Cold days mean no work days for some

Bitter cold temperatures, snowy madness and chilly winds make me grateful for the warm indoor career path I am headed toward. I always complain about how I hate being inside because it is so depressing to be cut off from natural sunlight, but then I remember I live in Canada and working outside would be even more depressing.

My boyfriend, Brandon, is an ironworker out of local 721 in Toronto and this time last year he was working sky rise along Lake Ontario – no thank you.

We all know how horrible last year’s winter was and living in Erie, we know having lake effect makes everything worse. For him, some days the wind-chill would get so bad the temperature would feel like it was minus 40 degrees Celsius, also minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit, while being 60 stories up.

Now, having cold and miserable days at work obviously would not be enjoyable, but trying to be safe and warm all at once is a difficult task. He would have to bundle up with three to four layers of clothes each day and still try and carry all his tools while having his harness safely secured.

Sadly, ironworkers and any trade outdoors for that matter are limited to what they can do during days like those. If the worksite is fully covered in ice and extremely slippery to walk on, the job site has to be closed and on average, they will only receive two hours’ worth of pay for that day.

These men could have climbed out of bed at 4 a.m. to get dressed, eat and drive to work at 6 a.m. only to be told to go back home because there is nothing they can do safely. If those days keep happening, those men and women keep losing out on a day’s pay and eventually, it will start to not be worth the gas to even drive in anymore.

Many ironworkers I know would rather take a layoff, wait out the weather and try again on a different jobsite because employment insurance (E.I.) is giving them a better salary than actually working. But, that E.I. runs out and bills still need to be paid.

With an office job, I know I will have a steady weekly income no matter what the weather is like because I am stuck indoors at a desk – assuming I don’t get fired for other reasons. The unfortunate reality is, being in a trade has more financial benefits than any job I have ever had, but I am not betting on the weather lottery every morning for half the year.

Now when I see these men and women walking along the top of a building during the cold bitter winters, I feel like an idiot for complaining about being cold walking to my toasty classroom or my car.

 

BECKY HILKER

[email protected]