TORONTO, Nov. 8, 2012 /CNW/ - Toronto retail workers are one step closer
to winning back their statutory holidays after councillors passed a
motion recommending the City exclude eight of nine existing holidays
from new shopping rules at a vote held today.
After a lengthy and passionate debate this morning that involved over 30
speakers, including young workers and new immigrants working in the
retail sector, Toronto's Economic Development Committee voted to
support a recommendation by the City's Holiday Shopping Sub-Committee
that would allow local retailers to open their doors only on the
Victoria Day holiday, from 10am to 6pm.
CAW Local 414 President Christine Connor said the decision improves on
an initial proposal issued to City Council in May 2010 to eliminate all
nine stat holidays for city retail workers. The union is hoping Council
opts to wipe the slate clean in a final vote scheduled at the end of
"Eliminating stat holidays should never have been raised in the first
place," Connor said. "If retail businesses want to improve
competitiveness they shouldn't be doing that on the backs of this
City's most vulnerable workers."
Connor said statutory holidays provide the only guaranteed time off the
job for retail workers, many of whom face constant fluctuations in
shift scheduled and other precarious working conditions.
"This is time that's best spent with friends and family," Connor said.
"Ratcheting down stat holidays effectively ratchets down the standard
of living for these workers. We simply can't accept that."
Connor acknowledged the important consultative work done by the
three-member Holiday Shopping Sub-Committee, who ran a series of town
hall meetings and engaged the public through an online survey on this
Results of the public consultation revealed that a majority of
Torontonians do not support a move to increase shopping on designated
Subsequent to the passing of the City of Toronto Act in 2006, statutory
holiday laws now fall under the City's Municipal Code (Chapter 510) - a
temporary by-law that largely follows the province's Retail Business
In 2010, the City undertook an effort to establish a long-term policy
dictating the rules for holiday shopping for local retailers. The
original proposal was to eliminate all 9 statutory holidays and was
billed as a move to improve the competitiveness of local businesses.
Connor said many retail workers earn minimum wage, or just marginally
higher. Retail workplaces are comprised of a disproportionate number of
women, new immigrants and young workers.
The CAW is calling on the Economic Development Committee to maintain all
nine statutory holidays. The union is also willing to issue a joint
call to the Province of Ontario, along with municipal leaders and the
business community, requesting a full review and modernization of
current statutory holiday exemption rules, with an eye to improving the
standard of living for retail workers and a fairer, more competitive
CAW Local 414 represents over 12,000 workers across the province of
Ontario, as well as over 6,000 retail workers in the City of Toronto.
SOURCE: Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW)
For further information:
Kellie Scanlan, Local 414 Communications (905) 409-5007