TorontoWith the introduction of regressive employment standards legislation that includes a 60-hour workweek, workers in Ontario will soon have more in common with low-wage, right-to-work, southern U.S. states than progressive European countries and other Canadian provinces, says Sid Ryan the Ontario president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).
While the Tory government has backed off proposals to average the workweek over three weeks and retained overtime pay after 44 hours of work, the push to a 60-hour workweek is spiraling workers rights to the time of Dickens. And a labour campaign opposing the overhaul will continue.
Working people 60-hours a week doesnt create more new jobs. It doesnt get people legitimately off the welfare rolls and into real, productive jobs. It will also hurt workers health, and compromise quality family time. The Tories tweak the family values chord, but its just lip service. Workers working longer hours will take away from quality family time, says Ryan.
With over a million workplaces in Ontario, enforcement of protections will be non-existent. Over the past five years, the government has cut the Ministry of Labour budget by 50 per cent and employment standards officers by 30 per cent.
So how serious can this minister be about enforcement of protections when his own ministry has no teeth. Higher fines for first offenders and jail time for repeat offenders sound good, but unless there are vigilant inspections and the staff to do them, there will be no enforcement. This is just hot air. The Tories were slammed this week by the auditor, who rapped their knuckles for failing to recover $90 million worth of fines from repeat environmental polluters.
The reality is that workers in non-union workplaces will be pressured by bad employers to work up to 60-hours a week. They are vulnerable and will sign the needed consent because their jobs will be on the line if they dont co-operate, says Ryan.
The one positive in this legislation is that working parents in Ontario will be entitled to 50 weeks of paid maternity leave. A change that the Tories reluctantly made despite bringing this province in line with the federal standard, adds Ryan.
For more information please contact:
Sid Ryan, President CUPE Ontario
Stella Yeadon, CUPE Communications