Who will fight to uphold women’s right to pay equity? Certainly not Stephen Harper and his (neo)Cons. Not Michael Ignatieff either. We can count on the NDP but on their own, they can only hope to get this bill separated from the budget bill so that there’s some chance of it being voted down now that Iggy has decided to sell women out and support the government on the budget. Women fought hard for this most basic of rights, equal pay for work of equal value. Why on earth should they be put in the position of having to bargain for pay equity with their government employer over and over again? How long do you think it will be before the private sector insists on the same “privilege”?
This from Linda Diebel’s blog, the Political Decoder:
The unravelling of rights is exactly what’s happening with the Conservatives’ new “Equitable Compensation Act.” There’s an Orwellian title for you – like the Patriot Act. The change the Conservatives slipped into the recent budget – after failing last year – has nothing to do with equitable pay. In fact, it’s the opposite. It removes any chance women in the federal civil service have of fighting for pay equity by denying them the right to complain to the Human Rights Commission, or to go to court, when they believe there is discrimination. Instead, pay equity issues are to be solved as part of the regular bargaining process but – get this! – if anyone agitates on the basis of pay equity, they face a $50,000 fine. So the Conservative regime is forbidding a woman from fighting for herself and, simultaneously, penalizing her union from fighting for her.
Once this legislation is passed, a woman working in the federal public service will have fewer rights than women working elsewhere in Canada.
“We fought this battle so hard 30 years ago,” [NDP MP Judy] Wasylycia-Leis said in an interview … “and I never thought we’d lose what we won. It’s shocking. They are taking it away in one fell swoop with the stroke of a pen . . . It hurts.”
There is still a way to stop it, she says. The act is part of the budget legislation and Wasylycia-Leis and her NDP colleagues are trying to divide it off into a separate bill that would then face its own vote in the House that, hopefully, wouldn’t be a non-confidence motion. If the Liberals and (one would think) the Bloc unites with the NDP, it could be defeated. The act should be in committee the week of February 23 and the House not long after.
Wasylycia-Leis says she’s embarrassed men in other parties haven’t fought harder for such a basic right for women. Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, she argues, could have refused to support a budget that contains this new pay equity regime, instead of demanding only progress reports. “Maybe,” she said, “they’re not aware what this does to women.” [emphasis added]
Oh they’re aware Judy. But I know you know that. I would prefer it a great deal if this bill was called what it is – the Inequitable Compensation Act. At least that would be honest. But then, we’re talking about politicians.
I’m supposed to be too old to be shocked. I’m shocked.