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Tradespeople report not getting paid Yukon's Fair Wage by contractors

Yukon labour groups say some tradespeople working on public-tendered projects aren't being paid according to the Fair Wage Schedule published by the Yukon government.

Territory's Fair Wage Schedule applies to people working on Yukon public-tendered projects

The Yukon Federation of Labour says it has heard multiple complaints of publicly-funded projects paying less than what's required under the Yukon's Fair Wage Schedule. (Philippe Morin)

Yukon labour groups are advising tradespeople to know what they're supposed to be paid when they work on territorial public works projects and to file a complaint if they're offered less.

The United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 310 has received multiple complaints of contractors on public sector projects not following the territory's Fair Wage Schedule, according to Marc Gagné, the union's business manager.

The Fair Wage Schedule is published every year by the Yukon government. It sets pay rates for different levels of trades and it applies to general contractors and sub-contractors who employ workers on Yukon government public tender projects.

Gagné says a company called Pitt Meadows Plumbing and Mechanical Systems Ltd recently advertised in Yukon for journeyperson mechanical workers for the new extended-care facility in Whistle Bend.

The offered wage was $28 an hour — $4.13 less than what's mandated by Yukon's Fair Wage Schedule.

"It's illegal and in breach of contract under Yukon procurement rules," Gagne says.

The company could not be reached for comment.

Justin Lemphers, president of the Yukon Federation of Labour, says he's heard similar complaints in the past year.

"It's in the construction trades and they see a lot of it," he says.

The Federation of Labour is asking workers to be aware of recent complaints and to check their pay stubs.  

"The information I have suggests that there are some 'frequent fliers' and some companies have been known to advertise wages that are less than the fair wage schedule on a regular basis," Lemphers says.

He adds that workers may not be coming forward because they don't understand the Fair Wage Schedule or feel pressure to accept what's offered.

"Sometimes workers may feel that their employment is precarious and there may be reasons that they might not come forward to complain," he says.

Anonymous complaints possible

Lemphers says workers can complain anonymously to Yukon's Employment Standards Board. The board can pull pay stubs and perform audits to ensure that workers are being paid what they are legally owed.

Gagné says some workers have taken their case to the Employment Standards Board in the past year.

However, it's unclear what was decided. The board's decisions are meant to be public but the legal library in Whitehorse has not received copies of new decisions in more than a year. CBC News is still working to access recent decisions.

MLA Kate White (right) has pledged to raise this issue in the legislative assembly. "I believe it's the government's responsibility to ensure that any contractor working on a government job is following the rules," she says.

MLA pledges to raise issue in legislative assembly

New Democrat MLA Kate White is asking the Yukon government to look into the issue. She says one worker approached her requesting anonymity, saying they were offered $8 an hour less than the scheduled wage on a government-funded project.

"I believe it's the government's responsibility to ensure that any contractor working on a government job is following the rules," White says.

Under current law, contractors' wages are only reviewed by the territorial government when a company applies for the territory's Business Incentive Program.

Yukon's Liberal government has not yet responded to calls for comment. However Gagné says the territory's new deputy premier has promised to arrange a meeting with labour groups to discuss the issue.

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