The hypocrisy grows

Lana Payne
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Sadly, 2012 started out as 2011 ended with more tales of economic inequality and injustice. And more government indifference.

One tale involved two groups of workers in Alma, Que. and London, Ont. who were locked out by their multinational (and profitable) bosses as some were just ushering in the New Year. Those bosses are demanding massive concessions from their unionized employees.

The other tale was one of the one per cent, to use language made famous by the Occupy movement.

As picket lines went up, a report from the Canadian Centre of Policy Alternatives on New Year's Day noted that Canada's top 100 CEOs averaged $8.38 million in annual compensation in 2010 - about 189 times more than the average Canadian, working full-time, full-year.

By noon on the first working day of 2012, the top CEOs had already earned what it takes the average Canadian to earn all year.

The growing gap between these CEOs and the rest of Canadians continues to climb.

For example, in 1998 they earned about 105 times the wages of the average worker.

The growing gap is partially explained by the fact that real wages in Canada have barely been keeping pace with inflation.

CEOs never have to worry about inflation.

This had to be bitter news for the more than 1,000 Quebec and Ontario workers who are being squeezed by their multinational employers to take cuts in their pay and benefits.

Indeed, the demands by ElectroMotive, a subsidiary of equipment giant Caterpillar, are about as outrageous as they get, including a 50 per cent cut in pay.

These demands are coming at the same time as the corporation's revenues are projected to be about $44 billion for 2011, including billions in profits.

Certainly the CEO of Caterpillar is not hurting for a buck. And neither is the retiring boss.

In 2010, Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman's compensation totaled about $10.4 million, according to an Associated Press review. Jim Owens, his predecessor, raked in $22.5 million in 2010 because of an extremely generous stock grant of about $16 million.

"We're having a great year in 2011, and 2012 is shaping up to be better," according to Mr. Oberhelman in a recent Reuters news article. No doubt he and the company are. The workers? Not so much.

In Quebec, Rio Tinto (one of the world's largest mining corporations) locked out about 800 Alcan smelter workers. The corporation is also demanding major concessions, including cuts in pensions from its workforce.

The chief executive at Rio Tinto earned nearly $9 million in 2010, a 32 per cent pay raise over the previous year. That year, the company had profits of over $14 billion. In our province, Rio Tinto owns the IOC mine in western Labrador. The company and the union are currently in negotiations.

In both cases, these multinationals took over Canadian companies - not unlike Vale and its takeover of Inco. The takeovers by foreign multinationals are approved under a federal law known as the Investment Canada Act.

The problem is from all accounts the federal government does a really bad job of pulling guarantees from these corporations. Guarantees that they will live up to their promises and commitments with respect to Canadian benefits and jobs.

The country's labour movement, and even some business leaders, has raised concerns about the rampant level of foreign investment and foreign takeovers and what that will mean for jobs and economic development in the country.

Indeed in the face of such rampant globalization, some have called for more tools to regulate foreign investment, ensuring that such investment actually helps our economy rather than "hollowing it out."

The Canada Investment Act is supposed to ensure some level of "net benefit" to Canada, but as was raised by our Federation of Labour during the Voisey's Bay Industrial Inquiry, those net benefits are dubious at best.

Indeed, we just have to examine the situation of the workers in London and Alma to see that the Canada Investment Act is not doing a very good job of benefitting Canadians when the foreign takeovers result in lost jobs, smaller wages and fewer benefits, or even the shuttering of plants and workplaces.

Ironically, the Harper government was quick to lash out at Air Canada and Canada Post workers for demanding fair treatment from their employers as they defended good jobs for Canadians. And yet in the case of these two lockouts and the outrageous demands by corporations, the Harper government's silence has been deafening.

The hypocrisy of it all just stinks.

If Canadians can't depend on their governments to stand up for good jobs then we are in a sorry place indeed.

But then this is the same federal government that - in addition to rubber-stamping foreign takeovers - hands out billions in tax breaks and tax credits to these same corporations, no matter their record on the creation of good jobs.

The economic race to the bottom is full speed ahead in our country unless more people start standing up to this kind of economic injustice.

Whatever happened to the concept and principle that we share the wealth generated from our economy?

It's bad enough that workers are expected to pay the price of the financial crisis and subsequent recession - a recession they didn't cause. It's bad enough that in tough economic times workers are told to hold the line.

But now, even in the face of stunning corporate profits, even in the face of incredible corporate cash hoarding, even in the face of obscene CEO pay and billions in corporate tax cuts and credits, the living standards of workers are still under attack.

Is it any wonder these workers are angry? Make no mistake, eventually this kind of lewd corporate gluttony and the arrogant indifference of governments to it will come home to roost. It is only a matter of time.

Lana Payne is president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour. She can be reached by email at Her column returns Jan. 28.The hypocrisy grows

Organizations: Rio Tinto, Caterpillar, Associated Press Reuters Alcan IOC Inco Air Canada Canada Post Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour

Geographic location: Canada, Alma, London, Ont. Quebec Ontario Labrador London

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Recent comments

  • Purple Library Guy is missing the point
    January 21, 2012 - 11:48

    Purple Library Guy said " Is there a job that corporate guy and his peers would say "No, I won't pay low wages for this one even if there are people in India who will do it for a third the price? Aside from, say, CEO, obviously not. " well to answer your question, YES there jobs that I pay more for in Canada even though I can get cheaper labour elsewhere. Basically, ANYONE who DOES a job that REQUIRES AN EDUCATION gets good wages in my companies. I pay high salaries to my VPs, Directors, Managers, Marketing Team, IT Staff, ENgineers, Accountant, Business Analysts, Technicians, programers and others. THey get a middle class salary, annual wage increases, health benefits, employer pension contributions, paid vacation, mat leave top ups and lucrative bonuses. They are skilled and educated people who are important to my company and must be compensated at a high levels to prevent them from seeking employment elsewhere. On the otherhand, the unskilled worker is of little value. They do a job, but can be replaced at the dime of a hat. I do not give the wage increases of pensions or health benefits, because anyone can do the job. They have nothing to offer that warrants a high wage. If they did, I would pay it. Sure, we have the technology and productivity levels to do what needs doing and give everyone a decent wage for doing it, but not everyone makes a decent contribution to the increase in productivity and therefore has done nothing that warrants decent wage. For example, I paid my engineers and consultatants over 1 million dollars to built a system to do the work of 100+ menial telephone workers. They did the job, and the workers were replaced. But as a result, the workers no longer make a contribution to the company. WHy should they be rewarded? With the new machine, there is NOTHING for the workers to do. What have they done that warrants a reward? Yes, my IT staff, my engineers and technicials who helped replace the workers deserve a raise. And the marketing people who get the contracts for the new system deserve one too. WHy reward those who contribute nothing? I don't and won't. And that is the answer the question....even though productivty and technology can provide a decent living for everyone, only those that contribute to the productivity and the technology should be rewarded. I agree that the wealthy don't spend and will not replace the spending of the middle class....I beleive trickle down economics is false and is a joke. But the spending lost by locally paying "unskilled" workers will be replaced by demand from OTHER PEOPLE, not the wealthy. The middle class is changing, the unskilled are being pushed out, but being replaced by educated workers in different jobs. Manfacturing jobs are disappearing, but financial sector jobs are increasing for example. We lose in one area, but gain in another....The middle class is still here and will still spend. Lastly, to me, unskilled labour refers to anyone who does a jobs that does not require education. Unskilled refers, again to me, to someone who does a job that they can be fully trained for in a short time. I consider packagers, telemarketers, data entry workers, basic assembly line workers, receptionists and many more. My mantra is that if someone off the street can walk in and be trained in a few hours, then this is an unskilled job and deserving of less than minimum wage. As for suggesting that "we'd be better off skipping the "making corporate guy rich" part." I have to point out that no one made me rich but myself. I made the strategic decisions and investments to create a company that functions with minimal front line work and delivering services that was previously done by humans using machines. From what I see, the bottom line is that you and I seem to AGREE that the wealthy CANNOT carry the economy, however you seem to think that the unskilled people are vital to the economy whereas I think it is the middle class that is vital and contest that the unskilled workers are necessary to the middle class. The middle class can change, it can evolve. SOme people will move into the middle class, while others will fall out. It is just the nature of sociatal and economic evolution.

  • Purple Library Guy
    January 20, 2012 - 03:55

    Morphing-handle corporate guy is spouting sophistry. The claim that demand reduced by underpaying or not locally paying "unskilled" workers will be replaced by demand from the wealthy who pocketed the money is specious. The fact is that the wealthy don't spend nearly as much of their money; increased inequality reduces demand. Even mainstream economists admit this. More fundamentally, the mantra of "unskilled, unskilled" is deeply misleading. What is "unskilled" labour? The basic calculus that owners would prefer to pay less for the work they need done does not change no matter what the work might happen to be. There is very little work that requires no skills at all. "Unskilled" just means "readily fungible", i.e. there are other people with the required skill who will compete for the job. But this kind of job has been moving up the educational chain; many jobs we traditionally think of as quite skilled (e.g. programming) increasingly also have enough low-wage supply to meet demand. Is there a job that corporate guy and his peers would say "No, I won't pay low wages for this one even if there are people in India who will do it for a third the price?" Aside from, say, CEO, obviously not. Here's the thing: We have the technology and productivity levels that we could do what needs doing and give everyone a decent wage for doing it. In the name of people like corporate guy getting rich, we instead push unemployment or low wages on more and more people, while often failing to do what needs doing or supply things that people need (but no longer have effective demand for 'cause they're broke). Clearly we'd be better off skipping the "making corporate guy rich" part.

  • just to be clear
    January 18, 2012 - 07:15

    I don't want Canada to become a low wage economy, and I don't want the standard of living to go down. After all, I do live here. That said, I don't believe that the unskilled workers are essential to an economy, in the same way that I don't need to pay them more than the minimum. I understand that we have a demand based economy, but again argue that the unskilled only represent a fraction of the economy. Sure, they will spend less, both others will spend more. When I layoff a worker, I get to spend more money, and so do the workers who make the layoffs possible because they get more money. I reward efficiency and eliminating the jobs of unskilled workers is operationally efficient. I also provide outsourcing consulting for companies who want to eliminate is a very lucrative service. I strongly support the existence of a Canadian middle class, but I also strongly believe that the unskilled workers of this country no longer belong in the middle class, and think that rather we should focus on ensuring that those who are skilled and educated are included in the middle class instead of the unskilled. You may disagree, but that will not stop me and others from hiring unskilled workers in countires and US states that allow a lower wage to be paid.

    • Response to JUST TO BE CLEAR
      January 19, 2012 - 00:33

      Oh my God!!!!! Do you really believe that the unskilled workers of this country no longer belong in the middle class? When did the "unskilled" workers EVER belong to the middle class? I know someone who IS Unionised, IS semi-skilled, and makes $13/hour. That is $2.50/hour HIGHER than minimum wage. The best she can do is work a 30 hour work week because her employer is just like you... I'll save you the trouble; that makes $20,280.00 per annum! Do you call THAT middle class? I call that barely above the poverty line! Why don't you drop by the homes of a few of your minimum wage employees (if you still have any) and see where they live. Then tell us all about it, tell us all how they are living in the lap of luxury. Go ahead, I dare you! JUST TO BE CLEAR, you have already made it abundantly clear how you feel by your previous comments. You say that you don't want to see the country become a low wage economy, and you don't want the standard of living go down? With employers like you around, that will NEVER happen. This country... this beautiful country, will become another China or India! Have you never heard the expression "the race to the bottom"? This is what you are creating. Unskilled workers are not essential to the economy? We are ALL essential to the economy! Who do you think will fill the gas tank in your Jaguar, or cut the grass on your 2 acre estate? And my apologies to all the hard working folks out there, who pump gas in the freezing cold, or do lawn maintenance under the blistering sun. Unskilled workers do NOT represent a FRACTION of the economy; they represent the MAJORITY of the economy. Probably closer to the 99% than you care to believe. You couldn't survive without the unskilled workers. And you have already admitted that you DO NOT reward efficiency, you couldn't care less. The only thing you reward is the person who will work for the lowest wage! I do disagree with your way of thinking, and I'm sure that a majority of the Canadian population does also. Most Canadians are compassionate and caring... most! But, there are a few socio-paths who really DON'T care what happens to others. You have mentioned a few times how you make more money by sending work over-sea, or across the border. Would it be so difficult to keep a few more jobs here, and make a little less yourself? After all, how much money do you really need? Say... you're not Kevin O'Leary, are you? No... None of us CARING Canadians will ever be able to change your mind, or the other employers like you. We can only hope that your way of thinking comes back to bite you in the ass one day! Maybe when you get a little older and you can't find someone to come to your mansion to change your diaper, because there aren't any people who will do it for minimum wage. Boy, will you be paying through the nose then! Please, as I have said before, why don't you move to China or somewhere else where their unskilled workers don't mind being unappreciated and under paid. There is no room for employers like you in this country. You sir, are the cause of the problem… not the solution!

  • Purple Library Guy
    January 17, 2012 - 16:18

    Wow, various-named corporate guy really knows how to miss the point. Corporate guy, I understand that you want low-wage workers. I understand that this allows you to gain higher profits, so it is rational for you to push for low (or occasionally no) pay. And yes, you can sell in places other than where you're shipping jobs from or creating poverty in. So yes, for a long time anyway you personally can continue to make money from this practice. But I Don't Care What You Want. The question is what's good for the economy as a whole, say for instance since you're nominally Canadian, Canada's economy. Or the world's economy. Actually, what's even more important is what's good for the world's people. And what's good for those economies and people isn't you. I'm starting to wonder if you're a parody, actually--you haven't even pretended to be good for anything, you've just argued that you can get away with destroying demand for a long time because you can always find some demand somewhere else. But there are lots of others just like you. One parasite, sure, the economy can handle. But when the whole economy is run by people like you, it becomes a low-wage economy. Two problems with that. First, if the purpose of an economy is to promote the population's well being, the moment you move to a low-wage economy you've already failed. And two, if enough of your sort kill enough wages, you run out of places to find demand. You start finding that the places in Europe you want to sell to, the European CEOs have already outsourced the jobs from. The Europeans find that the North American market they want to sell to has already outsourced the jobs as well. And both of you find that when you turn to Asia, to the extent that they start a middle class going that can buy stuff they already have that demand covered by domestic production (and then some). The world is not infinite; you cannot continue growth indefinitely by cutting wages but then selling to whoever you can find whose wages you haven't yet cut. This is one reason why of late years every post-recession recovery has seen weaker job growth than the one before and the level of "structural" unemployment considered acceptable keeps creeping upwards. Much of what has so far appeared to compensate is empty financial shenanigans that create no real wealth. Since we agree that it's rational for you to do what you do, the only plausible way out of this for the rest of the population who are harmed by your actions, is to remove people like you from your positions of power. If you're not in charge, your rational maximization for yourself can no longer hurt the rest of us.

  • think about it
    January 17, 2012 - 13:44

    the students working for free is part of a co-op program. nothing illegal about it. many college/university programs have co-op programs included as part of the degree/diploma requirements. They want their students to get work experience, students want work experience instead of a a regular course, and we appreciate the help the students are offering and work wtih the institutions to give the students the work experience. it is a win for their institution because their students get experience that positions them better in the workforce (and the students still pay for their credits normally, so no $$ loss for the school), the students get the experience, and we get free help and input from young educated minds. Of course, we have to provide an experience that is relevant to their studies, so we can only use them for the unskilled work for so long, mainly to get them to understand how the work fits with their roles and functions that relate to their studies. But when you hire so many of these students, the amount of unskilled work that they collectively do leads to great savings in wages. Many large employers do this at many schools and thousands students apply for the privelege of participating in these programs. As far as I can see, the only loser in the situation is the unskilled worker, but if I benefit with free labour, and the students benefit with satisifying program requirements and getting experience (and references), and the institutions benefits by building a good reputation for their program with employers and potential students, then to me, this sounds like a net benefit. Sadly, there is a loser, but it seems like the greater good prevails.

    • Response to THINK ABOUT IT
      January 17, 2012 - 19:42

      Like I said... as long as they DO NOT replace paying jobs! You said you had to fire paid positions to make room for students? ILLEGAL! I'm sure it is still against the law because I just read something about that the other day. I just wish I could remember where I read it, so that I could quote it to you. I suppose you sit at home at night and brag about your low labour costs, but get angry because the same people don't purchase you product or service. Why don't you do us a favour and tell us where your business is so that we can put it to the test. I wonder if a Government Official would have the same view as you. Yes, it's wonderful that students can get practical experience, but not by displacing real jobs. Now that I finished my career in the auto industry, I am also taking a course to change my career path, and I will also be doing co-op hours. But I couldn't live with myself knowing that I replaced someone who actually needs an income to pay his mortgage, buy groceries, and cloth his children. There is no reason why I can't work WITH someone and learn. Do I really have to TAKE his job? But you see... I am a compassionate person who also knows that in order for me to sell what I want to do, my clients will need to be gainfully employed.

  • response to sealcove
    January 17, 2012 - 08:27

    Sealcove, you are not entirely right. I disagree that any job could be sent offshore. I am the owner of the company, so it is unlikely that I will offshore the jobs of myself or my family. Can what I be done offshore? ABSOLUTELY. But obvously, I will not offshore my own job. On the other hand, I own several McDonald's and gas stations. THose jobs cannot be offshored, so my income as the franchise owner is completely safe too. I certainly am not cocky, but I understand how the economy works and governed my operations and investments accordingly.

  • Purple Library Guy is simply wrong
    January 17, 2012 - 08:22

    TO Purple Library Guy: there are so many things wrong with your post. Yes I want unskilled labour to be performed, but I want it performed for cheap, actually I want it for as little as possible. My two strategies for putting more of the wages of the unskilled into my pockets are 1) offshoring/outsourcing, and 2) investing in technology. My engineers have build machines and software appplications that have led to 100s of job losses. And as a result, they got a HUGE bonus. Almost a six figure bonus for eliminating the jobs. That was the structure of the contract. a specified amount of money as a bonus for every job that was eliminated. Yes, fewer people are employed, but remember, I sell my products and services globally, so if the Canadian unskilled, of even if Canadians as a whole cannot afford to by, then I can sell to Americans, or the Europeans or anyone else. I does not matter to me who buys the product. But going back a step, your point is moot. Just becuase I use high employment to dive down wages or eliminate jobs in Canada does not mean fewer products will be sold, because there are other Canadians who will still buy. AND further, even if less product is sold, that could still translate to more profits. Think about it....if I gross $250,000 less in sales, and eliminate $500,000 off the payroll, I am actually making more while selling less. This is actually the case in on of my subsidiaries. As you can expect, I have no problem with this. WHat is considered unskilled may infact creep up, but that doesn't bother be because as a society, we should be getting better and more efficient. It also doesn't bother me because I am the owner, so I will never outsourse my own job, or the jobs I provide for my family/friends. But the jobs of the unskilled, that is for me to decide. Lastly, I am highly educated so I will also be skilled. I have a JD/MBA from a canadian university, in addition to a Computer Engineering degree and numerous certifications. I invested in myself so that I would not be a vunrable worker. The unskilled could have too, but they didn't. That is why they have very little to offer employers. I do not see how the problem is me. Yes, I could still pay more, and turn a profit. But why would I not want to make more profit. Why do you think workers are ENTITLED to a share of my profits. It is comments like your that lead guys like me to pay engineers hundreds of thousands of dollars to eliminate jobs. Confiscate my wealth and throw me in jail and allow the workers to run the company? How does that even make sense. That is unconstitutional (again, I have a JD) and plain stupid. SOunfs like communism to me. It is my company, and I am allow to do what I want. If workers want a decent living, then I am happy to provide to them IF and ONLY IF they have something to offer that warrant a wage that facilitates a decent wage. You say that it would lead to a healthier, and higer employment in the economy, but I disagree. Such a policy would lead people like me to move ALL jobs to a country where it would not be confiscated. And also, if the workers were to pay themselves at levels that would give a decent living, then a competitior from another country with open up and under cut the Canadians. And guess what, that guy might be me. The point is that the Canadian economy can succeed while the jobs of the unskilled are destroyed or offshored. There has to be a middle class, but there is nothing that says that you, or I, or the unskilled needs to be part of the middle class. As long as there is a middle class, Canada will be fine. The doom and gloom is being said by those who are being left behind, when the reality is that the economy is fine and many many people are making more as a result of the recession. THe economy is in transition, and there will be winners and losers. Those who complain the most are likely the losers.

  • Response to RW
    January 17, 2012 - 07:58

    RW said: "My, My... Don't you know that it is illegal to have someone do the "work for FREE as part of their degree/diploma program" when it takes away a paying job? Maybe it's best that employers like you go to China or India."................well actually RW, it is perfectly legal IF and only IF the free work is tied directly to credits that are part of a degree/diploma program. I am certain of this, because I actually used to do the free employee thing and got fined, and then came up with of tying the free work to credit programs specifically to get around the law. As such, I am not doing anything illegal.

    • RW
      January 17, 2012 - 12:40

      You came up with of tying the free work to credit programs specifically to get around the law? (By the way... that error in grammar is yours, as I copied it directly from your comment!) You may not be doing anything illegal, because I don't know what kind of scam you came up with, but... it IS immoral! Please do us all a favour and take your business elsewhere... Canadian workers and I emphasize the word workers because I did a hell of a lot of it in my time, really don't need or want employers like you around. Is it people like YOU who decide just how hard someone works, or how skilled they actually are? We really ARE in trouble then! Go ahead and rape someone else's work force.

  • Purple Library Guy
    January 17, 2012 - 04:12

    Well, nameless capitalist fellow, while I can understand your motivation (gimme) and how it logically takes you personally where you're going, I see two problems in the broader picture. First problem: You talk about unskilled labour being superseded in the modern economy, but you still want that unskilled labour to be performed. It still needs to be done. The only reason you can arbitrage it is the existence of places with fairly high levels of unemployment and minimal or nonexistent social safety nets. But it remains true that when you (and many others) make use of this situation to employ large numbers of people at very low wages, it reduces the overall effective demand of the workforce, meaning fewer products are gonna get sold. Over time this will lead to declining production, further declining employment, even more desperate workers who you can pay even less; indeed, the line of who counts as "unskilled" may creep upwards--and all this further reduces effective demand. It's a vicious cycle. So no, this kind of thing isn't ultimately sustainable even if you split off "unskilled" workers. Which leads to the second issue: Given this analysis, the real problem here is you. You yourself have said your enterprise could function while paying higher wages, you just wouldn't get as personally rich. Your rational personal maximizing kills the economy. So the logical thing for the public in any given country to do would be to round up all of your sort, take away your companies and hand them to the workers, confiscate your wealth and throw you in jail. Then the workers could run the place and would pay themselves at levels that would maintain their jobs but allow them to make a decent living, which in turn would sustain demand and lead to a healthier, higher employment economy.

  • sealcove
    January 16, 2012 - 21:07

    well the greed runs deep,Any job in this country could be sent of shore i would not be to cocky

  • Response to Paul
    January 16, 2012 - 19:49

    Paul said: One thing people like you never address is whether you believe a growing gap between the rich few and the rest is a sustainable trend. It's not just about "worK' and getting paid what someone like you thinks people are worth (much less than you, right?). It's also about dignity and the fact that if people who work don't get enough money to live a decent life, then your system is doomed to fail./.............................well Paul, here is my answer........ I do believe that a growing gap with the rich and the rest is NOT sustainable, but I don't beleive that a growing gap between the unskilled and the rest of the workforce is a problem. And I also don't think that the demise of the unskilled is indicative of society changing. Our economy no longer values the hard day of work by the unskilled and uneducated workers. And I agree with this. THe economy has changed, and workers of all stripes have to have the skills and education that employers want. SHowing up and putting in a good day of work is honourable, but if the guy stand next to you, or living on the other side of the border will do it for less, then I'd be a fool to pay the canadian wage. It actually IS about getting paid what someone like me thinks, because I am one of the many employers in Canada. I can't speak for the rest, but when looking for unskilled workers, I want to pay as little as possible. And YES, I realize that my workers may not be able to afford a decent life, but you need to realize that there are other people who would happily do the job for less. Heck, I have arrangement with many colleges and universities where students come in and work for FREE as part of their degree/diploma program. I actually had to fire paid workers to make room for the student, but I was happy to do so. The point is the unskilled no longer have enough to justifty their presence in the middle class....they are being pushed out to make room for the educated and skilled workers. I absolutely agree with any and everyone who states the importance of the middle class, but I firmly believe that the unskilled and uneducated workers of Canada (most of them anyway) no longer have anything to offer employers that justifies the wages stipulated by law in Canada. As such, it is only smart and efficient economics, as a company, to do as much of your unskilled work abroad. My system will not fail as long as someone exists to buy goods and services, but nothing, really nothing, indicates that unskilled and uneducated workers are necessary to the economy....the middle class is necessary, but not the unskilled worker. What we are seeing is a seperation of the two, and I welcome the change.

    • RW
      January 16, 2012 - 22:22

      My, My... Don't you know that it is illegal to have someone do the "work for FREE as part of their degree/diploma program" when it takes away a paying job? Maybe it's best that employers like you go to China or India.

  • Carl
    January 16, 2012 - 17:30

    I don't know how many working days Ms. Payne has each year, but I have at least 248 - not counting weekends and stat holidays, which I often work as well. So there's something wrong with her math when she says a CEO making 189 times the average worker's pay makes more than an average worker by noon on the first work day of the year. In order for her math to be correct, there would have to be only 94.5 working days in the year. But socialists are never very good at math. That's why they should never be allowed to run Canada's economy.

    January 16, 2012 - 15:42

    as the title says, some workers are not even worth 2 dollars a day. Some people have nothing to offer that is worth more than 2 dollars. It is sad, but it is true. It depends on the nature of the job. Why would I pay a Canadian $10 dollars an hour to do a job that someone else do for $2 dollars a day. In my case, it was actually $10/hour for a Canadian worker vs. $3.50 a DAY aborad. Naturally, I went with the offshore solution. On any day of the week, no matter how much money I am making, I will happily hire cheaper workers. Why wouldn't I? I will gladly pay high wages and provide benefits to the engineers that I employ, and my accountants, lawyers, IT people, vice president and really any one of my workers that has skills and education that make them valuable to the company. The unskilled works are a dime a dozen. They are like USB keys, to plug and play as needed. There is no need to provide wage increase or pensions or health benefits to unskilled workers because there is always another unskilled worker who will work for less. A US state responded to a request for proposal to indicate to me that they have a workforce that would work for almost 45% less in wages, and that they would give me tax breaks, business grants and a sweetheart deal if I were to move my office to their state. Essesntially, I put out an add seeking cities and states in the US that would be interested in competing to be the lcoation for a company office. SO I looked at my company (one of them), and certainly didn't want to move MY job, or my brother's job, or my wife's job, or the jobs of other family and friends. So I made a list, sorted my employees into core employees and unskilled workers. As you can guess, I moved the jobs of the unskilled workers to the US, took advantage of the tax breaks and grants and the lower wage (and taxes) and made my business more effective. And the workers in the US, they were not any better or worse than my former Canadian workers. I used to pay 45% more in wages and what was I getting for it? Now I see that I was getting nothing. ANd in 5 years, another state will make me an offer, and I will move my jobs to that state. The point is that Canadian unskilled workers simply cost too much, and in times of restraint, it is only natural that you do not cut the wages of those that are vital (the skilled and educated workers). Rather, cut the wages of the unskilled becuase there is nothing really special about them to worry about losing, and there are many unskilled workers looking for work. I would happily move these jobs to any Canadian province if they would offer me fiscal conditions that are comparable to what is offered in the US. Other than that, unskilled workers will continue to lose because they have nothing to offer that is worth the Canadian minimum wage to most employers. It is sad to say, but the reality it that it is true.

    • Paul
      January 16, 2012 - 19:23

      One thing people like you never address is whether you believe a growing gap between the rich few and the rest is a sustainable trend. It's not just about "worK' and getting paid what someone like you thinks people are worth (much less than you, right?). It's also about dignity and the fact that if people who work don't get enough money to live a decent life, then your system is doomed to fail.

    January 14, 2012 - 23:00

    Why would any business pay Canadian workers more when they could pay less to foreign workers to do the same job? what are businesses getting by paying the current canadian wages. I support the businesss in locking out these worker and do hope that the businesses move the jobs to the US where the workers are GRATEFUL to work for less. That is what I did and plan to do again in 2012. Workers who have specialized skills and education certainly deserve wages premiums and benefits. Unskilled workers on the otherhand, as far as I am concerned, minimum wage is too much. The same quality of work is available abroad for a faction of the cost.

    • Paul
      January 16, 2012 - 14:00

      We cannot all live on 2 dollars a day. That's where this race to the bottom wants to take us. much is enough for unskilled workers if the minimum wage is too much?