Skip to main content

When a wage freeze is not a wage freeze

In its dispute with teachers, the Ontario Liberal government sometimes tries to claim that one union's offer of a wage freeze is not in fact a wage freeze.

The rationale here is that even though no teacher would get a general wage increase for two years, some junior teachers would progress up the wage grid as they accumulate service.

This is an unusual take on wages.  And as noted in an earlier post, it is particularly peculiar point for the Liberals to harp on as they actually have agreed to service based pay increases in their deal with the catholic teachers association.

But the Liberal argument is also a rather one-sided interpretation of a wage freeze.

Pay based on service doesn't just go up -- it also goes down.  Pay based on service gradually increases as junior workers gain experience, but it also falls sharply when senior workers retire or quit and are replaced by a new worker.  The "gradual increase" and the "sharp fall" in pay is especially true for professions (like teaching) which have long, multi-year pay grids with a large wage differentiation between junior and senior employees.

If changes in service based pay don't even out for an employer in any given year, it will even out over time: older workers will sooner or later be replaced by younger workers.  The government knows this.  But that doesn't stop the Liberals.

If they want to freeze wages, one could just as easily ask why don't they freeze wages at the rates of the teachers who are retiring, rather than bring in teachers earning much less. But no, the Liberals only want to freeze the increases, not the decreases.

One might also ask why the Liberals think it is right to pay workers doing the same job so much less based largely on the age of the workers.

Finally it is interesting to note that the Liberal approach did not hamper the brand new tentative agreement between the colleges and their teachers, which  -- according to the colleges -- continues service based pay increases and imposes no concessions on the teachers.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Public sector employment in Ontario is far below the rest of Canada

The suggestion that Ontario has a deficit because its public sector is too large does not bear scrutiny. Consider the following. 

Public sector employment has fallen in the last three quarters in Ontario.  Since 2011, public sector employment has been pretty flat, with employment up less than 4 tenths of one percent in the first half of 2015 compared with the first half of 2011.


This contrasts with public sector employment outside of Ontario which has gone up pretty consistently and is now 4.7% higher than it was in the first half of 2011.



Private sector employment has also gone up consistently over that period. In Ontario, it has increased 4.3% since the first half of 2011, while in Canada as a whole it has increased 4.9%.







As a result, public sector employment in Ontario is now shrinking as a percentage of the private sector workforce.  In contrast, in the rest of Canada, it is increasing. Moreover, public sector employment is muchhigher in the rest of Canada than in Ontario.  Indeed as…

The long series of failures of private clinics in Ontario

For many years, OCHU/CUPE has been concerned the Ontario government would transfer public hospital surgeries, procedures and diagnostic tests to private clinics. CUPE began campaigning in earnest against this possibility in the spring of 2007 with a tour of the province by former British Health Secretary, Frank Dobson, who talked about the disastrous British experience with private surgical clinics.

The door opened years ago with the introduction of fee-for-service hospital funding (sometimes called Quality Based Funding). Then in the fall of 2013 the government announced regulatory changes to facilitate this privatization. The government announced Request for Proposals for the summer of 2014 to expand the role of "Independent Health Facilities" (IHFs). 

With mass campaigns to stop the private clinic expansion by the Ontario Health Coalition the process slowed.  

But it seems the provincial Liberal government continues to push the idea.  Following a recent second OCHU tour wi…

Hospital worker sick leave: too much or too little?

Ontario hospital workers are muchless absent due to illness or disability than hospital workers Canada-wide.  In 2014, Ontario hospital workers were absent 10.2 days due to illness or disability, 2.9 days less than the Canada wide average – i.e. 22% less.  In fact, Ontario hospital workers have had consistently fewer sick days for years.

This is also true if absences due to family or personal responsibilities are included.
Statistics Canada data for the last fifteen years for Canada and Ontario are reported in the chart below, showing Ontario hospital workers are consistently off work less.
Assuming, Ontario accounts for about 38% of the Canada-wide hospital workforce, these figures suggest that the days lost due to illness of injury in Canada excluding Ontario are about 13.6 days per year ([13.6 x 0.68] + [10.2 x 0.38] = 13.1).

In other words, hospital workers in the rest of Canada are absent from work due to illness or disability 1/3 more than Ontario hospital workers. 

In fact, Canad…