The Nova Scotia Federation of Labour represents 70,000 workers in Nova Scotia. These workers belong to several unions and come from almost 400 union locals across the province. As part of our mandate from the convention were resolutions on the fight for a $15-dollar minimum wage. Sadly, many union workers make less than $15 so will fight for them and others.
The Federation is working with other organizations on this important campaign. Social Justice Organizations like the Nova Scotia Fair Wage Coalition, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), the Canadian Federation of Students nationally and the Nova Scotia chapter, the Halifax & District Labour Council and the Nova Scotia NDP.
Talk to anyone making the current minimum wage and I am sure they would tell you about how they struggle to get by. A $15 an hour wage would give some dignity back to the estimated 6000 workers making minimum wage in NS. Those struggling just to pay the bills day in and day out just, to allow them to take care of the essential needs like food, clothing shelter.
Just imagine what those numbers are for all those making less than $15 per hour. I am sure that would be much higher than 6000; I would bet that at least ½ our population of workers employed make less than $15 per hour and make poverty line wages. What about the hundreds of people in our province who are struggling to pay for heat, lights and hot water for less than $15 or those on a fixed income?
We joined this fight because people deserve better. We know we can do better and must do more to lift people from poverty. Yes, it is nice to see our province’s minimum wage rates adjusted annually based on the previous year’s national Consumer Price Index.
Now we must work to have the provincial minimum wage panel to get back up and running. The government now has several committees under review and sitting in abeyance. That’s not right when we have so much to do. Labour must have a representative on these committees, a person selected by the Federation. These committees must be allowed to have a proper analysis and consultation process to develop a strategy with targets.
The Alberta NDP government announced a plan to achieve a $15 provincial minimum wage by 2018, and we can and should do the same in Nova Scotia.