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Decades of corporate and legislative obstruction to improvements for workers and their families seemed to be coming to an end when Bill 148 (Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act) was passed at the end of 2018. Bill 148 brought about profoundly overdue increases to the minimum wage and provisions such as two paid sick days, fairer scheduling rules and equal pay for equal work. In a quote from Kevin Smith, Labour Council President, he noted that “Bill 148 did not address decades of grievances that needed to be addressed to help precarious workers and their families, but there was at long last hope for a better life and more improvements as progressive organizations worked to seek and drive more improvements for all workers”.

With no mandate to repeal Bill 148 the majority government of Doug Ford, elected by the minority of Ontario voters, has betrayed all workers by pushing through Bill 47 to repeal many of the provisions of Bill 148. The Ford government talked about “for the people” throughout the election campaign. When asked, Labour Council VP Dave Trumble stated that “now with the election behind him and Ford’s corporate and business leash holders being the only people he is apparently interested in, Ford and his sycophantic caucus have betrayed the very people that he claimed to want to work for”.

As Bill 148 was being debated in 2017, members of the Grey Bruce Labour Council met with local MPPs Bill Walker and Lisa Thompson. Both MPPs were re-elected in 2018. During the meetings with Labour Council Delegates neither Walker nor Thompson could see eye to eye with the position of the Labour Council, a position by the Council that clearly supported Bill 148 and even further improvements. However, both MPPs were clear and concise that they wanted to hear from all their constituents and to hear all points of view. Those delegates that attended those sessions with Walker and Thompson now recognize that the statements by the MPPs were nothing more than lip service.  “MPPs Walker and Thompson both lined with Ford and tossed workers and many of their constituents aside to ensure their continued position as lapdogs of organizations that have advocated against workers and improvements for workers”.

It is known that the Owen Sound Chamber of Commerce is on the record as supporting the government of Doug Ford and this premeditated plan to disempower workers and their families. The Labour Council is very interested in how the members of the Owen Sound Chamber of Commerce voted and is likely going to be seeking a record of how the various businesses voted. If the record of how the voting took place is not forthcoming it is also possible that a Freedom of Information Request will be made. Once the record is provided the Labour Council would very much like to encourage shoppers to patronize the businesses that did not vote in support of Bill 47 and its repealing of provisions in Bill 148.

The Grey Bruce Labour Council has been the voice of workers for over 60 years and is made up of private and public sector unions that represent thousands of workers across our region. These workers and their families need to know that the actions of the Labour Council going forward will support the activities of provincial organizations such as the Ontario Federation of Labour and “15 and Fairness” to hold local politicians accountable, to support Days of Action and to work to do all that is possible through collective action to undo the betrayal of workers so callously and heartlessly enacted by the Ford government and our local MPPs, Thompson and Walker.

source: media release, Grey Bruce Labour Council

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