Posted: Monday, 25 May 2009
On behalf of the 3.2 million members of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), we want to thank you for affording us the opportunity to present our views. The CLC brings together Canada's national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 137 district labour councils whose members work in virtually all sectors of the Canadian economy, in all occupations, in all parts of Canada.
The Canadian Labour Congress is pleased to make a presentation to the Standing Committee on the Status of Women concerning the Government's "Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act".
We are very concerned about the implications of this legislation for workers in the public sector and indeed for the future of pay equity in Canada.
The CLC has been involved with the pay equity issue for many years. We were full participants in the consultations conducted by the Pay Equity Task Force, which led to their thorough Recommendations presented in May 2004.
As this Committee is fully aware, the Task Force presented a series of measures which would have transformed the federal pay equity regime and made it more effective and fair for women working in the federal sector. This Committee made a number of important recommendations in your 2005 Report - "Moving Forward on the Pay Equity Task Force Recommendations". It is unfortunate in the extreme that the Government has chosen to ignore both the recommendations of the Pay Equity Task Force and of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women.
Current System is Broken
The Government claims that the "current pay equity system in the federal public service is broken". We agree and we would argue that the federal pay equity law needs to be fixed by adopting pay equity legislation on the Ontario or Quebec models. The Equitable Compensation Act is nothing like the other pay equity laws in this country.
Making pay equity a matter for collective bargaining, will not work. In fact, our unions' support effective proactive pay equity legislation, because for years we have been unable to bargain pay equity in collective agreements.
Only two years ago, library workers in several cities in British Columbia went on strike over pay equity issues. BC is one of the only remaining Canadian jurisdictions that does not have legislation in place to enforce pay equity.
Professor Marjorie Griffin-Cohen, of Simon Fraser University commented on the situation in BC: "What we need in BC is legislation like that in Ontario, which covers both the public and private sectors, but for now, it depends on unions. The women's movement and trade unions have been crucial in making advances on this issue for women. They have lobbied for appropriate legislation and negotiated wages that reduce gender imbalances. We are, unfortunately, far behind on this in BC."
And yet, the federal Conservatives want to throw us back into this kind of regime with essentially no proactive pay equity law.
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