OTTAWA, May 25, 2012 /CNW/ - The union which represents workers in several key sectors of the Canadian economy, including seasonal workers, says the Conservative government's EI changes amount to poor economic and social policy by driving down wages and punishing those who can least afford it.
"These changes will drive down wages and employment conditions for all workers," says Dave Coles, president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, noting that the unemployed will be forced to take jobs paying as little as 70 per cent of what they were previously earning.
Coles says the changes are linked to the government's plan to make it easier for employers to bring in migrant workers and pay them less than the prevailing wage.
"The Conservative solution to unemployment is to force unemployed forestry workers to pick strawberries," he says, pointing to a report by the Forest Products Sector Council that says of 100,000 forestry workers laid off since 2004, nearly 40,000 remain unemployed, and face significant barriers to securing re-employment in the industry or elsewhere. "This is not the way to re-build what was once a key economic sector."
"The mean-spiritedness callousness that is the hallmark of other Harper government policies, is clearly alive and well," adds Coles, noting that "the idea of travel to work does not recognize the impact on the family unit. It will be next to impossible for single parents, or families burdened by elder care, to travel for hours in order to work."
"In addition," he says, "the changes will have a significant impact on the livelihoods of fishery workers of course, but also of silva culture workers in the forest industry, and construction workers who work in communities devastated by mill closures."
CEP represents 120,000 workers in the forestry, energy, telecommunications, media, construction and other sectors.
For further information:
Dave Coles (613) 299-5628