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Claims of Ontario trades college process "hijacked" dismissed by adjudicator

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Though some say the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT) has been hijacked and it will lead to a Quebec-style labour movement, one member of the Roster of Adjudicators is sticking by the process.

“It was fair, open, not driven by an agenda,” said George McMenemy, who was the labour representative on Group 1-A, floor covering installers and cement concrete finisher; cement mason during OCOT’s first journeyperson to apprentice ratio review.

“If it was, it was certainly a very secret agenda, none of us were aware of it (among) the three on our panel.”

OCOT recently released the results of its first ratio review process, which changed the ratios of two groups while keeping the same 1:1 ratio for the other two.

Stakeholders are invited to send a written submission to the college and then make an oral presentation to the review panel.

For this first review, the college received very few submissions; there were only nine listed on the OCOT website.

“Everybody was made aware of the process and if you decide to participate great and if you don’t, that’s your choice. But you can’t after the fact if you decide not to participate, complain,” said McMenemy, a business representative with DC 46, Glaziers Local 1795.

OCOT will represent 157 skilled trades in the construction, industrial, motive power and service sectors. Among its responsibilities, it is mandated to review journeyperson to apprentice ratios every four years.

There have been arguments against the college that it will encourage a Quebec-style labour movement where workers have to be unionized.

“I don’t see how this college is going to bring legislative change to the province and everybody has to be union,” said McMenemy, a glazier.

He pointed to the trade board for glass, which is composed of two union and two non-union members.

“Just from those four people there, I’m confident we’re going on the right road because those four people are excellent choices,” he said, adding that the college is a work in progress and that the Appointments Council selected a good cross section of trade representatives.

“I think the college has the best people of the people that applied and I think that goes across whether you’re union or not union,” he said.

“The cream of the industry, whether you’re union or non-union, will rise to the top and make the industry our industry, not the government’s industry.”

McMenemy is looking forward to January when he can become an OCOT member.

“I want my trade acknowledged as a professional trade.”

OCOT is targeting to begin accepting membership in early 2013.

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