This Week in Labour Rights 2018–05–20

By Scott Douglas Jacobsen

“Responding to the overnight arrest of human rights and labour lawyer, Haytham Mohamdeen, Amnesty International’s North Africa Campaigns Director, Najia Bounaim, said:

“Given the ongoing clampdown on dissent that has continued unabated since the presidential election, we are deeply concerned by Haytham Mohamdeen’s arrest from his home early this morning. Haytham has defended hundreds of workers who have been persecuted for forming independent unions and agitating for better work conditions. He has been persecuted by the Egyptian authorities for his human rights work, including at the El-Nadeem Centre many times.

“The Egyptian authorities are known for using arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance to punish human rights lawyers and members of the opposition. As such there is a real possibility he is being ill-treated in detention by the authorities right now. We call on the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Haytham Mohamdeen and to provide information about his whereabouts and wellbeing.”


“Dozens of auto sector workers protested at Queen’s Park Sunday against historic changes to Ontario’s personal emergency leave they claim unfairly punishes them.

The rally took place in the shadow of the province’s legislature that’s responsible for rolling out the exemptions for auto workers.

“We don’t want special treatment, we want the exact same thing that everyone in Ontario gets,” said rally organizer William Murray.”


“The delivery company Hermes faces a legal battle with a group of its own drivers today, in the latest case promising to have major ramifications on labour rights in the growing gig economy.

The move follows similar recent hearings on how companies, including the ride-hailing firm Uber, engage gig economy workers, so-called because employees are paid in return for the “gigs” they perform.

The new action due to open at an employment tribunal in Leeds today has been brought by eight couriers at Hermes, which delivers packages for retailers such as Next, Asos, John Lewis, Topshop and River Island.

The drivers claim they are being denied basic workers’ rights by being forced to declare as self-employed, meaning they are not entitled to holiday pay or to be paid the legal minimum hourly rate under the national living wage.”


“Airbnb has entered into a ground-breaking agreement with the national Transport Workers’ Union to promote fair rates of pay and labour standards in the on-demand economy.

Airbnb’s head of public policy for ANZ, Brent Thomas, told Fairfax Media that as a 21st century company it had a “responsibility to serve and strengthen the community and make sure technology was a force for good”. It has 4.8 million users and decided it would partner with package and food delivery companies that did not exploit their workers.

“With wages flat and the cost of living high, we want to empower working families by helping them earn extra income and promote good, well-paying jobs,” Mr Thomas said.”


Q: After 10 years of service in a supervisory position, I was recently terminated by my employer without any explanation. I have received only positive feedback and yet they replaced me soon after I was let go.

Admittedly the job was stressful and over the last few months I was developing an increasingly troublesome tremor in my left hand. I never missed work and could still do the typing I needed to do in my supervisory position. As it got worse, I started being assessed for Parkinson’s disease. Before the diagnosis came back, I was let go.

Fortunately, with the loss of stress the tremor has subsided and it looks like there are no serious long-term issues. Given that I don’t actually have a disability, do I still have a human rights claim?

A: You do. If it can be shown on a balance of probabilities that you were let go because the employer believed that you were going to become a disability issue, that is a violation of the Ontario Human Rights Code, whether you have a disability or not. Punishing an employee in any way for even a perceived disability issue constitutes a violation of the code.

You have the right to bring a claim before the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal. Separate and apart from any wage loss you may have suffered, you will be awarded general damages for violation of your right to be free from discrimination. Predicting how much would be awarded in any particular circumstances is extremely difficult, but the range appears to be from $5,000 to $100,000 or more. Most awards are in the $10,000 to $30,000 range.”


“It’s unfortunate that Kevin Rebeck, president of the Manitoba Federation of Labour, has to resort to personal attacks when trying to protect the union empire he works for. Unfortunately, that’s the kind of tactics union leaders like Rebeck often use when rational arguments and sensibility fail them.

It’s an ugly part of the union brand.

Like most union leaders, Rebeck doesn’t like the Pallister government’s recent decision to eliminate forced union dues through project labour agreements. Forced union dues on large government projects like Manitoba Hydro jobs and the Red River Floodway expansion became a hot button issue under the former NDP government. Non-union employees who worked on projects with project labour agreements were forced to pay dues to unions even though they were not members of a union. It was a fundamental attack on workers’ basics rights — labour rights many unions are not interested in protecting or respecting unless it involves the promotion of unionism.

Many opposed this trampling of workers’ rights, including yours truly who wrote extensively about it at the time.”


(Updated September 28, 2016)

Scott Douglas Jacobsen founded In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. He authored/co-authored some e-books, free or low-cost. If you want to contact Scott:, Scott.Jacobsen@TrustedClothes.Com, Scott@ConatusNews.Com,, Scott@Karmik.Ca.

He is a Moral Courage Webmaster and Outreach Specialist (Fall, 2016) at the UCI Interdisciplinary Center for the Scientific Study of Ethics and Morality (Ethics Center), Interview Columnist for Conatus News, Writer and Executive Administrator for Trusted Clothes, Interview Columnist for Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN), Councillor for the Athabasca University Student Union, Member of the Learning Analytics Research Group, writer for The Voice Magazine, Your Political Party of BC, ProBC, Marijuana Party of Canada, Fresh Start Recovery Centre, Harvest House Ministries, and Little Footprints Big Steps International Development Organization, Editor and Proofreader for Alfred Yi Zhang Photography, Community Journalist/Blogger for Gordon Neighbourhood House, Member-at-Large, Member of the Outreach Committee, the Finance & Fundraising Committee, and the Special Projects & Political Advocacy Committee, and Writer for Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Member of the Lifespan Cognition Psychology Lab and IMAGe Psychology Lab, Collaborator with Dr. Farhad Dastur in creation of the CriticalThinkingWiki, Board Member, and Foundation Volunteer Committee Member for the Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation, and Independent Landscaper.

He was a Francisco Ayala Scholar at the UCI Ethics Center, Member of the Psychometric Society Graduate Student Committee, Special Advisor and Writer for ECOSOC at NWMUN, Writer for TransplantFirstAcademy and ProActive Path, Member of AT-CURA Psychology Lab, Contributor for a student policy review, worked with Manahel Thabet on numerous initiatives, Student Member of the Ad–Hoc Executive Compensation Review Committee for the Athabasca University Student Union, Volunteer and Writer for British Columbia Psychological Association, Community Member of the KPU Choir (even performed with them alongside the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra), Delegate at Harvard World MUN, NWMUN, UBC MUN, and Long Beach Intercollegiate MUN, and Writer and Member of the Communications Committee for The PIPE UP Network.

He published in American Enterprise Institute, Annaborgia, Conatus News, Earth Skin & Eden, Fresh Start Recovery Centre, Gordon Neighbourhood House, Huffington Post, In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, Jolly Dragons, Kwantlen Polytechnic University Psychology Department, La Petite Mort, Learning Analytics Research Group, Lifespan Cognition Psychology Lab, Lost in Samara, Marijuana Party of Canada, MomMandy, Noesis: The Journal of the Mega Society, Piece of Mind, Production Mode, Synapse, TeenFinancial, The Peak, The Ubyssey, The Voice Magazine, Transformative Dialogues, Treasure Box Kids, Trusted Clothes.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. Jacobsen supports science and human rights.