'Our union firmly believes that the province should focus its efforts to ensure that every Islander earns a livable wage and maintains a certain standard of living.' - Shelley Ward.
Charlottetown (12 March 2010) - The Prince Edward Island Union of Public Sector Employees (PEIUPSE/NUPGE) has taken a strong stand against the concept of a two-tier minimum wage for the province.
"The union is firmly against (any) system that allows for lower wages for inexperienced workers, students and/or workers earning tips," says PEIUPSE president Shelley Ward.
"Such changes to the wage rate are unnecessary and allow businesses to pay low-wage earners even less. The proposed changes are an unconscionable attack on the most vulnerable segment of the Island’s labour force,” Ward argues.
She notes that 5.6% of P.E.I.'s workers in 2008 received the minimum wage or less. The current rate in P.E.I. is $8.40, the third lowest in the country. Statistics Canada data also shows that average weekly earnings in P.E.I. are the lowest in the country. "Instituting a sub-standard minimum wage for some workers would only serve to exacerbate the poor situation in which low-wage earners already find themselves," she adds.
“What is clear about a two-tiered minimum wage system is that it discriminates against workers, de-values workers, is open to abuse by employers and presents challenges in recruiting and retaining workers,” Ward notes.
“A two-tiered minimum wage is not the type of change to the minimum wage that would be beneficial, effective or productive for the Island. Our union firmly believes that the province should focus its efforts to ensure that every Islander earns a livable wage and maintains a certain standard of living. A two-tiered minimum wage system does not accomplish either goal. Continuing to pursue such an objective is a reprehensible and shameful attack on low wage earners,” argues Ward.
Ward outlined her stand on the issue Thursday at a meeting of the province's standing committee on community and intergovernmental affairs.
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