Province uses exemption under Employment Standards Act to renege on holiday and vacation pay for students.
Toronto (5 Aug. 2009) - Approximately 3,400 summer students who work in provincial parks are protesting an abuse of labour laws by the Ontario government, costing each of them $400 to $600.
Information picketing took place at several provincial parks over the holiday weekend.
The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE), which represents the students, says they received vacation and holiday pay in the past from the government and were promised the same this year.
However, the province is now refusing to honour these commitments, using the excuse that "the Crown" is exempt from vacation and holiday pay provisions under the Employment Standards Act, which applies to all other employers in Ontario.
“We hope the government gets the message loud and clear ... pay the students what they rightfully deserve,” says OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas.
Many government operations, including provincial parks, tourist attractions and travel information centres, rely largely on student labour.
For years, high school, college and university summer students have received an 8.16% top-up in lieu of having paid vacation benefits and statutory holidays off. OPSEU was advised during bargaining talks last winter that the practice would no longer be followed.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE