If you haven't raked over the details of the Conservative government's budget bill (Bill C-10), you may have missed some things, like your rights to equal pay for equal work being tossed out the window and into Stephen Harper's dumpster.
Yes, at a time when the U.S. is moving forward with pay equity, Canada is stepping back. As political reporter Linda Diebel mentioned in her recent article Look what they're doing to women in the public service of Canada: “If the media wrote about any other group of people (you fill in the blank) being denied the right to even appeal to the Canadian Human Rights Commission, I'd like to believe there'd be an uproar in this country. Well, that's what they are doing. Right now. And there's no uproar. How can this be in Canada in 2009? It feels like we are going backwards. It doesn't feel good; it feels scary.”
Shameless Magazine have broken down some of the details of the proposed bill on their blog. Examples of proposed changes:
• The criteria for work value assessment, once based on skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions, now include “qualifications and market forces,” which in addition to being very subjective are more easily argued off the table than hard skills.
• Pay equity will be something that is negotiated at the bargaining table rather than something that should be guaranteed.
• Women who wish to make pay equity complaints must do so without support; in fact, unions who decide a claim is worth pursuing and try to offer representation or counsel will be fined $50,000.
• Complaints will no longer be processed through the Human Rights Commission, but through the third party Public Service Labour Relations Board, supposedly to save time. This Board is a bargaining table facilitator, dedicated to resolving labour disputes, not to preserving human rights.
• Bill C-10 would end the right of federal civil servants to take pay equity complaints to the federal human rights commission. Instead, such issues would have to be dealt with as part of the normal bargaining process between union and management.
“The Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act won't help the economy or save jobs. Government officials have admitted that there's no proof it will save the government any money. However, it will prevent women in the federal public sector from receiving equal pay for work of equal value. It has no place in the budget.”
You can read more about the insidious aspects of Bill C-10 in this Toronto Star article: What you missed in that budget bill. The bill also includes creepy additional extras including “amending the Navigable Waters Protection Act to let the cabinet exempt certain kinds of rivers and lakes from regulations that limit damming or dumping” and wage caps (to both sexes) retroactive to 2006 which means some workers would face wage rollbacks.
So it's time to call Harper on his crap yet again (the guy never stops!).
* Sign the Public Service Alliance of Canada petition and letter campaign, urging MPs to remove the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act from Bill C-10.
* Fire off this letter (from the Canadian Labour Congress action centre) to your MP.
And let's remember these not so loveable Harper high jinks come the next federal election.