by Emily Leedham
Manitobans have been pushing for a $15 minimum wage for years. In 2016, students and labour organizers participated in a National Day of Action and delivered a petition to the University of Winnipeg. Last year, the Canadian Federation of Students ran a campaign on billboards and busses. In the media, the Manitoba Federation of Labour has repeatedly pushed for Brian Pallister’s government to help lift Manitobans out of poverty by mandating a minimum wage that is fair.
Now, it’s time to build on the foundations that have been laid and get out to communities and workplaces. Fight for 15 & Fairness Manitoba wants to ensure that every Manitoban working a low-wage precarious job has the opportunity to participate in the struggle to improve their conditions.
All low – wage workers deserve to be informed about their labour rights, develop organizing skills, and have access to resources to advocate for their interests. Whether it’s hosting educational workshops and events, connecting with union organizers, or planning rallies and other direct actions, we want to help workers utilize the best routes to meet their needs.
Big employers can afford $15
Let’s get this out of the way: Manitoba can afford a $15 minimum wage. Employers like Loblaws and Tim Hortons employ a vast number of minimum wage workers in the province. We also know these employers are in no way hurting financially, with Tim Hortons’ owner Restaurant Brands International reporting 87% increase in profits in 2018 while Loblaws CEO Galen Weston complains about the increased minimum wage while belonging to one of the wealthiest family dynasties in Canada.
As we have seen in Ontario, backlash against increasing the minimum wage has been based on greed, not economic necessity. In fact, despite the big business spin, we know that the minimum wage increases have not wrecked Ontario or Alberta.
Small business, too
And as for small businesses, we know that paying a living wage is not unreasonable either. Fools and Horses, a cafe which recently opened a second location at The Forks, is quite open about paying their employees fairly.
“It has made a huge difference,” Davison [an employee] said. “It lends itself to a really healthy work environment where people take pride in their work, they’re more dedicated, and they stay longer.
Fools and Horses owner James Magnus-Johnson shares why it is important to show employees value by paying them fairly:
“It’s the difference between valuing the staff you hire, training them really well and having higher expectations, versus having higher turnover and the higher costs associated with regularly replacing staff.”
But most importantly, it is a human right to receive fair wages for labour. By raising the minimum wage, we can subsequently improve other factors in Manitobans lives such as having better access to nutritious food, health insurance, adequate shelter, exercise, and recreation.
In addition to calling for a $15 minimum wage, our campaign called for improvements to working conditions. All who live in Manitoba deserve paid sick and family days, fair scheduling, and a healthy workplace free of bullying, discrimination and harassment.
Workers also deserve the right to unionize without interference from the employer – and so our campaign calls for a repeal of Bill 7 which Brian Pallister introduced in 2016 which made a secret ballot mandatory for all union certification. A secret ballot is simply one more hoop workers have to jump through when their intentions have already been made through signing a union card – and allows more time for employer intimidation.
We demand union certification be granted after 55% of employees sign union cards. While fighting for improvements to provincial employment standards is important, ultimately the best way for workers to have direct power over their power conditions is through a union.
So let’s get it done, Manitoba. Are you ready to Fight for 15 and Fairness?
Monday, September 24
4:30 PM Outside Portage Place
Wednesday, October 3
Tuesday, October 16
Like Fight for 15 & Fairness Manitoba on Facebook
Subscribe to the Newsletter