KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – At noon today about forty activists marched from the Central Library to the Spring Garden Road Tim Hortons in support of the National Day of Action called by the Fight for $15 and Fairness campaign.
Bosses in Ontario were not happy about this month’ implementation of a $14 minimum wage, a step towards the January 2018 raise to $15 per hour.
In what proved to be a highly unpopular move some Tim Hortons franchisees countered by cutting breaks and benefits of their workers, triggering countless rallies and other protests. Today’s rally was partly in solidarity with those Ontario workers.
This was the second such rally time this week, suggesting that perhaps momentum for a decent minimum wage is building in Nova Scotia.
“Workers in Ontario have won a $15 minimum wage, an incredible victory that is the result of their organizing in communities across Ontario, said Suzanne MacNeil, president of the Halifax-Dartmouth & DIstrict Labour Council, the organization that called for the rally.
“This victory in Ontario will come a long way in helping people on the lowest incomes. it will help them put food on the table for their families and pay their rent. It is an important step towards a living wage, so people can have some dignity and security in their lives,” said MacNeil.
The minimum wage in Nova Scotia, at $10.85 per hour, is the lowest in Canada.
A report issued by the provincial department of Labour and Advanced Education says that in 2015 an estimated 27,800 employees earned minimum wage in Nova Scotia, which is 7.1 % of all wage earning workers.
An additional 100,000 Nova Scotians struggle to make ends meet on less than $15 an hour.
10 percent of employed Nova Scotians used a food bank last year, according to the annual national Hunger Count.
Roughly 200 students each month use the Dalhousie food bank. Students are forced to choose between paying for food or paying for school, and all this while working. Students are also likely to earn minimum wage as they juggle jobs and studies.
A single Nova Scotia mother with three children, working full time while earning minimum wage, cannot afford to purchase a nutritious diet and maintain a basic standard of living. She would be short $823.03 each month, according to a 2012 FoodArc report.
People associated with the rally positioned themselves on nearby street corners to gather signatures for a petition.
The hope of the organizers is that the rally is a way to kick off a made in Nova Scotia $15 and Fairness campaign.
“We are of course asking people to sign the petition to send a message to the government, but we are also collecting contact info. We want to build this into a movement,” McNeil told the Nova Scotia Advocate.
“This is the lead up to an organizing meeting to go through some myth busting to hopefully have different groups take this on. In Ontario the Fight for $15 and Fairness campaign started off recruiting people one or two at the time, and look what they accomplished,” said McNeil.
Contact Suzanne MacNeil at firstname.lastname@example.org
See also Know your labour rights, our series on labour standards in Nova Scotia, written by Judy Haiven
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