This past Saturday, I made my debut as a videographer. Well, I ran the video camera at least. ;-) I was at the Ontario NDP leadership convention with Ish Theilheimer of StraightGoods.ca, running the camera while he conducted interviews.
It was an interesting experience. I saw a lot of familiar faces at the convention; labour activists and NDP members have a definite membership overlap. Just like going to ETFO AGM, provincial meetings of occasional teacher Locals, or my local Labour Council, attending the NDP convention helped give me a different perspective on my work. It's easy to become myopic and think all the issues we face as occasional teachers are specific to our workplace, but our issues are really universal. Attending big events lets you know you're not just a lone voice in the wilderness, and reassures you that you've got a whole lot of people with similar values standing behind you.
One of the people we interviewed was a cab driver who'd filed a complaint under the Employment Standards Act because he was being paid less than minimum wage. He won his complaint, but he never worked for that company again. His story really resonated with me, because occasional teachers who try to uphold their contract rights will never again teach in the school where they complained. The complete lack of accountability for employers, and the lack of protection and recourse for employees who are victims of this kind of passive, invisible reprisal are issues that need to be addressed.
"It’s time that part-time, casual, cultural, and migrant workers are recognized as the real workers that they are!" - Andrea Horwath
Which brings me back to the NDP convention. In her final speech to delegates prior to the commencement of voting to choose the new leader, Andrea Horwath said "It’s time that part-time, casual, cultural, and migrant workers are recognized as the real workers that they are!" I'm glad somebody is putting out this message. Part-time work is what keeps many people afloat, and we need to address the fact that part-time workers are often paid less than their full-time peers, have lesser benefits or none at all, worse working conditions, and receive much less respect from their employers. This divide between full-time and part-time workers is not acceptable.