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    • 29 APR 21
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    May Day 2021: Calling for Better Working Conditions

    May Day 2021: Calling for Better Working Conditions

    Colin Jones, FSA President

    This year as we contemplate the meaning of work and what it means to be a worker, I keep returning to the primary condition that distinguishes one person’s work from another during a pandemic: the ability to work remotely. BCIT, more than any other post-secondary institute in BC, has continued to offer a portion of its services in a face-to-face format. This means that some of us have been, with all its challenges, able to work from home and some have had to mask up and head to campus.

    What comforts me when I think about our members, as well as those from the BCGEU, who navigate the on-campus safety protocols is that – when needed – our members have access to sick leave. This wasn’t always true for all of our members. In our recent round of bargaining, we were finally able to achieve a pooled sick leave fund for our members that teach exclusively into Part-Time Studies. While we will continue to fight to grow that fund to equalize sick leave access across the membership, it helps me sleep a little better each night knowing that our members don’t have to choose between supporting their family and calling in sick.

    This is not true for workers across BC and Canada.

    We join the BC Federation of Labour (BCFED) in calling on the BC government to provide paid sick leave to every worker in BC – during the pandemic and beyond. 53% of BC workers get no paid sick leave at their jobs and we know that this disproportionately affects workers facing multiple systemic barriers. As the BCFED says: “nobody should have to choose between staying home when they’re sick and putting food on the table.”

    Paid sick leave, top of mind during a pandemic, is not the only struggle that we must fight for in Canada. We must continue to join the broader labour movement to work to end harassment and violence at work, address systemic racism in all workplaces, and join affiliates through the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) in their campaign for fair employment for contract academic staff (Part-Time Studies).

    On this May Day, I am grateful for the work of every FSA worker. It is your labour, along with your BCGEU colleagues, that enables BCIT to deliver high-quality and necessary learning opportunities for all our students. I am deeply appreciative of the work of the staff in the FSA office whose efforts every day bring us closer to excellent working conditions for all members – through representation, negotiation, and advocacy.

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