In Ontario over the last several months, the “Campaign to Raise the Minimum Wage” has built considerable pressure on the Wynne Liberals to raise the minimum wage to $14/hr from their current poverty rate of $10.25.
On the Jan. 24‑25 weekend, activists, local campaigns and supporting organizations convened in Toronto to discuss the way forward and hear from successful campaigns in the United States.
Under the slogan, “Fair Wages Now”, and “You deserve a raise”, the campaign has been successful in organizing days of actions around different themes on the 14th of every month, in dozens of communities, for the past several months.
Recently the Toronto Star has come out in favour of the raising the minimum wage, and the “Minimum Wage Advisory Panel” which was created by the Wynne Liberals almost a year ago, is expected to report their findings. The campaign has been focusing much of its message on the panel, and it hopes that their recommendations will be adopted.
While the public has rallied around the demands of the campaign, and it has unified grassroots poverty and labour activists across the country with a success that is rare in Ontario, there is still a battle to make sure that Wynne and her government can’t shelve the report and shut out the campaign with the buzz of an election, where it looks like none of the major parties are supporting the demands of the campaign.
How can we take it to the next level and build a very successful campaign into a movement that can’t be ignored by the parties in Queen’s Park – the very parties who are supported by large employers who benefit from poverty wages. It’s possible, but requires even greater militancy and unity from the campaign, anti‑poverty groups and the labour movement as a whole across Ontario. It is also important that if an election is called, that the campaign step up its work, and resist the tendency to give up its independent voice to a lesser‑evil political party, that ultimately won’t deliver on the demands of the campaign.
The guests from south of the border attending the meetings included representatives from the historic “Fight for 15” fast‑food worker strikes, and from “Working Washington” which recently won a $15/hr wage at the Seattle‑Tacoma airport.
Join the fight for a $14 minimum wage! Get in touch with the campaign through the website www.raisetheminimumwage.ca or find your local chapter.
(The above article is from the February 1-14, 2014, issue of People’s Voice, Canada’s leading socialist newspaper. Articles can be reprinted free if the source is credited. Subscription rates in Canada: $30/year, or $15 low income rate; for U.S. readers – $45 US per year; other overseas readers – $45 US or $50 CDN per year. Send to People’s Voice, c/o PV Business Manager, 706 Clark Drive, Vancouver, BC, V5L 3J1.)