Labour wants higher minimum wage increase

    Current base level is far too low says AFL

    EDMONTON, March 18 /CNW/ - Although the Alberta Federation of Labour
(AFL) wholeheartedly approves of the Alberta government's announcement of an
automatic increase to the minimum wage in the province, the province's senior
labour central contends that the increase is too small because the base rate
is too low.
    "I commend the government for having put in place an automatic mechanism
to increase the minimum wage every year," says AFL President Gil McGowan.
"Labour has been asking for that for a long time and it is gratifying to see
it in action. It will prevent the real minimum wage from shrinking constantly
due to inflation - as it did so often in the past."
    "However, Alberta's current minimum wage of $8.00 per hour is simply too
low," says AFL President Gil McGowan. "We estimate that a living wage right
now in the province would have to be at least $10.00 per hour. So the
government- mandated increase to $8.40 per hour as of April 1st this year is
actually very disappointing."
    "What Alberta workers need is a minimum wage that actually reflects the
high cost of living in Alberta," says McGowan. "A minimum wage, after all,
should prevent full-time workers from living below the poverty line."
    McGowan also points out that although only about 70,000 workers are
currently at the minimum wage, any increase in the minimum has a
ripple-through effect that raises the wages of many, many thousands more
workers who are currently earning near the minimum wage.
    McGowan proposes first raising the minimum wage to $10.00 per hour and
then indexing it. "Let's start with a realistic and fair minimum wage - and
then take it from there," concludes McGowan.

For further information:

For further information: Gil McGowan, AFL President, (780) 483-3021
(office), or (780) 218-9888 (cell)

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Alberta Federation of Labour

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