Waterloo Regional Labour Council President Marc Xuereb was among many local residents presenting to the Ontario government's Changing Workplaces Review last week in Guelph.
He raised the demands of the $15 and Fairness campaign, which is calling for sweeping changes to the Employment Standards Act and the Labour Relations Act as a way to address the growing phenomenon of exploitative workplace practices in low-paid, part-time, contract, and temporary jobs.
|Waterloo Region $15 and Fairness advocates Jesse Bauman,
Karen Maleka, Marc Xuereb, David Eales, and Jordan Ellis
Accompanying Xuereb to Guelph were several other advocates for the $15 and Fairness campaign. Jesse Bauman works for the House of Friendship Emergency Food Hampers program, where one out of five emergency food recipients are employed. Karen Maleka is a home care worker and SEIU 1 activist who, along with hundreds of co-workers, works full-time hours but is classified as part-time so has trouble qualifying for a mortgage. David Eales, of Unifor 1106, represents personal support workers in health care facilities who are often employed in more than one part-time job with the same company at different locations. Jordan Ellis has worked at over 50 jobs in four years through a number of temp agencies: he's lost jobs for taking a sick day. WLUFA President Michele Kramer represents contract faculty at Wilfrid Laurier University who can work for years on contract earning slightly above minimum wage for the same teaching work done by their well-paid full-time peers.
"Precarious jobs are on the rise," Xuereb said to the Special Advisors on the Review Panel. "Too many people are being kept in part-time jobs when they would prefer full-time work, or are given contract instead of full-time jobs, all as a way to save employers money. Employment standards need to be updated to address this situation.
"Employers should not be permitted to add more part-time or contract jobs when existing part-timers want full-time work. People need good jobs, and employers are exploiting labour laws to create precarious jobs."
CBC Kitchener-Waterloo attended the Guelph hearings, and recorded this interview with President Marc Xuereb: CBC Interview.
The Guelph Mercury also spoke to several of the Waterloo Region activists, and published this story:
Precarious work takes a toll, area workers say at provincial forum in Guelph
Karen Maleka works 70 to 80 hours a week as a personal support worker, but she's still a part-time employee.
"I do full-time hours but I'm classified as part time," she said.
"I take care of sick people and I don't have a sick day."
Maleka doesn't have a pension and is unable to by a home because the bank will not give her a loan with just a part-time job.
The single mom of three is trying to cobble together a living in her field working multiple part-time positions, something that's becoming more and more common as precarious work, unstable temporary, part-time or contract work, rises in Ontario.
The Woolwich Observer interviewed President Marc Xuereb after the hearings, and published this story:
Pitching the $15 minimum wage
Read the full story at http://observerxtra.com/pitching-the-15-minimum-wage/.
Local labour activists had their say last week, sharing their stories of temporary employment, no benefits, and unfair wages to the province’s Changing Workplaces Review.
The Ontario government launched the public consultations in a range of cities across the province to examine how the Labour Relations Act (1995) and the Employment Standards Act (2000) could be altered to support workers and businesses fairly.
Marc Xuereb, president of the Waterloo Regional Labour Council, presented labour concerns, joined by three local workers at a meeting in Guelph.
“We wanted to be a part of this $15 fairness campaign because we want to raise the issue of how many people in our workforce are working in precarious jobs,” Xuereb said of the campaign to raise the minimum wage. “They’re part-time when they want to be full-time or they’re in temporary contract jobs, and so we voted to assign the president, me, to go and make a presentation to the Changing Workplaces Review.”
One of the workers who spoke was Jordan Ellis, who’s worked for several different temp agencies for four years, on average 15 different jobs a year. He explained how he often works alongside people doing the same job as him, who are making more money.