May Day is an international celebration of workers and their achievements for a more just society. Initiated in the 19th century when the working class struggled to achieve the eight-hour work day, the struggles of the working class continue to this day. In recognition of May Day 2017, SEIU-West would like to highlight the connection between May Day and Mental Health Week, which takes place May 1-7.
Our particular focus on Mental Health Week and May Day is domestic violence due to its influence on both mental health and workplace environments.
Experiencing abuse can lead to severe mental health problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, addictions, and anxiety to name a few. That’s why your SEIU-West Young Worker Committee (YWC) has been working hard to pass legislation in Saskatchewan to ensure job security for victims of domestic violence. Manitoba has already passed legislation to ensure job security, and Ontario is close behind. Our petition calls for all Saskatchewan employers to ensure that victims of domestic violence can access five to ten days of paid work leave and up to 17 weeks of unpaid leave if required – we were able to gather many supporters to sign this petition and fortunately, the New Democratic Party responded to our efforts.
Alongside PATHS (Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan), the CLC (Canadian Labour Congress) and the SFL (Saskatchewan Federation of Labour), SEIU-West met with NDP representatives to create a Bill that would involve job security for survivors of domestic violence. In March 2017, Bill 603 was introduced which included job security as well as the ability to break a lease agreement without penalty for survivors of domestic violence. However, we only saw the Saskatchewan Government pass the lease portion of the Bill. That’s why we now have Bill 604 – this Bill is focused entirely on work leave and we all need to work together to ensure it is passed.
With Saskatchewan’s reputation as having the highest rates of domestic violence amongst all provinces, it is vital that we take steps to protect those experiencing domestic violence. Victims of domestic violence should not be further victimized at work. People who want to escape domestic violence must have financial stability and a supportive work environment.
SEIU-West supports legislation that will ensure job protection for victims of domestic violence and the efforts the YWC and many others in the labour movement have made demonstrates the power of workers joining together to ensure a more just society for everyone.
Sign the petition to ensure Bill 604 is passed – let’s achieve job security for victims of domestic violence today!