June 19, 2020
(Toronto) – The Ford Conservative’s proposal of a two-year pilot project that would remove nine statutory holidays from retail workers and leave them with only three shows the government’s callous and harmful attitude toward retail workers and their families.
Despite recent accounts that this proposal was never meant to be implemented, the government had public servants and representatives from the Office of the Minister of Government and Consumer Services present a technical briefing on Wednesday.
“The government was serious enough about this proposal to present it to some of the largest labour organizations in the country. Whether this was intended to go forward or not it’s yet another whiff of anti-worker policies and legislation by this government,” said Ontario Federation of Labour President Patty Coates. “Workers across this province are organized, and we will protect our rights.”
News of the proposal comes less than a week after many employers cancelled pandemic pay for workers, and on the heels of changes to termination and severance provisions for workers, and the removal of a worker’s ability to sue for constructive dismissal. The government also has yet to fully provide the promised pandemic premium pay for essential workers announced in April.
“No matter what happens next, this is an absurd proposal that shows every Ontarian just how little the Ford government values the workers they were calling heroes a few short weeks ago,” said Ontario Federation of Labour President Patty Coates. “This government has failed workers at every turn. It’s not enough for Ford that he has failed to legislate a livable minimum wage, or to reinstate paid sick days. With this egregious proposal, the Conservatives are planning a big cash gift to business, while they rip off Ontario workers. This government is treating retail workers like dirt.”
Retail workers are disproportionately women, racialized workers, and other equity-seeking groups.
“This government appears to be going out of its way to cause hardship for low-wage, precarious workers,” said Coates. “It can’t seem to get its head around the fact that it is workers who are the core of our province’s economy. Again and again, it gives big business a say while ignoring the real needs of Ontario workers.”
The Ford Conservatives have not remedied the working conditions that have led to the outbreak of COVID-19 in Ontario long-term care homes, nor have they made sufficient personal protective equipment available for workers during the pandemic.
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