Crack corporate coffers and pay workers better, union head urges companies

A prominent labour leader is calling out corporate Canada for relying on cheap labour like unpaid interns and temporary foreign workers while sitting on huge cash reserves and heaping pay on CEOs.

OTTAWA — A prominent labour leader is calling out corporate Canada for relying on cheap labour like unpaid interns and temporary foreign workers while sitting on huge cash reserves and heaping pay on CEOs.

Jerry Dias, the president of Unifor, Canada’s largest private-sector union, says it’s ridiculous that corporate CEOs collect millions in salary while some of their staff members are poorly paid — if at all.

Meanwhile, the number of minimum wage and part-time jobs in Canada is steadily increasing, according to Statistics Canada.

And a recent study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives found that CEO pay for Canadian companies on the Toronto Stock Exchange grew 73 per cent between 1998 and 2012.

The International Monetary Fund also says Canadian companies have been accumulating cash reserves — so-called “dead money” — faster than any other country in the G7.

The controversy over temporary foreign workers has prompted Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Employment Minister Jason Kenney to chide companies for failing to raise wages or invest in employee training.

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