Equal pay for equal work was long overdue

I just reread Lee Harding’s recent diatribe in The Advocate regarding equal pay for work of equal value.

The gentleman is certainly painting with a very broad brush on that topic.

Defining true equity pay for work of equal value is indeed complicated. Employers, conscious of their bottom line and profit levels, tend to make that their priority over improving fairness and equity for employees, which is only to be expected.

This has often meant that paycheques are as minimal as possible. And that tended to result in income for female employees being even less under the common belief that women would leave work to tend to children, or that women did not have the stamina or business acumen to do what the employer required.

Please, that is so 1950s! There was indeed general acceptance (even among women) that this was the normal state of affairs.

In case Harding missed it, we have definitely “come a long way, baby” since then. Which means women have been learning their true worth and value, and standing up for themselves in everyday life.

If, as Harding proposes, “race and sex issues are irrelevant to employers,” there ought to be no problems with income equity. What a lovely rosy picture that paints. Sadly, as many female employees can attest, we are very far from achieving that mindset in many employers.

Some of the problem arises from societal definitions of “men’s work” versus “women’s work,” a position still all too frequently taken in many areas, even in 2019. And none of that began to really change until that annoying movement called unions got rolling.

Unionization has many faults, including in some situations, actually becoming big business in and of itself. However, it is still the strongest method of ensuring fairness and pay equity in many types of work, be it for male or female workers.

I would say that the long and difficult process Judge Beverley McLachlin pursued, leading to pay equity for female postal employees (and retroactively at that) is not because she was acting as a woman, but because the courts and lawyers finally got the message that she was right.

And that will hopefully lead to even more equality in Canadian workplaces, promoting the prime minister’s vision of better things for our economy, our communities and our families.

Bonnie Denhaan, Red Deer

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