Carpenters Union says criticism of OCOT based on rhetoric and mistruths

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Ottawa Construction Report staff writer

The head of the Ontario’s carpenters union is answering recent criticism of the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT) with some criticism of his own.

Tony Iannuzzi, executive secretary treasurer of the Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario (CDCO), says in a news release that federal employment minister Jason Kenney has no business interfering in provincial politics on matters that affect skilled trades.

“He is clearly playing politics in an attempt to legitimize some of the anti-College rhetoric coming from his provincial Conservative counterparts,” said Iannuzzi, who added that Kenney should put his own house in order with the badly abused Temporary Foreign Worker Program before offering unsolicited opinions on the College of Trades.

Kenney was quoted in the Toronto Sun in April as saying that the college of trades will kill jobs if it grants compulsory status to the carpentry trade. Iannuzzi referred to an expose in the Toronto Sun on Dec. 4, 2011 that claimed that there are as many as 100,000 illegal workers in the construction industry just in the GTA.

“Maybe if he had done a better job when he was the immigration minister we wouldn’t be facing this problem now.”

Kenney is also under fire for abuses under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program as more employees speak out about losing their jobs to less costly workers who have been brought in to work in Canada through the program.

Iannuzzi also took issue with recent statements made by the Ontario Skilled Trades Coalition and the Labourers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA). Representatives of LiUNA say they have recently joined the coalition because of enforcement action against some of their members in Windsor for laying underground pipe, known as conduit, through which electrical wires will be fed. They claim that this is work they have been doing for 50 years and which is supported by precedent as outlined in several decisions of the Ontario Labour Relations Board.

Iannuzzi said that this is a deliberate attempt to mislead the public as the tickets in question were not issued for that. He said the tickets were issued because LIUNA workers were making electrical connections, something which should be done by licensed and properly trained electricians.

He also took issue with the recent statement by an Ontario Skilled Trades Coalition representative that houses are not collapsing due to poor workmanship, citing the example of a Toronto home that partially collapsed in April while under renovation.

“Their assertion about there being other agencies to protect the public is just one other of the many myths that opponents of the college like to perpetuate,” said Iannuzzi. “We fully support the College of Trades and what they’re doing to protect the interests of the public.”

“We understand that there are some jurisdictional and scope of practice issues to be worked out, but for the first time there is a process in place to deal with things like journeyperson to apprentice ratios and whether a trade should be deemed compulsory or not,” he said. “That process is now driven by industry instead of an arbitrary decision by the government and we support that process.”

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