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Pro-business policies have shortchanged workers: Thomas

We the North
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The public policies put forward by business leaders to increase “competitiveness” and “productivity” over the last generation have not paid off for workers, the president of OPSEU says.

“The ‘productivity agenda’ that business leaders are pushing today is no different than it has been for the last 40 years,” Thomas said Monday. “Since the 1970s, Canadians have been told that if we were more productive, if we were more competitive, then we would be richly rewarded with more jobs, better jobs, and better-paid jobs.

“All of these measures have failed, and failed dismally. We don’t have better jobs, or better-paid jobs. Instead, we’ve entered the age of ‘precarious work.’”

Thomas made the remarks in a speech to the annual Conference Board of Canada Industrial Relations Roundtable September 14. The OPSEU president zeroed in on free trade, corporate tax cuts, and privatization as just a few of the pro-business policies that have failed Canadians.

Wages have not kept pace with productivity since the late 1970s, he noted.

“Based on his or her productivity, the average Canadian worker should be making nearly 15 per cent an hour more,” Thomas said, citing recent research. “That’s about $8,000 a year more.”

For the full text of Thomas’s remarks, click here.