Clear language is coming to health and safety in the Northwest Territories through a pilot project to make Workers' Compensation Board forms and manuals easier to understand. The project came about after the WCB looked at the CLC's manual on clear language and design, Making it Clear: Clear Language for Union Communications.
The need for easier to read documents is especially critical because of the huge demand for workers in the diamond, oil and gas resource boom in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. As well, there is a government and band councils' requirement that a certain percentage of the workforce be aboriginal.
The Northwest Territories Literacy Council was approached to facilitate the project. The Northern Territories Federation of Labour (NTFL) organized a representative focus group to critique the finished product, which covers issues such as the right to refuse and how to file Workers' Compensation reports.
The Workers' Handbook to Workers' Compensation will have positive ramifications for the aboriginal population, with its 19 different dialects in 32 communities. The handbook's clear language will make it easier to adapt it for translation.
Steve Petersen, Northern Territories Federation of Labour
"We believe in setting workers free, and we have found the key, through union literacy." That was the refrain of the song developed by participants of the week-long Union-based Literacy course recently offered at the Alberta Federation of Labour/CLC Fall School.
The course, held in Jasper in mid-November, drew participants from the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), the International Association of Technicians and Stage Employees (IATSE), the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), the United Steel Workers of America (USWA), and the Non-Academic Staff Association (NASA) from Edmonton.
'' I came into the course thinking of literacy as a noun, but now I think of it as a verb. "
Participants spent an awesome week sharing personal experiences and insights as the power of literacy and the tremendous possibilities for unions were revealed. As one participant said: "I came into the course thinking of literacy as a noun, but now I think of it as a verb."
The course covered ail the basics needed ta develop a vision for literacy within an organization. Specific program models were highlighted, such as the Hospital Employees Union (HEU)'s program in British Columbia.
The Union-based Literacy course will be offered at the CLC Pacific Region Winter School, Harrison Hot Springs, BC, February 4 to 9, 2001.
Karen Kennedy, CUPW, Edmonton