Premier Dalton McGuinty's vow to bring wage freezes to more public sector workers doesn't come as a shock to workers, a union representative says.
“It's certainly no surprise,” said Mike Grimaldi, regional vice-president for the Ontario Public Service Employees Union region two, which represents Hamilton workers.
“Clearly McGuinty has lost track about what his government is about.”
McGuinty says wage freezes are necessary to tackle Ontario's $15-billion deficit, and that he won't back away from his decision to freeze compensation as his government negotiates with civil servants whose collective agreements are about to expire.
He says the province may not be able to get a pay freeze through negotiation and is prepared to legislate it if need be.
Calls to McGuinty's office by CBC Hamilton Friday were not immediately returned.
Grimaldi says that wage freezes will hurt Hamilton and the province.
“Wage freezes and layoffs hurt the community because wage earners run the economy,” he said. “If money doesn't transfer through them to the economy, it doesn't pick back up."
Grimaldi says public sector workers are upset over a lot of things happening in Ontario, pointing to the work stoppage at the Hamilton-Wentworth Detention Centre as an example.
“We're continually being told to do more with less.”
Grimaldi reiterated that public service workers include firefighters and health and safty inspectors — that they're not just faceless government employees sitting behind a desk. He said the premier can expect a decisive push back on wage freezes from workers.
“He can make all the comments he wants, but he's got to negotiate that at a bargaining table.”
The Liberals have already angered some teachers by introducing a bill that would freeze wages and cut benefits, such as bankable sick days.
The controversial legislation is likely to become law with the support of the Progressive Conservatives.
With files from the Canadian Press