Regional meetings build resistance to wage freeze | National Union of Public and General Employees

Regional meetings build resistance to wage freeze

OPSEU says a two-year freeze would cost many members nearly $2,000 annually in lost purchasing power.

Warren (Smokey) Thomas, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE)Toronto (29 Sept. 2010) - The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) is holding regional conferences as it escalates its fight against a proposed public sector wage freeze in Ontario.

Two conferences have just taken place in Cornwall (Region 4) and Toronto (Region 5) to educate activists and build strategies to oppose the freeze.

One the exercises carried out by participants involved an effort to calculate the impact from inflation on individual OPSEU members if a two-year wage freeze is put into effect.

The combined impact for 41 members assessed in Region 4 worked out to $420,000 over a period of five years, using a formula that took a two-year freeze into account followed by minimum increases to offset inflation in the other three years. For 90 members in Region 5, the cumulative loss was $984,000.

"Nothing will motivate our members to act, and stir them to action, like the exercise of calculating their personal wage loss," says Barb DeRoche, president of OPSEU Local 443. "This wage loss is a tremendous hit to expect our families to take."

OPSEU president Warren (Smokey) Thomas says the reality of a wage freeze is that it amounts to a real cut in purchasing power – equal to the rate of inflation – for the period it is in effect. Also, any loss incurred is carried forward in the form of reduced salaries to future years.

"The fact is, the freeze is really a significant cut that will cost the average OPSEU member close to $2,000 a year from the second year on," Thomas says.

Another regional conference is scheduled Oct. 1-2 in Sudbury (Region 6). Others are in the planning stages.

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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

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