OTTAWA Yesterdays Supreme Court decision lets the government of Newfoundland and Labrador defer pay equity, leaving female health care workers without just pay and opening pay equity to abuse by governments in future, warns the Canadian Union of Public Employees.
The decision is a huge disappointment as it delays implementation of pay equity in Newfoundland and Labrador, said Paul Moist, CUPE national president.
The decision means that $24 million of retroactive payments will never be paid out, keeping womens health care wages in Newfoundland and Labrador at a permanently inequitable rate. The court seeks to place restrictions on other governments implementing such measures on the narrow grounds of serious financial crisis. But Moist asked who decides when a government is in extreme financial crisis.
Will other provincial governments use this decision to try to defer their pay equity responsibilities by claiming they dont have the money? asked Moist.
How easy will it be for a government to say we dont have the money to address pay equity? Moist asked. Is that a good enough excuse for not paying women workers what they should be paid? No way.
CUPE represents roughly 300,000 working women across Canada and has been at the forefront of fighting for pay equity for decades. The decision directly affects about 1,800 CUPE members, but it has implications for thousands more.
This is about our society agreeing in law that women, who earn three-quarters of what men do for the same or similar work, be paid fairly, Moist said.
Where does this leave us when it comes to pay equity rights? Moist asked. Our fear is that this could open the door to other abuses and could weaken protection for those whose rights are violated. This has frightening implications for all Canadians.
Workers who face discrimination are made more vulnerable by this ruling, he added.
Paul Moist, National President, cell (613) 558-2873
Claude Gnreux, National Secretary-Treasurer (porte-parole francophone), cell (613) 794-8395
David Robbins, CUPE Communications, cell (613) 878-1431