Activists stand up for statutory holidays in York Region


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Newmarket, Ont. – December 18, 2017 – Activists from UFCW Locals 175 and 1006A and the UFCW Canada National Office were out in full force at a York Region Council meeting on December 14 to stand up for public holidays for retail workers in the region.

Last month, York Regional Council passed a by-law that eliminates public holidays for retail workers in every community in the region, which includes the municipalities of Markham, Vaughan, Newmarket, and Richmond Hill, among others. Despite a request to conduct public consultations on the by-law, the decision to strip away retail workers’ statutory holidays – with Christmas Day being the only exception – was pushed through council in one session, with no input from workers who will be negatively impacted by the decision.

At the December 14 meeting, UFCW Canada Local 175 member Conrad McDonald – who works at a Food Basics in Thornhill, Ontario – spoke about the importance of stat holidays for spending time with his family, and asked why council failed to consult with workers and the public before passing its holiday by-law. He joined other activists in attendance in calling on York Region Council to conduct a full public consultation on the heavy-handed and undemocratic by-law.

Unfortunately, the plea of retail workers to reconsider the by-law was turned down by a majority of York Region politicians, even though thousands of citizens signed a petition demanding public consultations on the holiday by-law. This means that retail workers in the region will have to be available to work 364 days a year, unless York Region Council chooses to repeal the by-law.

“Retails workers deserve better than working every day of the year except Christmas,” says Paul Meinema, the National President of UFCW Canada. “Every worker deserves some time off to spend with their families and loved ones, which is why our union is calling on York Region Council to immediately repeal this mean-spirited and unnecessary by-law,” the UFCW leader adds.