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SASKATOON, SK. - The Saskatchewan division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees said today that the provincial government should enact comprehensive pay equity legislation if it is serious about tackling the problem of low-paid work.

In his presentation to the Commission on Improving Work Opportunities for Saskatchewan Residents earlier today inSaskatoon, CUPE Saskatchewan President Tom Graham pointed out that Saskatchewan women working full-time made an average of $11,400 less than their male counterparts in 2002.

Graham also noted that workers at community-based organizations – group homes, child care centres, women’s shelters and vocational training centres – are among the lowest paid public sector workers, making an average of $8-$10 an hour less than government employees doing similar work.

With resource revenues swelling the provincial treasury, it is simply immoral to allow these inequities to persist,” he said. “The New Democratic Party promised pay equity legislation during the 1991 provincial election. It’s time they delivered.”

CUPE Saskatchewan told the commission that a broad-based approach is needed to effectively address the problems facing working people who are stuck in part-time, non-standard and other low-paid work arrangements.

Too many workers are patching together low-wage part-time jobs to make ends meet,” said Graham. “But many employers will create additional part-time jobs even when they have a large number of part-timers in their workplace who wish to access additional hours.” He said the provincial government should either develop a mechanism to allow senior part-time workers who want to increase their hours of work to do so, or implement a cap on the proportion of part-timers in workplaces of 10 or more employees.

With Aboriginal people in Saskatchewan facing an unemployment rate that is three times higher than the rate for non-Aboriginals, the provincial government also needs to increase its support for representative workforce initiatives, said Graham.

Additionally, CUPE Saskatchewan recommended an immediate increase in the minimum wage to the poverty line, the implementation of a universal public child care program, and improvements to income security programs.

In recent years, the provincial government has spent considerable time studying the issue of part-time work and solutions to create more full-time work,” said Graham. “We expect this commission to recommend concrete steps that could be taken to help part-time and low-wage workers. And we expect these recommendations will be implemented by the provincial government in a timely manner.”

CUPE represents 26,000 public sector workers in Saskatchewan who work at health care facilities, municipalities, school boards, universities, libraries and community-based organizations.

For more information, contact:

Tom Graham
(306) 229-8171