Unions vow to fight for $15 minimum
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.
Unifor Local 103 members march outside Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli’s office, Friday.