EMC job centre opens
London Community News
By Mallory Clarkson/London Community News/Twitter: @MalloryClarkson
Summer living isn't easy for 80 per cent of the former Electro-Motive Canada (EMC) employees who can now have some help looking for work.
Chris McFadden was one of around 75 union members who attended the official opening of an employment action centre located at the Canadian Auto Workers’ (CAW) union Local 27 branch on First Street Friday (June 22). He is also one of the approximately 400 of the total 500 former employees who haven’t found work yet.
With his job search expanding across the country, McFadden said he’s not at all hopeful of the future.
“Things are very bleak,” he said. “Coming down here yesterday was actually my first time and the faces that I did see were very bleak and you could tell they’ve been beaten on for a while.”
People he expected to do well after the plant lock out in January and subsequent closure a month later aren’t, McFadden said. He explained his former co-workers are finding $14-$15 an hour jobs (which in some cases is less than half of what they were making at EMC), where they are treated poorly by their employers.
“They don’t have benefits, they don’t have vacation time, they don’t have hope for their families,” he said.
McFadden said he didn’t necessarily show up to the employment action centre to find work. Rather, he wanted to make sure former workers were being taken care of.
“I want to see what they’ve set up here, what it is they can offer for us and hopefully see that it actually benefits our guys and that they can get back to work,” he said.
Bob Scott, EMC Action Centre co-ordinator, said the centre offers everything from workshops on subjects like resume building, second careers and apprenticeships, to training.
“Anything that will help members find something to move on with their life,” Scott said. Provided services are catered to what the needs of job seekers are. And right now, Scott said, that’s resume building.
“A lot of our membership have been out and working for the last 25 years, and now you’re trying to do a resume up and have no idea,” he said. "The markets have changed of how you find jobs, everything is online now, there’s no feedback on whether your resume is good or not.”
Along with job postings, the action centre also brings in employers from places like mining companies in Timmins to other businesses in Windsor. But, Scott Gilders said there aren’t many options in the London area for the former EMC workers.
“Everything we’re doing today is all going to be to leave the province. It’s straight across the board,” he said. “When you go to all of the schools, they’re telling you, you’re leaving the province.”
As for how he’s been doing since the plant closure, Gilders said he’s bleeding money, but he’s doing alright. He said he’s slowly looking for different jobs in different fields, but is concentrating on going back to school.
It’s not just finding work that has the former employees worried, but what could happen if they can’t. With new Employment Insurance (EI) legislation being incorporated into the federal budget, many are concerned about their welfare if they don’t have a job when their severance package ends, where they’ll be forced to go on social assistance.
“Whatever the changes are that will be done, it will definitely affect most of this workforce because a lot of us don’t even qualify for EI benefits until next year,” McFadden sighed. “Whatever the impact is, we’re going to feel it.”
Reforms to the EI system will require all recipients to accept jobs that are between 70-90 per cent of their previous salaries and are within an hour commute from their homes. There will also be new regulations about what constitutes work and what reasonable efforts to find work are.
Mark Bowman, who was at the plant for 24 years, said those changes will be horrible. He argued no one from the plant will qualify for EI because of the new reforms.
“I feel that as long as there’s going to be one job out there even at minimum wage, we’re not going to qualify for EI,” he said, calling the reforms unfair. “It’s basically an insurance we’re going to pay for and not be able to collect.”
The employment action centre is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.