Halifax Media Co-op

News from Nova Scotia's Grassroots

More independent news:
Do you want free independent news delivered weekly? sign up now
Can you support independent journalists with $5? donate today!
Advertisement

Op-ed: "Lazy" Employment Insurance recipients

by Rural Poverty In Annapolis Valley West

EI or fish plants? If your business success depends upon your workers' children going hungry because you won't pay their parents enough to live on, then you need to re-examine your business plans. Photo SmallScales.ca
EI or fish plants? If your business success depends upon your workers' children going hungry because you won't pay their parents enough to live on, then you need to re-examine your business plans. Photo SmallScales.ca

This op-ed was originally published in the excellent Rural Poverty in Annapolis Valley West. Check it out!

Last week I watched a CBC news story with Mike Duffy, the General Manager of a fish plant. I still remember the General Manager's name because, as you know, there is the trial of the former Senator Mike Duffy taking place right now. My first thought was "Wonder how much flack that guy has been taking?".

The news story was about temporary foreign workers  and what the loss of the the program will mean to the running and management of the fish plant.

Mr. Duffy went on to say that our federal and provincial programs for unemployed workers have made it 'too comfortable to stay at home' and, therefore, he has to bring in temporary foreign workers to run the fish plant.  Now, however, with the program being cut back, he cannot find the workers he needs for the business.

When asked about the pay for workers at the fish plant, Mr. Duffy says (not verbatim) "Well, we would like to pay $13 or $14 an hour but we have such a small margin of profit that we cannot afford it."

Okay Mr. Duffy....let's examine this.  You are accusing workers that are on Employment Insurance of being 'too comfortable' and not working at your fish plant but, on the other hand, you admit that your business cannot/will not pay a living wage to its workers.  So then, what?  You think workers should spend their days there working any way?  To what end?  For the glory of making profit for the owners and the detriment to ourselves?  

It does cost money to go to work Mr. Duffy.  When 'lazy' people on EI are at home, we can do other things to support our families such as growing a garden, preserving food, we can take care of our own children rather than paying someone else poverty wages to raise our children, we can take care of our elders, and on and on.  When you spend all your time working for piece work (usually less than minimum wage) or minimum wage, it can actually COST us in terms of what saving and work we could do at home.

We are still a (somewhat) democratic society and if the employer chooses not to pay living wages, the worker can still choose not to work for less than living wages.   If you are a business owner who needs to subsidize your business by underpaying your workers, then you cannot afford to be in business.  If your business success depends upon your workers' children going hungry because you won't pay their parents enough to live on, then you need to re-examine your business plans.  As I wrote in a previous blog post, "How can you be expected to have a Work Ethic when you are not paid enough to feed yourself to do the work?"

I have no problem with Temporary Foreign Workers but I do not believe that our jobs should be replaced by them and I don't believe that the temporary foreign workers should be paid less than what we would be paid for the same job. When local people work at a job, our money goes right back into the local economy when we purchase groceries, gas for our vehicles (if we can afford one), and so on.  Local workers are valuable; it would be nice if we were treated as such instead of as "lazy" and expendable.

From the Poverty Trenches,
Pat
 


Socialize:
Want more grassroots coverage?
Join the Media Co-op today.
586 words

Advertisement

User login


Google+
Subscribe to the Dominion $25/year

The Media Co-op's flagship publication features in-depth reporting, original art, and the best grassroots news from across Canada and beyond. Sign up now!