Toronto – The Premier of Ontario needs to clear up the confusion around how she views human rights, especially the right of workers to receive equal pay for equal work regardless of gender, the President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) says.
At a news conference today, Warren (Smokey) Thomas said a recent arbitration award at the LCBO that stripped certain collective agreement provisions to offset the cost of equal pay for equal work was “a blatant violation of the most basic principle of human rights.
“The whole point of human rights is that they are rights,” he said. “You don’t have to pay for them.”
Thomas said the recent arbitration award came after the LCBO put forward a list of concessions designed to cover the cost of providing equal pay to workers in the female-dominated casual Customer Service Representative classification.
“Equal pay is supposed to mean raising the bar for those not receiving fair wages, not lowering the standards and working conditions of their co-workers,” Thomas said. “This idea of horse-trading for rights seems to be what the LCBO thinks Premier Wynne is looking for. So we need to know: is LCBO management wrong, or did the Premier or her ministers direct them to find a way to make LCBO workers pay to have a human right recognized?
“Right now my members are confused about where the Premier actually stands.”
Thomas said LCBO workers are angry about the concessions and are looking at their options. “These workers will be in a legal strike position before long. If the LCBO pushes ahead with implementing this, we’ll be looking at every option open to us, up to and including withdrawing our work.”
OPSEU represents 7,500 workers at the Crown agency. Their collective agreement expires March 31, 2017.
“We’re just not accepting that in 2017 workers should have to trade away anything to get something as fundamental as paying women the same as men for doing the same job.”
For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931