Unions vow to fight for $15 min­i­mum

North Bay Nugget - - FRONT PAGE - PJ Wil­son

The provin­cial gov­ern­ment is at­tack­ing the most vul­ner­a­ble work­ers in the prov­ince, ac­cord­ing to Uni­for Lo­cal 103 pres­i­dent Andy Mitchell.

Mitchell and about a dozen other mem­bers of the union from North Bay and Sud­bury marched out­side Nipiss­ing MPP Vic Fedeli’s of­fice Fri­day over the noon hour, call­ing on the gov­ern­ment of Premier Doug Ford to re­in­state pro­vi­sions of Bill 148 to bet­ter serve On­tario work­ers.

“What we are telling them is ... we are go­ing to bar­gain for low-wage earn­ers” and fight to in­clude an in­creased min­i­mum wage, Mitchell said.

Last month, the provin­cial gov­ern­ment passed Bill 47, de­lay­ing an in­crease of the provin­cial min­i­mum wage to $15 an hour un­til at least 2020.

The min­i­mum wage had been in­creased to $14 an hour ef­fec­tive Jan. 1 this year, with a promised in­crease to $15 an hour in Jan­uary 2019.

Mitchell said the gov­ern­ment must be made aware that al­though it could de­lay the in­crease, the unions will con­tinue to bar­gain for it.

“This is what we are go­ing to be bar­gain­ing for,” Mitchell said.

Uni­for and other unions have been ral­ly­ing at of­fices of Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive MPPS and provin­cial cab­i­net mem­bers over the past month.

Fedeli was not avail­able to meet with Mitchell and other union mem­bers.

“What (the provin­cial gov­ern­ment is do­ing) is putting busi­ness ahead of min­i­mum wage work­ers,” Melissa Wood said.

“We are def­i­nitely op­posed to Bill 47 and the new re­stric­tions it places on work­ers, es­pe­cially min­i­mum wage work­ers without col­lec­tive agree­ments.”

And al­though the leg­is­la­tion has been passed, Wood said, “we still want to let them know we are dis­ap­pointed with it.”

Wood said the union has been try­ing to get in con­tact with gov­ern­ment min­is­ters and mem­bers, but “they’ve been brushing us off.”

She said the union has sent e-mails and mes­sages on Twit­ter to provin­cial min­is­ters, but has had no re­sponse.

“We are not very happy with the PC gov­ern­ment’s stance on be­ing open for busi­ness, when 2,500 jobs are leav­ing Oshawa” fol­low­ing the an­nounce­ment last week that GM is clos­ing its auto plant in that city.

Ford, she said, “has no idea what to do.”

And while the shut­down of the plant next year will di­rectly af­fect 2,500 em­ploy­ees, she said, there are 20,000 jobs in Oshawa that will be di­rectly af­fected by the clos­ing.

Jared Hunt, of the North Bay and Dis­trict Labour Coun­cil, noted that Statis­tics Canada data for job rates across Canada showed that there is “still year-over-year job growth in On­tario,” de­spite the in­crease in the min­i­mum wage.

“That is ev­i­dence, real data, that what hap­pens when peo­ple get more money in their pock­ets is that they spend it,” Hunt said.

He also noted the un­em­ploy­ment rate in On­tario is at a 40-year low.

“It makes Bill 47 look ridicu­lous,” Hunt said.

PJ Wil­son / the Nugget

Uni­for Lo­cal 103 mem­bers march out­side Nipiss­ing MPP Vic Fedeli’s of­fice, Fri­day.

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