Author Archives: Jolomi Gagar

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There are many truths that have been laid bare through the COVID-19 crisis. We have learned that many people can do their work from home. We have learned that jobs, which countless people have belittled and dismissed in the past are, in fact, essential to the functioning of our lives. Perhaps most significant, we have learned that government responds to pressure and will put money on the table when it comes to directing emergency spending. We have yet to find out what the true financial fallout of COVID-19 will be, but if every other crisis is any indication, we do know that the business community is lobbying government hard and that bailout money for businesses is coming, if it hasn’t already arrived.

Workers in low-wage jobs have gotten used to feeling expendable long ago, but in the time of a global pandemic, even more so. From the onset of COVID-19 to the present recovery struggles, workers have clearly been the canary in the mine shaft. The recovery efforts by the government so far appear to be more about profit rather than safety.

Many workers are working and living in fear – the fear of balancing their health with financial necessity. Add to the mix companies that do not offer sick pay and we see workers who are hesitant to report illness because that would mean losing money they may need to pay rent or for their next meal.

 


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On May 26th, the Prime Minister voiced his support for 10 days of paid sick leave for all workers. While this is clearly a step in the right direction, at the moment it is nothing more than lip service, as no details were given and the announcement was overshadowed by political parties vying for credit.

The premise is simple – unpaid sick time is at all times negligible, but in times of a global pandemic it becomes downright deadly.

While the 10 days paid sick leave proposed by the Prime Minister is a starting point it should be noted that it is nowhere near enough for a worker who may fall ill with COVID-19 or may need to tend to a family member. Until this proposal is realized we are at the mercy of the current system.

Saskatchewan does not mandate paid sick time for workers, however, on March 19th the Saskatchewan government expanded labour laws to include a new public health emergency leave. Applied retroactively to March 6th, this leave is meant to provide job protection in the event a worker must self-isolate or has to care for a family member in similar circumstances.


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Category : For Workers , News , Uncategorized

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The Government of Saskatchewan, in partnership with the Government of Canada, introduced a temporary wage supplement of $400 for each four-week period, up to 16 weeks, for the period from March 15, 2020 to July 4, 2020.  To be eligible, a worker must earn a wage less than $24.00 per hour at an eligible essential care facility, in the four-week period for which the worker has applied for the supplement.

An eligible worker must also have total earnings less than $2,500, including earnings from work outside an eligible essential care facility, in the four-week period for which the worker has applied for the supplement. Aside from confusing people with its numerous, somewhat contradictory criteria, here is why we think this amounts to the Saskatchewan Government saying “We would pay you less if it wasn’t for this darned pandemic”.

This is limited to essential care industries only. This begs the question why? Well if you look at the trends in wages in frontline “essential” customer service, you see a lot of weird pay arrangements like “hazard pay” and “pandemic pay” being thrown around. In many cases, these pay arrangements act to increase starting wage rates above $15.00 per hour.


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Category : For Workers , News , Uncategorized

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In this global pandemic it is now apparent that society functions on the backs of essential workers that have held the frontline while we fight COVID-19. Giving these essential workers a livable wage is not only the right thing to do economically but also the moral thing.

The Fight for 15 campaign is built upon 3 demands that we will examine over the next 3 weeks.

DEMAND #1- Recognizing the value of and risk being taken by low wage frontline service workers, especially those risking their health to take care of ours in areas deemed essential by permanently and immediately increasing Saskatchewan’s minimum wage to $15.15/hr.


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