Paid leave, labour laws, and raising minimum wage: It’s time for government to start protecting our workers
Today the NDP Caucus grilled government on missed opportunities and long overdue actions needed to protect and support our province’s workers.
While government has amended the Labour Standards Act to require three days of paid leave and seven days of unpaid leave for victims of domestic violence, the NDP Caucus introduced an amendment calling for an increase to the amount of paid leave, which would result in five days paid and five days unpaid leave. The amendment was defeated by government.
NDP Leader Gerry Rogers says when women flee domestic violence there is much they have to do to re-stabilize their own lives and those of their children, such as seek medical attention, find housing, appear in court, and more.
“What made his government decide to do only the bare minimum by proposing only three days of paid leave, when the rest of the country is moving to five days of paid leave?” Rogers asked of the Minister in Question Period.
Rogers says the workers at D-J Composites are now in arbitration, but the length of this lockout and use of replacement workers illustrated the vulnerability of workers in the face of multinationals that want to lower wages and bust unions.
A 2011 Industrial Inquiry found that legislation was not strong enough to prevent such companies from refusing to bargain and bringing in replacement workers, Rogers says.
“Will the Minister amend the Labour Relations Act to prevent the use of replacement workers and impose binding arbitration when collective bargaining has broken down?” said Rogers.
NDP House Leader Lorraine Michael called on the Minister to adopt a schedule to increase the minimum wage gradually to $15 so these workers can bring home more than a poverty wage.
Michael says the current way that overtime wages are calculated is unfair to non-unionized workers who earn more than the minimum wage.
“Will the Minister do as most Canadian jurisdictions have done, and set the overtime wage at 1.5 times the employee’s regular wage?” Michael asked.