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Pay equity: Don’t complete that survey

Pay Equity Now: 30 years and still waiting
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OPSEU members who receive a link to a questionnaire from Ontario’s Pay Equity Commissioner should not complete it, OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says.

“I just found out today that the Commissioner, Emanuela Heyninck, has sent out a survey to many union locals and individual union members on the subject of pay equity,” he said. “Locals and members should not complete this survey. It is a clear attempt by the Commissioner to shut unions out of the pay equity process, and if unions are shut out of the pay equity process, pay equity in Ontario will be toast.”

The Pay Equity Act, which became law in 1988, is supposed to eliminate gender discrimination around wages in every Ontario workplace. But history has shown that pay equity only works in a unionized environment, Thomas said.

“Even the simplest pay equity plan is complicated, and it is simply not realistic to expect that individuals could enforce or maintain pay equity without a legal bargaining agent to do so,” he said. “To the extent that pay equity works in Ontario, it works because unions make it work.”

The survey is also biased in favour of employer concerns, said Patty Coates, Secretary-Treasurer of the Ontario Federation of Labour.

“It is important to keep in mind that many broader public service employers are lobbying very hard to shut down pay equity maintenance, particularly in female-dominated sectors like developmental services. These are sectors where many women have not yet achieved pay equity,” she said. “It is deeply concerning that the Commissioner is sending questionnaires to individual union members about pay equity when they have exclusive union representation.”