The opposition to the Ford government’s wage restraint legislation, led by the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) along with a coalition of over forty unions, gained strength following Manitoba’s court ruling that struck down similar legislation.
CUPE Ontario is one of the unions in the coalition who filed a constitutional challenge to Bill 124 in March. The legislation allows the Ford Conservatives to override collective bargaining, effectively blaming front line workers for the deficit, and locking them into wages that don’t keep up with inflation.
"The ruling in Manitoba sends a clear message to the Ontario Government," said Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario, representing over 280,000 public sector workers. "Courts are showing us that conservative governments can’t get away with trampling on workers’ right to free collective bargaining. This is a testament to the growing understanding that public sector workers must be respected."
With the average annual salary for CUPE members being around $40,000, Hahn calls Premier Ford’s intention to limit salary increases to no more than 1% per year, which is below the rate of inflation, a "shameful attack on workers that the Ford conservatives call heroes."
"Front-line workers that are risking their own health to keep our communities running safely deserve compensation that’s commensurate with their value," said Candace Rennick, CUPE Ontario’s Secretary-Treasurer.
CUPE Ontario adds that there is a growing recognition, including by Premier Ford himself, that many front-line workers are underpaid. Recent premium pay, or "pandemic pay", issued to many front-line workers by the Ontario government underscores that reality.
"Front-line workers were there for Ontarians before this crisis – and they’ll be here, delivering invaluable services, after it passes," said Hahn. "They deserve not only to have access to their full rights under the constitution, to not have their wages artificially held back, but in fact they need and deserve a permanent pay increase for their permanent contribution to our communities."
Communications Representative, CUPE
email@example.com | 647-220-9739