Ontario government's 'disgraceful' treatment of student workers makes award a
sham: OPSEU

TORONTO, Oct. 9 /CNW/ - A publishing company might call the Ontario government a so-called 'top employer' but its thousands of student workers who received no holiday and vacation pay this summer know better, says the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU).

The union was responding to the provincial government's inclusion in a "Canada's top 100 employers" list compiled by Mediacorp Canada Inc. and published in Maclean's magazine.

The Ontario government refused in the summer to follow past practice and its own law, the Employment Standards Act, (ESA) and pay its 5,000 student workers for statutory holidays and vacation.

"The McGuinty government doesn't abide by the same law it applies to all other employers and it causes financial harm to its most vulnerable employees," said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. "Exactly what part of this disgraceful behaviour merits being recognized as a so-called top employer?"

The government's decision cost students between $400 and $800 each. Seventy per cent of the province's student workforce earned minimum-wage, according to government records released to the union.

The government's excuse was that the province has long been exempt from the holiday and vacation pay sections of the ESA and that its past practice of paying the 8.16 per cent top-up in pay had been a mistake.

Five thousand high school, college and university students worked at provincial parks, tourist attractions and government offices in the summer.

Students protested the government's decision with pickets outside provincial parks, tourist attractions and MPPs summer barbecues. They wrote and petitioned the McGuinty government yet their concerns were completely ignored.


For further information: For further information: Megan Park, OPSEU Communications, (416) 428-3090

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