Dear sisters and brothers:
The wage freeze the McGuinty government imposed in its 2010 budget must not go unchallenged.
That was the clear message that came out of an April 8 emergency meeting of the OPSEU Executive Board.
By now, most of us know what the freeze is about: Under Bill 16, the Liberal budget bill, non-union workers will see their wages frozen immediately for two years. Employers at union workplaces will be told that they will have no money to fund pay raises.
This is not a pay “freeze,” of course. It is a cut. With inflation projected to average two per cent per year over the next two years, workers are being told to donate four per cent of their wages to fighting the deficit. Or, to put it another way, to work for free one week every year.
This might be easier to handle if, as Finance Minister Dwight Duncan suggested in the budget speech, we really were “all in this together.”
But we’re not, apparently.
There have been lots of headlines lately about all the top managers will still get their “pay for performance” bonuses. What has not been talked about are the massive corporate tax breaks that will boost profits for already-profitable companies like the big banks. These breaks – paid for in part by the wage freeze – will enable companies to pay even bigger bonuses to rich managers who simply don’t need them.
These are the same people who think nothing of paying $950 a plate to attend a Dalton McGuinty fundraiser.
What are they buying, exactly? We all know. They’re buying access to politicians. They’re buying influence. They’re buying promises of more “business friendly” special treatment ahead.
It is, quite simply, wrong for the Minister of Finance to ask a part-time developmental services worker to take (say) a $400-a-year pay cut when he himself charges bankers $400-a-plate to tell him what to do.
To support OPSEU units in bargaining, your regional Executive Board Members will be organizing protests at Liberal fundraisers. We’ll be taking a strong position on Bill 16. And we’ll be demanding a new, higher tax bracket that gives Ontario’s wealthiest earners a chance to pay their share.
Please join the fightback. To find out more, please contact the Board members in your region.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President
Ontario Public Service Employees Union