THE 'REAL' LIFE OF A MILLWRIGHT
"In construction, millwright work can involve installation, maintenance, retrofit, and removal of conveyor systems and most machines found in factories. Millwrights also work in power generating plants assembling or disassembling electrical turbines & generators. Much of the precision work in nuclear plants is also done by millwrights.
"Millwright skills range from interpreting drawings and performing layout, to rigging, assembling and machining parts until they are in perfect working order. It is not unusual for a crew of millwrights to be involved in heavy physical work in the morning and fine precision work in the afternoon.
"Since millwrights work mostly with metal, brute strength is often required when moving materials. However, millwrights also possess the precision skills required to assemble machines whose specifications require tolerances in fractions of millimeters.
"When performing fine work, millwrights often have to work close to machines. Since most of these machines are large and heavy, the potential for serious injury when something goes wrong is great. Millwrights often work with a partner because of the size and weight of the materials. Miscommunication between partners can sometimes lead to accidents.
"The nature of their work requires millwrights to use a large number of personal tools. They require one set of tools for heavy work and a different set for precision work."
quoted from: "Getting the Job Done Together Safely", a study conducted by the Construction Safety Association of Ontario, and the Millwright Labour-Management Health and Safety Committee (Millwright District Council of Ontario and the Association of Millwright Contractors of Ontario)
TRAINING WE POSSESS
8000 hour apprenticeship includes formal training in:
In addition, millwrights attend numerous trades/skills upgrading courses once passing the Certificate of Qualification (journeyman's) exam at the completion of apprenticeship.
34% of our members have post secondary education; 59% have secondary school diploma only.
HEALTH AND SAFETY CONCERNS
all members undergo extensive training to know how to work safely with these conditions:
It is important to note that lost time injuries have been reduced by 75% in the last five years.
Type of injuries which do occur to our tradesmen:
Parts of Body:
Types of Accidents:
6.7% of our membership are disabled persons.
UNEMPLOYMENT AND THE NATURE OF THE CONSTRUCTION SECTOR
Jobs are assigned out of the hiring hall on the basis of a waiting list: the longer you have been waiting for a job, the closer you are to the top when contractors call the hall for millwrights. When the job is completed, you are laid off and go to the bottom of the list, waiting for another call.
Jobs can be any length, from 15 years, to one day, depending on the nature of the project; an average length is on the order of a couple of weeks. Naturally, those who are on the long term jobs are not going on and off the list during that time, so the average job length which you can expect to be assigned from the list is usually quite short.
Jobs are based on getting a specific job done: when the line is in, or the machine runs smoothly, you pack your tools and go home, usually given only an hour's notice. The approximate time you spend waiting to get back to the top of the list for your next job will be anywhere from a week to several months, depending on how busy the contractors are.
The new Employment Insurance rules in Canada require an employment history equivalent to 35 hours per week for the 26 weeks prior to applying for benefits. Virtually no construction worker has steady work for that kind of time period: you may have three weeks in which you work 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, then five weeks of unemployment, then a week in which you get one 10-hour day, another 2 weeks wait, another one-day job, and so on. Therefore, most of our unemployed members are not eligible to receive much in the way of Employment Insurance benefits, and many take a low wage temporary job outside the trade. The alternative is to live off their savings and hope the phone rings soon. It is even hard to use the off-period beneficially by enrolling in upgrading courses at a college, for instance, because at any time you might be called to a job and have to drop out, losing your tuition fee; or worse, you might be at school and miss the call for the job.
Finally, for a complete view of the hiring hall system, a brief look at it from an internal point of view might be of interest. The actual "hall" is where the monitoring of labour demand and supply occurs. Usually the top man in the office is a business manager or business agent, and his job is hectic and stressful. In fact, his duties so often keep him busy on the road that he is rarely in the office. He must keep track of contractors and potential employment opportunities across any number of large and small, transient construction sites. It is also up to him to resolve labour disputes and ensure contracts are adhered to; and the hiring hall is also the central source for apprenticeship and training of the workforce to maintain its competitiveness. But with hard-working business agents, the hiring hall systems run smoothly and fairly, keeping the skilled workers available to contractors when they need them. It's a complex system, isn't it?
SOME MEMBERSHIP STATISTICS (2000)
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