FREDERICTON – The annual Labour Day picnic in Fredericton’s Wilmot Park brought out hundreds of people and dozens of unions from around the province.
The event is hosted by the Fredericton and District Labour Council, which thinks wages should be one of the top priorities in the upcoming provincial election.
“The current minimum wage is not a living wage,” said Alex Bailey, with the FDLC. “It’s a poverty wage, and we endorse raising the minimum wage to at least $15.”
The Liberals also talked about wages today. Leader Brian Gallant says if elected, he will raise the minimum wage to $10.30 an hour by the end of the year, and $11.00 by the end of 2017. Gallant says this would attract more people to the job market. The party also plans to tie the minimum wage to inflation by 2018, something the Green Party and NDP agree with.
“It is ridiculous people working full time at a job and not making enough to live on, living in poverty,” said David Coon, leader of the Green Party.
NDP leader Dominic Cardy also used the day to introduce his First-Contract Legislation.
“If you get a group of workers together in a workplace and they decide they want to join a union, there’s nothing that will actually make the employer sit down with them after they have gone through that legal process to negotiate their first contract,” Cardy said.
Meanwhile, in the Conservative camp, David Alward proposed a Tourism Marketing Fund that would be locally managed, bringing funds to individual communities and increasing jobs in tourism.
Going into this election, union leaders say labour day is the best time to think about where we want to be in the future.
“We have to ask ourselves what kind of society we want to live in,” said Bailey. “One where we’re all on our own, or one where we can help each other out? That’s the kind of place I’d like to live, and that’s kind of the message this Labour Day.” that together, fairness works.”