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Make minimum wage an election issue

By: 
Valerie Lannon

June 6, 2014

May 31 saw dozens of activists with the provincial Minimum Wage Campaign engaging Toronto residents at the busy intersection of Bloor and Dufferin streets. The objective was to make the demand for a $14 minimum wage an election issue, and it got media attention.
 
June 1 marked the day that the Liberals raised the hourly minimum age from $10.25 to $11.00, in no small part because of the tenacity of the provincial campaign.
 
Socialist.ca interviewed a number of campaigners, many of whom work for minimum wages themselves. A common reason for their participation in the campaign is the stress caused by having to live on such a low hourly wage.
 
Shi Ahilan said “$11 an hour is still below the poverty line, leaving people with empty pockets at the end of the month.  People we talk to support $14 an hour and are signing our petition. To win this, we need party leaders to also support us, which is why we are making this an election issue. The minimum wage affects all workers and is not just for part-time young workers, but also for adults raising families.”
 
The sentiment was echoed by Ian: “All the big corporations, whether Monsanto, Line 9, or mining companies… don’t care about our well-being.”
 
Elli Bedard noted “Everyone should have a living wage, above the poverty line.”
 
Labour was on hand to support the day’s action. Toronto and York Region Labour Council president John Cartwright stated, “Labour always supports raising the standard of living. So unions are joining with others to say we need $14 an hour now.”
 
If you like this article, come to next week's conference Marxism 2014: Resisting a System in Crisis. Sessions include "Why is capitalism in crisis", "After the election: taking on the anti-union threat", and "Rebuilding unions: a rank and file strategy."

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