|Print Version||Budget & Government Agenda|
The Canadian government does not believe it has a pay equity problem. According to Treasury Board, whose witness testified last night before the Senate Human Rights Committee, most of the problems have been resolved. Statistics were offered in support of this view: all female federal employees under 35 years old earn 97% of what all male employees earn, she said, compared to 76% in the nation’s general population. Whoa … those numbers may sound pretty impressive, but they sure don’t prove whether or not there’s a pay equity problem in particular segments of the federal civil service.
Later witnesses explained why. Firstly, the wage gap between male and female employees over 35 is roughly 30%. Singling out just one demographic group does not reveal the whole picture by any means. Secondly, comparisons with the general population are also misleading. “The wage gap is not pay equity. Pay equity scores comparables. You would look at identical duties or similar duties, skills, talents, responsibilities and working conditions …. Women [in the general workforce] have occupational clusters that are not typical of the federal civil service.”
Notwithstanding its apparent misinterpretation of basic statistics, Treasury Board seems convinced that its new Equitable Compensation Act will be a great boon for female employees. More likely, it will turn out to be a great boondoggle. Among its many flaws, the new legislation seeks to prohibit unions from representing its members. Here”s what one independent labour relations expert had to say last night:
Until the middle of the 1900s, employers often forced workers to sign what were called yellow dog contracts – that is, workers could not join unions as a condition of continued employment. I never thought that, in 2009, I would find myself fighting provisions of a statute that deprives workers of association, a Charter right, as a condition of making a complaint. There are certain provisions in this act that I would label statutory yellow dog provisions. I would argue that these provisions have no place being enacted into Canadian law.
Posted On Jun 05 08:17AM
Also on the Pay Equity Issue, here's a video that brings the message home in a controversial way:
Posted On Jun 01 10:01AM
I agree that it is outrageous to prevent a union from representing its members in a dispute -- that's a bullying tactic, for sure.
And if the government sets such a precedent, why wouldn't other companies want to follow suit (for their own self interest)?
On the pragmatic side -- isn't this just an expensive charter challenge waiting to happen? And won't the government simply lose on this front? (I can't see how such a position is defensible).
(On another note -- I do agree with Rural, that being FORCED join a union (as I have in the past) also feels like a breach of rights of some sort. I'm not anti-union, by any means -- they have their place and purpose in some sectors. But I've also seen unions perpetuate and privilege the status quo (white, male, anglophone or francophone) work force; being forced to join them is not always in the interests of those who are marginalized since unions also have their own problematic power structures).
Posted On May 26 02:53PM
Insofar as I can see “federal employees” simply cannot be compared with any other sector in this or any other area of employment.
Just to put thing in perspective how is being forced to join a union (and abide by their rules) to get a particular job (including one in government) any different from being forced to say that one will not do so in order to get a particular job? As the list of those with well above “average” compensation threatening strikes this summer increases, even as so many workers are loosing their jobs, indicates unions are WAY beyond simply “protecting workers rights” it seems to now be more about power and greed! Hmmm, wonder when the Union Party will be formed, or are they in all but name? J
Posted On May 26 01:00PM
While unions have their criticisms, and I am sure some are well deserved, their fundamental purpose is to protect the rights of workers. Governenment imposing fines on how and when unions can represent their memebers is unbelieveable. I would be curious to know what else is lurking in other bits of legislation......
Posted On May 26 12:22PM
Yellow dogs absolutely don't have a place in Canadian law. I'm horrified to learn about this blatant introduction of rabid neocon labour practices here. I had no idea the government was taking this approach. As one of Canada's largest employers (maybe even its largest), this example will encourage every selfish, money-grabbing capitalist in our country to try and get similar provisions for their own workforces. Although I don't agree with every union or all their tactics, I definitely believe they have a right to exist and to serve their members. Quite frankly, we should never tolerate such wrong headed government practices. They only serve to destroy the fabric of civil society.