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Jason Kenney Rewards Big Business Lobbyists By Clawing Back Wages for Young, Low-Income Workers

Kenney’s discriminatory wage cut is even bigger than what big business lobbyists were asking for

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has unveiled a new plan to roll back workers’ wages and transfer  wealth to Canada’s biggest companies.

Standing shoulder to shoulder with big business lobbyists at a press conference Monday in Calgary, Kenney revealed his Bill 2 and Bill 3 will make Alberta one of only two provinces across Canada where some workers can be paid less than the minimum wage.

Beginning June 26, the minimum wage for workers under the age of 18 will be lowered to $13 per hour.

As PressProgress reported previously, Kenney’s discriminatory wage cut is even bigger than what the business lobby had demanded a year earlier.

As the Alberta Federation of Labour noted, it will cost the lowest-paid workers up to $3,000 every year.

When asked about this, Kenney flippantly told media: “Look — 13 bucks an hour — that’s a heck of a lot more than zero bucks an hour.”

The move was praised by fast food lobby group Restaurants Canada, which noted Kenney’s attack on workers “acts” on many of the recommendations it “made during the provincial election to help improve realities for restaurants.”

The changes also cut deep into workers’ overtime and association rights.

Kenney’s attacks on overtime would allow banked hours to be paid at a rate 33% lower than before, and that could hit oil workers especially hard.

The proposed changes, the Globe reported, also tighten rules for statutory pay — requiring employees to work 30 days before even being eligible for statutory pay.

The changes also restrict workers’ rights to unionize by requiring a second vote after the majority of workers in a workplace already signed cards indicating they want to unionize, something that only gives management a chance to intimidate workers not to go ahead with unionizing.

Following the 2017 introduction of card-check certification, Alberta saw the highest number of new union certifications in a decade, contributing to higher wages and greater job security for workers. The Alberta Labour Relations Board found that the province’s new union locals more than doubled in 2017-2018, with much of that in construction, food service, retail and healthcare.

Athabasca University Labour Relations professor Bob Barnetson told CBC News that was very-likely because, with card-check certification, “employers have less opportunity to interfere with workers exercising their associational rights.”

 

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