On International Women’s Day, the Premier of Alberta is framing his election campaign around an attack on women’s hard-earned equality gains
Edmonton – The Alberta Federation of Labour is marking International Women’s Day by standing up for women’s jobs and equality gains in the public sector.
The majority of Alberta’s public sector workers – those who work in health care, education, in cities and towns, seniors’ care – are women.
“The Prentice PCs are gearing up for a multi-million-dollar election campaign that targets women’s modest wage gains in the public sector,” Alberta Federation of Labour Secretary Treasurer Siobhan Vipond said. “When Jim Prentice talks about health care, education, and public service workers, he is talking about women. When Jim Prentice blames public sector workers for his government’s appalling record of tax and royalty giveaways, what he is really doing is blaming Alberta women—who earn just 63 per cent of what men earn—for his government’s reckless tax and royalty giveaways.”
An AFL analysis of public sector wage settlements in Alberta, released for International Women’s Day, showed public sector wage settlements between 2011-2014 delivered a modest 8.8 per cent of cumulative increases. The majority of the workers covered by these collective agreements were women.
By contrast, Alberta’s oil and gas sector workers saw a 17 per cent increase in their average weekly earnings between 2011-2014. Construction workers saw a 14 per cent gain. Managers of companies also saw a 17 per cent gain, while those in finance saw a 13 per cent increase in their annual earnings.
Vipond says Alberta women benefit from a wage advantage in the unionized public sector. But economy-wide, Alberta is the most unequal province in Canada. “When Alberta women look in the mirror, they see the highest levels of inequality in Canada,” Vipond said.
“The unions that represent women in the public sector have delivered pay equity, modest but reliable pensions, and health and safety protections,” Vipond said. “When we struggle for dignity and fairness in the workplace, women are the beneficiaries.”
Fifty-five per cent of Alberta’s overall unionized workforce, in both the public and private sectors, are women.
The Alberta Federation of Labour advocates that:
- Alberta remains the only jurisdiction in Canada without a voice for women in government. Alberta should establish a free-standing Status of Women ministry.
- Alberta has among the lowest number of child care spots and the highest child care fees in Canada. Public early childhood education and child care must be a priority if Alberta is to achieve better wage equality and educational outcomes for children
Olav Rokne, Communications Director, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780.218.4351 (cell) or via e-mail [email protected]
So-called ‘studies’ on public sector workers really an attack on women’s pay
Edmonton – On International Women’s Day, the Alberta Federation of Labour released a new study of women in Alberta’s public sector.
The study showed Alberta women in the public sector have earnings virtually identical to women in the private sector, putting a lie to the claim that Alberta’s public sector workers are overpaid.
Only low-wage occupations in Alberta showed a significant pay advantage in the public sector, and even then, only for women.
The data shows Alberta women are better off in the public sector because they benefit from pay equity, or equal pay for work of equal value.
The majority of public sector workers in Alberta are women. Attempts to roll back public sector wages are attempts to roll back women’s wages. Women in both the private and public sector, regardless of occupation category, earn less than men.
“What this study shows is that the struggles of unions and the women’s movement have paid off for Alberta women,” AFL Secretary-Treasurer Nancy Furlong says. “If women have the protection of a union and a public sector job, they have a shot at pay equity, and that’s good news for all Albertans.”
Alberta men earn significantly more in the private sector than they do in public sector jobs. The private sector advantage for men across all occupations was seven per cent, suggesting Alberta’s public service is underpaid relative to their private sector counterparts.
Alberta has the highest pay gap in Canada. Alberta women working full year and full time earn a median 68 per cent of what men earn.The pay gap is reduced for women in unions – to about 85 per cent of what men earn.
The latest AFL analysis of women’s wages in the public and private sectors is the first of a series of studies on wages in Alberta.
The AFL’s research is particularly important in light of the all-out war that right-wing front groups have been waging against the public sector in Alberta. Groups such as the Fraser Institute, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, and the University of Calgary School of Public Policy have all stepped up their attempts to undermine Alberta’s health care, education, and social services sectors, open up these services to privatization, and undermine wage gains economy-wide.
“The Fraser Institute, the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation, and the old boys club over at the University of Calgary School of Public Policy would like to rewind us back to the 1950s before women started joining unions and winning victories for equal pay,” Furlong says.
Furlong notes that women in the private sector who are not unionized should look into joining a union if they want to work toward equal pay for women.
“If right-wing lobbyists had their way, we’d go back to a time when women did comparable work to men but earned significantly less,” Furlong says. “All of these Tea-Party-style groups are targeting women’s paycheques. This International Women’s Day, the Alberta labour movement is saying ‘enough is enough.’ We’re proud of women have struggled for and won and enough is enough.”
AFL Backgrounder: Study: Attacks on Public Sector Workers Target Women’s Wages
Nancy Furlong, AFL Secretary Treasurer at 780-720-8945 (cell) or via email [email protected].