CEOs are overpaid, not workers

TheStar.com – Opinion/Letters – Re: The real cause of economic inequality, Letter, Aug. 3
Published On Fri Aug 06 2010.   John Cartwright, President, Toronto & York Region Labour Council

K. McIllvray’s argument that public sector workers are the cause of inequality in Canada is utterly false.

Let’s look at what public sector wages pay for. They pay for firefighters who keep us safe, teachers who help our children learn how to read, write, and think for themselves, nurses who help our loved ones fight disease, and child-care workers who mind our toddlers and infants. s

Public sector workers are the life, blood and backbone of public services, not some expensive and unnecessary addition as McIllvray implies.

He is also wrong when he says government workers have been “completely unaffected” by recession. In fact, the real wages of Canadian workers have been stagnant for 30 years, and that includes public sector workers.

The biggest inequity in Canada is the growing spread between working families and corporate CEOs.

In 1995 the average pay of Canada’s highest paid 50 CEOs was $2.66 million, 85 times the average worker’s pay. By 2008, the average pay of the same group of CEOs had skyrocketed to 234 times the pay of the average worker.

The inequity keeps growing.

Profitable corporations are still squeezing employee wages, replacing permanent staff with temporary work, and shipping Canadian jobs overseas. And they are getting rewarded with massive tax breaks, which will eventually drain government revenue by $16 billion a year.

Access to good public services is crucial to our quality of life as Canadians, and good public services depend upon front line workers.

We need to challenge the race-to-the-bottom mentality. All workers — both private and public sector — have the right to earn a decent wage so they can live in dignity.

John Cartwright, President, Toronto & York Region Labour Council

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