By Kyle Buott
President, Halifax-Dartmouth & District Labour Council and member of Solidarity Halifax
Politicians always talk about how they want to create good jobs in our economy. Unfortunately they think corporate tax cuts and handouts create good jobs. Here are five ideas that don’t cost the government anything, and that all political parties should support this spring to create good jobs for all in Nova Scotia.
1. Equal protection for all workers. Work is changing. It’s increasingly part-time, casual, or temporary in nature. Minimum standards and a basic employment contract should apply to all workers. We need to better regulate temporary agencies and create equal protections and benefits for part-timers, interns, temps, foreign temporary workers, and casual workers.
2. Proactive enforcement of labour standards. Right now labour standards are complaint-driven. Employers can essentially do whatever they want as long as workers don’t complain. This isn’t fair. Employers have power over people’s economic situation, and the fear of being fired often keeps workers from reporting labour code violations. Also, many workers do not know their rights. By investing in proactive enforcement we can make sure unscrupulous employers can’t exploit workers’ economic insecurity.
3. More holidays and better vacations. Nova Scotia has the fewest statuary holidays in the country, tied with PEI. We only get six holidays a year. Many other provinces get nine. Saskatchewan, Yukon and Nunavut get ten. If that isn’t enough, Nova Scotian workers only get a base two weeks’ vacation each year, compared to three in some provinces and four in most of Europe. We need more time off.
4. Make it easier for workers to join unions and bargain collectively. Labour unions bring up employment standards for all workers by creating a race-to-the-top, instead of the conservative race-to-the-bottom. When people come together and form a union they build democracy in the workplace and ensure a piece of the pie is shared with the workers who produced the wealth in the first place. This supports local communities and good jobs by increasing the amount of money spent in the local economy. Right now, the deck is stacked against workers who want to form a union to improve their living standards and get dignity on the job. Fewer than one in five private sector workers are in unions in Nova Scotia today, and that’s one reason our wages are second lowest in the country. When workers come together and form unions, living standards and wages go up. It’s that simple.
Need a union? Call the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour today at (902) 454-6735 and ask about how to build a union at your workplace. They will put you in touch with an organizer for your industry or sector.
5. Improve the Labour Standards Code – We need to reverse the war on workers. Employers have been driving down wages and benefits for decades. Why is it that Nova Scotia has some of the worst labour standards in the country? On almost every part of the Labour Standards Code, we are below most other provinces. You can check out this report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives by Judy Haiven, Larry Haiven and I that makes almost 40 recommendations to improve labour standards for all workers.
Politicians need to stop the bullshit. Good jobs can be created very easily in Nova Scotia. We can turn bad jobs into good jobs by simply doing what other provinces are already doing. Why should Nova Scotia’s labour standards be among the worst in the country? That’s not fair.
All that is required to change the situation and create good jobs is the political will.
So Darrell, Stephen, Jamie, how ‘bout it?
Stand up for fairness and create good jobs for all.
Note: Articles published by Solidarity Halifax members do not necessarily reflect positions held by the organization.