Published on September 24, 2013
Derek Fudge of the National Union of Public and General Employees is seen on the unions Fairness Express during a stop in Corner Brook on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013.
Published on September 24, 2013
Representatives with the National Union of Public and General Employees spent this evening outside the Pepsi Centre in Corner Brook talking with people about income inequality.
Star photo by Diane Crocker
National union talking about income inequality
CORNER BROOK — The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is on a mission to get people thinking and talking about income inequality.
The union, the national union of the Newfoundland Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE), rolled into Corner Brook on Tuesday on its Fairness Express Bus Tour to Combat Growing Wage Gaps.
Derek Fudge said growing income inequality is what the union thinks is the biggest challenge facing Canadians. And Fudge, the union’s national director, policy development and liaison, said people are recognizing it is an issue.
“They recognize they’re not getting ahead,” said Fudge. “And there’s an unfairness that people are beginning to understand and beginning to think about.”
The Fairness Express was parked on the Pepsi Centre parking lot on Tuesday evening and Fudge said the location was chosen to connect with ordinary families as they visited the centre to register their children for minor hockey.
Fudge said growing income inequality is being driving by three things.
The first is Canada doesn’t have fair taxation.
“What we’re seeing is corporate tax rates decrease and the taxes of high-income individuals decrease to a point that they’re no longer paying their fair share,” said Fudge. “Without fair taxation you don’t have the revenue to run quality public services.”
Secondly, there’s no modern industrial strategy in Canada, said Fudge. Instead, he said, there’s a low wage strategy.
“Where EI has been cut like crazy. We’re bringing in temporary workers, which really takes away the demand on wages.”
Added to that, he said, is resources are being pushed offshore and there is no strategy to create good jobs and Canada is losing good jobs.
“If you lose good jobs, you get growing income inequality.”
Fudge said the third thing driving income inequality is an attack on labour rights.
He said in the last 30 years, 211 labour laws have been passed in Canada and of those 204 have restricted or eliminated workers rights.
This, he said, has resulted in the level of unionization going down and a decrease in unionization is a cause of income inequality.
The Fairness Express will be at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland today during the lunch hour. At 3:30 p.m. it will stop by the mill gate at Corner Brook Pulp and Paper.
On Thursday the tour moves on to Grand Falls-Windsor and will return to the west coast on Friday with visits to the College of the North Atlantic in Stephenville and the Arts and Culture Centre in Corner Brook.
On Saturday the tour will head out to the Port au Port Peninsula to take in the Port au Port Agricultural/Craft Fall Fair.
The tour will then move back to Nova Scotia, but will return to the province in October for the NAPE convention in St. John’s.