Message to Minister Lukaszuk: Raise minimum wage before you resign to seek Tory leadership

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Minmum wage should be raised now, before thousands of high school students get summer jobs, says McGowan

EDMONTON – Before he steps down to pursue the leadership of the PC Party, Employment and Immigration Minister Lukaszuk should make good on the promise he made to raise the minimum wage, says the Alberta Federation of Labour.

“Lukaszuk’s first act when he became minister a year and a half ago was to freeze Alberta’s minimum wage,” say AFL president Gil McGowan. “At the time, he said he would review the practice of automatically indexing the minimum wage and only consider an increase when the provincial economy returned to health. Well, the review is done and the recession is over. It’s time for the Minister to live up to the promise he made to Alberta’s poorest workers.”

At $8.80 per hour Alberta, Canada’s wealthiest province, has the second lowest minimum wage in the country – after B.C. But B.C. premier Christy Clark recently announced that the minimum wage in B.C. will be increased to $10.25 per hour in May 2012.

McGowan says the time is right for Lukaszuk to increase Alberta’s minimum wage because the K-12 school year is almost over.

“Thousands of high school students will soon be applying for jobs and many of those jobs will pay minimum wage or close to it. Before Lukaszuk himself considers applying for a new job, that of premier, he should raise the minimum wage and help out those students,” says McGowan.

McGowan says both of Lukaszuk’s conditions for increasing the minimum wage have been met.

First, the Alberta economy has clearly returned to good health. Investment is up and unemployment is down. Retail sales are up nearly 6 per cent from last year. And the province’s average weekly earnings rose by nearly 7 per cent and are the highest in the country.

“Clearly, we can afford to give Albertans earning minimum wage a raise,” says McGowan.

Lukaszuk’s second condition was that a review be conducted of Alberta’s system for indexing and increasing the minimum wage. This was done last summer and fall by a special all-party committee of the Legislature. In December, the committee recommended that the minimum wage immediately be increased to $9.05 and that a system for regular cost-of-living increases be implemented.

“Despite the committee’s recommendations, the silence from the Minister on this issue has been deafening,” says McGowan.

Other jobs that will be left undone if Lukaszuk resigns include: making change to improve workplace health and safety; extending basic rights to agricultural workers; and fixing the Temporary Foreign Worker program (which Lukaszuk has admitted himself is dysfunctional).

“If Lukaszuk wants to be taken seriously as a leadership candidate, you’d think he’d want to finish at least some of this work before giving up the reins at the Employment and Immigration department,” says McGowan. “Increasing the minimum wage would be a good place to start and an important legacy to leave.”

The AFL is Alberta’s largest labour organization, representing 145,000 unionized Alberta workers.

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Media Contact:  Gil McGowan, president, Alberta Federation of Labour @ 780-218-9888

Tagged under: Wages minimum wage
Add CommentComments (4)

By RK | October 07, 2011
8.80 IS NOT THE PROBLEM. DO NOT BLAME THE GOVERMENT. GET A JOB. GET EXPERIENCE, OWN IT. IF YOU DO YOU WILL GET RECOGNIZED. IF YOU DON'T GET RECOGNIZED, GET ANOTHER JOB. IF YOU HOLD A BUNCH OF JOBS AND DON'T GET ANY RECOGNITION, YOU'RE DOING SOMETHING WRONG. IT IS NOT THE COMPANY OR THE GOVERMENT. IT IS YOU!!! TOO MANY PEOPLE COME TO WORK TO BANG OUT THEIR 8 OR WHATEVER HOURS THEY ARE SCHEDULED TO WORK. THEY DO NOT CARE ABOUT WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE BECAUSE THEY DESERVE TO GET PAID AND THEY ARE DOING THE COMPANY A FAVOR FOR EVEN SHOWING UP. THEY SHOULD GET MORE THAN THEY DO, GET HOLIDAY PAY, SICK PAY, OVERTIME PAY ETC. ETC. (I AM NOT SAYING HOLIDAYS, SICK OR OVERTIME PAY IS WRONG, JUST MAKE SURE YOU'RE PRODUCTIVE), THEY WANT TO COME IN LATE, GO HOME EARLY, GET PAID FOR FULL TIME SCHEDULED, SIT ON THEIR PHONE TEXTING OR ON INTERNET. ALBERTA IS A LAND OF OPPORTUNITY. ROLL UP YOUR SLEEVES AND GET TO WORK ...........OR KEEP WHINING...................YOUR CHOICE.

By Jay | October 05, 2011
"It’s time for the Minister to live up to the promise he made to Alberta’s poorest workers.” I really igree with this sentence Snel Afvallen

By Jay | October 05, 2011
“Thousands of high school students will soon be applying for jobs and many of those jobs will pay minimum wage or close to it" I hope as a student that they will pay a lot more for jobs Snel Afvallen

By BrandonS | May 24, 2011
Well, I agree with "Well, the review is done and the recession is over. It’s time for the Minister to live up to the promise he made to Alberta’s poorest workers” and I hope that the right thing for all parties are done. The minimum wage is actually not too bad considering and comparative to the United States and other countries but a raise is definitely needed Online Casino

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