EDMONTON - The time has come for the federal government to stop dragging its feet on the issue of pay equity for public employees, says Audrey Cormack, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour.
Cormack says a decision handed down this afternoon by the Federal Court reinforces the need for sweeping changes in the way the federal government pays its employees. It also underscores the need to compensate thousands of employees for years of discriminatory pay practices.
In a written judgement, Justice J. Evans of the Federal Court rejected a federal government appeal of a landmark pay-equity decision made last year by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.
In July 1998, the Tribunal ruled that the federal government had, for years, been underpaying thousands of employees working in female-dominated job classifications. To remedy the situation, the Tribunal ordered the government to give 13 years of back pay to almost 200,000 current and former employees - most of whom are women.
"These women have waited long enough for fairness," said Cormack, pointing out that the complaint that started the whole debate on pay equity was originally filed with the Human Rights Tribunal in 1985. "Fourteen years is a long time. Now that the Federal Court has upheld the Tribunal's decision, the government should do the right thing and give these workers what they are owed."
Cormack acknowledged that the government could still appeal the decision to the Federal Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. But she said further appeals would benefit no one.
"There is absolutely no doubt that the Human Rights Tribunal's decision was the right one - both morally and legally - so any appeal to the Federal Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court would simply be a further waste of taxpayers money," said Cormack. "With this in mind, we are calling on the federal government to procedure with the implementation of the Tribunal's decision without further delay. People like Prime Minister Chretien and Treasury Board President Lucienne Robillard should remember that old saying: 'justice delayed is justice denied.' In this case, we think that justice has already been denied for too long."
For more information call:
Audrey Cormack, President: 780-483-3021 (wk) / 780-499-6530 (cell) / 780-428-9367 (hm)