April 17, 2007
Fair Wage Policy now under review
An “out-of-date” fair wage policy (FWP) is undergoing an independent review by the Ontario government, which has members of the construction industry saying, “it’s about time.”
The FWP applies to services within the ICI sector valued at $100,000 or more. Also included are road building projects valued at $160,000 or more and sewer and watermain projects, regardless of their value.
The last time the policy was revised was in 1995, a fact that has the industry concerned about a thriving underground economy.
“Having an updated, enhanced and progressive fair wage policy does a lot to combat the negative impact of the underground economy,” said Steven Del Duca, director of public affairs for the Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario.
The underground economy bilks millions of dollars out of the construction industry each year, a problem that can be solved by simply revising regulations to modern terms, say Del Duca.
“Balancing competition amongst those employers or contractors who may be looking for public sector work is important,” Del Duca adds. “The last thing anybody wants is to have contractors undercutting their competitors at the expense of working men and women.”
A non-union organization, the Open Shop Contractors, applauded the FWP review, as long as the government is not just looking to increase rates to “bolster trade unionism.”
“The policy has been on the books for many years,” said Arthur Potts, OSCA’s vice president of government relations. “When regulations like that are not kept up to date, they are prone to disrespect.”
The OSCA, which represents open shop interests, hopes to be involved in the stakeholders’ discussions.
“I would certainly anticipate the government would want us at the table and I am sure we’d be welcome at the table,” said Potts.
“And if it turns out that the time is no longer necessary to have these kinds of policies, I would hope the government is open to that discussion.”
The review of the FWP will be conducted independently by University of Toronto professor Morley Gunderson, from the Centre of Industrial Relations.
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