Budget will hit low-wage women hard: OPSEU

TORONTO, March 25 /CNW/ - Plans by the McGuinty government to freeze public-sector wages in Ontario will hit women workers the most, including many who already work in low-paid jobs, the president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union says.

"The large majority of workers in the public sector are women, and scores of thousands of them work in service jobs at the low-end of the wage spectrum," Warren (Smokey) Thomas said today after Finance Minister Dwight Duncan unveiled his 2010-11 Ontario budget. "While we appreciate the minister's statement that 'public servants make a valuable contribution to the health and well-being of this province,' we are disappointed that the government would declare, without consultation, that thousands of these workers will see their incomes go down for the foreseeable future, or lose their jobs.

"It shows disrespect for their work and for their right to be treated fairly by their own government."

Today's budget announced that, while the government will not seek to re-open collective agreements, it will not budget for any future increases in overall wage costs that are paid, directly or indirectly, by the province.

"Many OPSEU members in children's aid societies and children's mental health agencies are already working days for free to keep their employers afloat and to keep providing the services their communities need," Thomas said. "It doesn't strike me as right for the Minister of Finance to decree that a $30,000-a-year worker in a group home for the developmentally disabled should take a pay cut or a layoff while the Lexus-drivers on Bay Street are getting big bonuses this year, subsidized by the corporate tax cuts that every Ontarian is paying for."

Cancelling the Corporate Income Tax cuts which take effect July 1 would save more than three times as much as the planned public-sector wage cuts, according to budget figures.

OPSEU will bargain to mitigate the effects of today's announcement, Thomas said.

"Quite frankly when we go to the bargaining table the employer always says the cupboard is bare," he said. "We will be creative in negotiating agreements that preserve public services and defend our members' rights at the same time."


For further information: For further information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, (613) 329-1931; Randy Robinson, (416) 788-9134

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