Throne Speech must address restoration of labour rights, living wage as poverty reduction strategy

    TORONTO, Nov. 28 /CNW Telbec/ - With poverty reduction expected to be a
key issue in its throne speech this Thursday, the Ontario government can help
meet its goals for lowering poverty by fully restoring labour rights and the
right to organize, according to the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)
    "History has proved that unionization is a poverty fighter. Union jobs
pay on average $5.00 more than non-union jobs and offer the pensions and
benefits that workers need to live and retire in dignity and security," says
Sid Ryan, CUPE Ontario President. "If Dalton McGuinty is really serious about
eliminating poverty, then he must fully restore the rights of workers to
organize, rights that the previous Conservative government took away from
    Among other losses, the Harris government took away the right of workers
to signify in writing their agreement to form or join a union. To exercise
their democratic right to join a union, workers have instead been forced to
hold a public vote, allowing employers to campaign against unionization and
harass and intimidate them in the process, says Ryan. "Our signatures are good
enough to get a mortgage or a marriage license, but they aren't good enough to
join a union under these repressive laws."
    Since the laws were changed, unionization in Ontario has declined to 28%
and the number of new unionized workers each year has fallen to 11,608 in
2004-2005 from 32,116 in 1994. Ryan adds that, shortly after the 2003
election, the McGuinty government pursued a purposefully divisive tactic of
restoring the card check system for the building trade unions, but not for any
other labour sectors.
    "One need only look at the significant increases in the wealth gap to
realize that poverty is deepening because good jobs are being lost and people
are forced to work at low wage, precarious work that can't possibly sustain
them and their families, while corporate owners get wealthier," says Ryan.
    "What's needed is a living wage that will put food onto the tables of
Ontario's workers working in low wage jobs," says Ryan. "We need a return to
the labour laws that were in place for decades and that allowed Ontario
workers and its economy to grow and prosper."

    Throne speech Day: CUPE Ontario President Sid Ryan will be available for
comment immediately following the throne speech in the Queen's Park scrum area
or by telephone.

For further information:

For further information: Valerie Dugale, CUPE Communications, (647)
225-3685; Sid Ryan, President, CUPE Ontario, (416) 209-0066

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Canadian Union of Public Employees - Ontario Regional Office

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