Freezing Private Sector Exec Pay

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SEIU Canada
SEIU Canada

Toronto Sharing the pain is taking on a new meaning in Ontario, Canada’s biggest province, where there are 1 million public employees now enduring a proposed 2-year wage freeze as part of the Liberal party government anti-recessionary measures, and recently the Finance Minister publically agreed that some of these same wage controls should extend to the private sector, specifically the for profit health and nursing companies that are reimbursed by the government for care.

Union leaders representing tens of thousands of private sector health care workers, like Jacob Leibovitch of SEIU Canada and Ken Lewenza, head of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) have jumped into the mess arguing that the pill would have to be swallowed at the top not just at the bottom.  CAW argues that private companies should be exempted, but when all of the dollars come from public reimbursements it’s hard to argue very long that private companies “should not be part of public policy,” as Lewenza told the Globe and Mail last month.  SEIU’s Leibovitch seems to be beating the drum more clearly that the private companies would have bear the brunt as well.

“The companies know if they refuse to get on board, it could sink one of the province’s flagship policies,” said Jacob Leibovitch, executive director of SEIU Canada, which represents 50,000 health-care workers in Ontario. He said that the idea of a suspension, freeze or cut of the payouts that the nursing home companies make to their investors has also been floated.

The big Ontario private for profit health operations include Extendicare, a huge US-based outfit and Chartwell.  You better know there’s some fierce lobbying going on to keep high flying executives and bonus babies from having to freeze their wages!

They will get little sympathy though.  59% of Canadian workers on a payroll survey reported this week indicated they would be in hot water if their checks were delayed by even a week.  More workers are saving, and even those polled that are hopeful of a raise this year, believe that cost of living will eat it up.  Canadian workers essentially believe they are threading water and in the distance seem to see a tsunami of household debt coming their way as they race for high crowd.

When even the business-based Liberals start saying executives are going to have to share the pain, you can tell that the mood is turning surly at the pay window here in the north.