struggles are not exclusive to the Peel Region, or even to Canada. The ceaseless greed of corporate elites is a danger to democracy and workers' rights on a global scale, and we have to fight back constantly. The deregulation of markets have led to weakening labour protections for the working class, which has further contributed to wealth inequality worldwide.
Whether at home or abroad, we stand in solidarity with Indian farmers. Let us fight back against this corporate takeover attempt, designed to strip farmers of their livelihoods. This global anti-worker agenda must be dismantled.
At a November 9 conference, Dr Lawrence Loh, Medical Officer of Health for the Region of Peel, announced new COVID-19 restrictions and instructions in the Region. According to Dr Loh, 'congregate events' such as wedding receptions and gatherings in business establishments will not be allowed, effective Friday, November 13, 2020, through to at least January 7, 2021. Dr Loh further stressed the need to follow these directives in hopes of fewer people acquiring the virus, fewer people becoming ill, and fewer requiring hospitalizations. He also emphasized that the new restrictions are critical to helping reduce the spread of COVID-19.
This has been followed by Doug Ford's announcement that as of Nov 23, 2020, Peel Region will be one of two communities placed under a 28-day lockdown. But while non-essential businesses such as personal care services, casinos, gyms will be closed, facilities like schools, large retailers, and warehouses remain open, their workers remain at risk.
Over the last week, we have seen a lot of discussion online that scapegoats our region's South Asian communities, blaming the communities' gatherings for the rise in COVID cases. We are saddened by the racist conclusions drawn by many commentators, but not surprised. Brampton and Mississauga is home to many racialized, working-class, immigrant communities - communities who overwhelmingly work in industries deemed essential during this pandemic, including logistics, warehousing, e-commerce, and retail- a fact that seems to be conveniently forgotten when we talk about 'congregate settings.'
The percentage of positive cases in the Peel Region released by COVID-19 Scorecard Update tells a more clear story.
According to the Ontario COVID-19 Modelling consensus table, the substantial variation in the source of the outbreaks, 22% of the cases reported in Peel region can be traced to industrial settings, as compared to only 5% from events, ceremonies and religious services.
Peel Region is known for its warehouses. Nearly 43% of Peel's economy is in the warehousing and logistics sector, and $1.8 billion worth of goods pass through our region every single day.1
That number has only increased with COVID as people increase their online ordering. According to a recent poll, nearly half of all Canadians say they plan to do all of their holiday shopping online this year. Workers who are already strained will be stretched beyond their limits. While the pandemic has given some workers the ability to work from home, warehouse workers don't have that option. The pandemic has laid bare the reality that workers in warehousing and logistics are critical to our society.
So when we talk about implementing COVID measures to protect the health and safety for our communities in Peel, we need to ask: where are the protections for those essential workers in logistics, warehousing and e-commerce? What about tens of thousands of workers in warehouses throughout the region who cannot practice social distancing because they have employers who disregard health and safety in favour of production? What about the lack of regulations needed to protect workers, and a provincial Ford government that has failed to bring in proper measures such as paid sick days or guaranteed pandemic pay?
Cases are on the rise in the Peel region. We need to end the scapegoating of our communities and instead implement concrete solutions, ones that actually protect those workers who have become so essential to us all during this ongoing pandemic.
We at the Warehouse Workers Centre believe that the safety of workers is paramount, and is integral to the well-being of our province. We, the workers, are the backbone of society. Our working conditions and pay must reflect that.
Real structural changes need to be put in place immediately to ensure greater health and safety for warehouse workers and our communities at large. Workers rights = public health!
To get involved please contact:
Warehouse Workers Centre
224 Rutherford Rd South
Unit # 4, Brampton
Phone number: 289-464-1617
1. Goods Movement Planning in Peel: https://www.peelregion.ca/pw/transportation/goodsmovement/
The Warehouse Workers Centre is a space for workers to access resources, build community, and to organize for better working conditions.
Peel has one of the largest warehousing and logistics sectors in Canada. We demand that all warehouse workers have respect, safety, and a living wage.
The Warehouse Workers Centre offers a space for events, trainings, legal aid, and mobilization.
Through building strength in our community we will fight to create better jobs and working conditions in the warehouse sector.
Amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Ontario government announced the closure of all non-essential workplaces in the province. Many Ontarians are now working from home, limiting contact to their immediate family and maintaining physical distancing when in public.
For workers in the warehousing and logistics sector, this is not an option.
The pandemic has caused a spike in ecommerce. The warehousing and logistics sector has seen an increased workload, more hiring, and further degraded working conditions. Employers, some of whom are profiting massively from this crisis, are not doing enough to protect workers.
Workers desperately need paid sick leave and other work safety protections. Even more so during the COVID-19 crisis, workers need support and space to work collectively and address urgent problems.
We at the Warehouse Workers Centre understand that workers are facing uncertainty and they need support. Workers need to manage their health and peace of mind in these tough times.
We want the workers to know that they are not alone in this fight. If you have issues at work, we can help.
Last updated: April 17, 2020
The federal government has announced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).
This new, single, benefit provides financial relief to workers who have ceased work for reasons relating to COVID-19.
The CERB is a temporary income support for workers who have ceased working or who are earning less than $1000 per month due to COVID-19 and do not have access to paid leave.
It provides a monthly benefit of $2,000 for workers who have been out of work for 14 consecutive days in any four-week period for reasons relating to COVID-19 or have seen a loss or serious reduction in work related to COVID-19.
To get the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, you may not earn more than $1,000 for a period of at least 14 consecutive days within the initial four week period of your claim or $1000 in total for each subsequent claim. It is meant to address situations where workers, for reasons relating to COVID-19:
The CERB applies to wage earners, including contract workers and self-employed individuals regardless of their eligibility for Employment Insurance (EI).
To qualify for CERB benefits, applicants must (a) be a resident of Canada, (b) be 15 years or older, and (c) have had a total income of at least $5,000 (combined) in 2019 or in the 12 months immediately preceding the application, from any of the following sources:
To get the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, you may not earn more than $1,000 for a period of at least 14 consecutive days within the initial four week period of your claim or $1000 in total for each subsequent claim.
Is your employer refusing to grant you leave to care for your children or self-isolate despite public health agency guidelines? You may be faced with the difficult decision of having to continue working or voluntarily leave your employment.
Beware! If you leave your job, your record of employment will say, "voluntary termination of employment." Workers who leave their job voluntarily without their employer's authorization are not entitled to employment insurance benefits (regular or sickness) or to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).
The CERB will pay out $2,000 per four week period, to a maximum of 16 weeks. The same $2,000 amount will be paid to all recipients.
The CERB is a taxable benefit, but the Government has announced that tax recovery will be deferred. Further details are unavailable at this time.
The CERB will be paid every four weeks, and be available from March 15, 2020 until October 3, 2020.
Applications will go through the Canada Revenue Agency web site. Benefit claims will take 10 days to process.
The CERB covers the period of March 15 to October 3, 2020, and applies for a maximum of 16 weeks, in four-week increments. You will need to renew your application for benefits every four weeks.
If you have already applied for EI, you do not need to apply for this new benefit.
EI benefits paid to workers who apply on or after March 15 will mirror CERB payments for the first 16 weeks.
If a worker is not eligible for EI, the only option available to them is to apply directly to the CERB when applications open.
The application process began during the week of April 6, 2020. Applications will be processed within 10 days from when an application form is submitted. Applications can be back-dated to March 15, 2020.
At this point, the answer is no. You will continue to receive your EI benefits. However, if your EI benefits end before October 3, 2020, and if you meet the CERB eligibility criteria, and if you are still unable to return to work for reasons relating to COVID-19, you can apply to receive CERB benefits.
If you have enough EI insurable hours, you will still be able to access your normal EI benefits after the 16-week period covered by the CERB.
We are sharing the best available information we can find and updating it whenever possible, and without delay. Thus, while we are disseminating this information, please be aware that not everything we’re sharing here has been thoroughly vetted by the Warehouse Workers Centre, nor does it necessarily represent the Warehouse Workers Centre’s beliefs or positions.
Workers in the warehouse and logistics sector have the right to a fair wage, safe work and dignity on the job. Unfortunately, these rights are often violated. Be prepared to defend yourself and your coworkers by knowing your rights. In Ontario, your rights are protected under the:
We will explain these laws, how they apply to you, and how you can use them to create a better workplace.
If you would like to HOST a workshop please contact: info@WarehouseWorkers.va