'Equal pay for equal work' finally a reality for LCBO retail workers
Publication DateMonday, February 13, 2017 - 2:00pm
Toronto – A historic arbitration award affirming the right to equal pay for equal work will boost the wages of thousands of casual workers at the LCBO, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) says.
The union, which represents more than 7,500 LCBO workers, filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario in 2013, arguing that the LCBO’s pay structure discriminated against retail workers in the female-dominated “casual” classification. Now, a February 10, 2017 arbitration award creates a single wage grid for both full-time and casual retail workers. The new grid will mean an average increase of 9.5 per cent for three-quarters of the 84 per cent of Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) classified as casual workers, along with an improved guarantee of hours of work and the creation of 200 new full-time jobs.
“This award corrects a historic wrong,” said Denise Davis, chair of OPSEU’s Liquor Board Employees Division. “The LCBO has discriminated against workers in its largest female-dominated job classification for decades, and now that is coming to an end. It is a huge step forward for these precarious workers and their families.”
But Davis said the union was “extremely disappointed” that the arbitrator’s award eliminated Sunday shift premiums for retail workers. “Unfortunately the LCBO used the need to fix discrimination as a chance to push for concessions,” she said. “Our bargaining team was firm in resisting this, and in the end the arbitrator gave the employer only some of what they asked for, while setting new limits on their agency store program.”
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas congratulated the union’s bargaining team on its work and called on Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne to bring in stronger employment standards legislation to make equal pay for equal work a reality in all Ontario workplaces.
“This is 2017 – equal pay for equal work should be the norm, not something that workers have to fight for,” he said. “In this case, however, these workers did fight, and I’m proud of the stand they took. While we have yet to achieve all that is fair, we’ve certainly moved the yardsticks.
“The reality is that employers have devised a number of ways to discriminate against part-time, temporary, precarious workers, whether they are female or male. The Premier’s ‘Changing Workplaces Review’ presents an opportunity to fix that, and working people everywhere are hoping she will.”
For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931