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BC unions call for $13/hr minimum wage

VICTORIA (NEWS1130) – Union leaders are in Victoria today, calling on the BC government to raise the minimum wage to $13 an hour.

British Columbia Federation of Labour president Jim Sinclair says minimum wage, temporary foreign workers, and apprenticeships are on the agenda as labour leaders meet today with Shirley Bond, the minister responsible for labour.

More meetings are planned Wednesday with Premier Christy Clark.

BC’s current minimum hourly wage was increased to $10.25 in May, 2012, but Sinclair says it still isn’t enough to pay monthly bills. He says unions want the Liberal government to boost the wage to $13 an hour immediately, followed by annually adjusted cost of living increases.

Sinclair says unions will also ask Clark to adjust the current temporary foreign worker program to stop employers from using foreign workers to fill entry-level jobs at the expense of British Columbians entering the workforce.

John Winter with the BC Chamber of Commerce calls the request irresponsible. He says it would only make things more expensive for consumers.

“At the end of the day something like this would only result in our hamburgers and donuts and what not going to skyrocket prices to pay for it. It’s not what people want,” says Winter.

He says we’ve just come through a series of increases and it takes time for businesses to recover from that. “By increasing minimum wage to that extent all they’re really doing is hurting the people they expect to help. In other words, employers will only cut back on hours worked and they’ll cut back on the number of people employed and that really achieves absolutely nothing.”