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OPSEU ramps up call for “equal pay for equal work” law

We the North
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Toronto – Equal pay for equal work must become law in Ontario, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union says.

In a submission today to the government’s Changing Workplaces Review, the 130,000-member union repeated its call for changes to the Employment Standards Act (ESA). OPSEU wants the law changed to bar employers from paying part-time, temporary, and temp agency workers less than full-time workers doing the same job.  

“In Ontario, it is illegal to discriminate against any worker on the basis of race, sex, or any of the other grounds in the Human Rights Code,” OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said today. “But if an employer classifies workers as part-timers or temps, that employer can pay those workers less than full-timers and basically treat them as second-class citizens.”

“This is discriminatory, and it’s wrong,” he said. “A simple change in legislation could improve the standard of living and the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of Ontarians.”

OPSEU’s interest in equal pay for equal work grows out of its experience with some major public employers, among them the Liquor Control Board of Ontario and all 24 of the province’s public community colleges. The LCBO maintains different wage tiers for workers who are full-time permanent, casual, or “fixed term” workers. In the colleges, wages for part-time support staff and faculty alike are lower – often dramatically so – compared to those of their full-time colleagues.

“We are working hard to improve wages and working conditions for fixed-term and casual workers at the LCBO, and we’re working just as hard to organize part-timers in the colleges,” Thomas said. “But no matter how successful we are, hundreds of thousands of Ontarians will still face discrimination on the job. That’s why we need to change the ESA.”

The Changing Workplaces Review is a broad review of both the ESA and the Ontario Labour Relations Act and is expected to deliver its final recommendations to government for changes to both laws in early 2017. OPSEU’s full response to the Review’s recent Interim Report is available here.

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas 613-329-1931