Ford's attack on public sector workers' compensation includes university and college workers

Ford's attack on public sector workers' compensation includes university and college workers
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The Ford government has introduced legislation to cap increases in total compensation at an average (benefits and wages) of 1% per year for all public sector employees, including university and college workers. The legislation will affect all collective agreements on expiry and last three years. Current bargaining will continue, but while the bill has not passed yet, it’s current language says it will apply retroactively to June 5, 2019.

Government attack on workers’ rights will deny fair wages and benefits to contract faculty and already underpaid academic staff | OCUFA

Ontario faculty are deeply concerned by the Ford government’s attempt to cap public sector compensation increases at one per cent per year. This legislation represents an attack on the right to free and fair collective bargaining, a threat to pay equity and benefits for contract faculty and other marginalized workers, and an erosion of the foundations of Ontario’s important public services.

Following previous legislation that reduced the minimum wage and took away basic employment rights from Ontario workers, including paid sick days and equal pay for equal work, the Ford government is now attempting to deny public sector employees their Constitutional right to collectively negotiate their salaries and benefits. Ontario’s faculty and academic librarians firmly believe in the right to free and fair collective bargaining. It is through this process that equity is fostered, ensuring that good jobs and fair pay are provided to traditionally under-compensated groups, including women-identified, racialized, and contract faculty.

“Doug Ford has made it clear that he believes Ontario workers should have lower wages and fewer rights,” said Gyllian Phillips, President of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations. “We couldn’t disagree more. Encouraging more poorly paid precarious work is a step in the wrong direction. Ontario universities should be leaders when it comes to providing good, secure jobs.”

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Unifor vows to oppose Conservative attack on Ontario public sector workers | Unifor

In face of attack on workers’ rights, Unifor vows to mobilize and grow resistance to Conservative cuts.

“The largest threat to the future of Ontario’s public services is Ford’s Conservative Government, not workers advocating for better and safer working conditions,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.

“For overworked, underpaid workers in long term care homes, for paramedics, teachers, hospital workers and every dedicated public servant who keeps us safe and healthy, this Act is a disastrous and offensive slap in the face,” Dias continued.

It would force a one percent wage cap across the public sector in Ontario, including unionized and non-unionized workers, for any currently expired or expiring collective agreements over the next three years. This applies to the public service, as well as hospitals, Ornge, some long-term care homes, boards, commissions, agencies, school boards, universities and colleges, and children’s aid societies.

“This government has shown its disdain for public services and public education. First they attacked the jobs of workers in the sector, and have now turned their attention to this unilateral attack on wages,” continued Dias.

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Ford Government’s attack on workers’ rights a continuation of their assault on the people of Ontario | CUPE

Legislation tabled today at Queen’s Park that would violate public employees’ right to engage in free collective bargaining is a continuation of the Ford Government’s assault on the people of Ontario, said the Leader of the Ontario Division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE Ontario).

Fred Hahn made the comments today after the Government tabled so-called ‘wage restraint’ legislation that will affect union and non-union employees this afternoon.

“Over and over again, we see the Ford Government continuing its assault on the people of Ontario. We saw it when they cancelled a scheduled increase to the minimum wage and when they stalled increases to social assistance. We saw it when they passed a budget that has resulted in devastating cutbacks to schools, universities, health care, social service agencies, libraries and a host of other services,” said Hahn.

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Legislation restricting compensation continues the government’s attack on workers | Ontario Federation of Labour

The government of Ontario has tabled legislation to limit salary increases to a rate well below inflation. This is another example of the Conservative’s continuing attack on the workers of Ontario. Never in Ontario’s history has this type of legislation been introduced.

“The announcement of a cap on compensation increases is the government letting workers take the fall for its revenue problems once again. This government has cancelled cap and trade, given massive tax breaks to the rich, is spending billions cancelling contracts like the Beer Store, and has the audacity to cry poor,” said Ontario Federation of Labour President Chris Buckley. “One of the first things this government did was cancel the $15 minimum wage for low-wage workers. Workers are the backbone of this province but our government continues to hurt them to provide billions in tax cuts to big business and the wealthy.”

Collective bargaining is a democratic right. This government is imposing an outcome on workers before collective bargaining has even begun.

“This bill takes the continuing attack on workers to a new level – the public service, leaving public service salary increases well below the rate of inflation, which was 2.4 percent in 2018. The PCs are trying to dismantle our public services piece by piece,” said Buckley. “There is no fiscal crisis. The government is chronically underfunding the programs and services families rely on, making plans for further privatization and contracting out, and now, with this Bill, setting the stage to undermine decent working conditions in the public sector.”

One million workers will be affected by this legislation.

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