Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

July 23, 2009 15:14 ET

OPSEU: Protest by Student Workers Over Holiday Pay Spreads to Two More Parks

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - July 23, 2009) - Student workers at two parks on Lake Huron will join the fight against the McGuinty government's denial of vacation and holiday pay for its student employees.

The students, members of OPSEU Local 224, will distribute flyers to members of the public entering and leaving the parks on Saturday, July 25, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.:

MacGregor Point Provincial Park
Bruce Road 33, south of Port Elgin

Sauble Falls Provincial Park
Bruce Road 13, in between Oliphant and Sauble Beach.

The students are upset at the Ontario government's decision to stop paying them vacation and holiday pay, money they would receive by law if they worked for any other employer.

This means that students who work statutory holidays, as they are required to in the provincial parks, will receive no extra pay beyond their hourly wage. At least half of the government's student workforce in the summer earns Ontario's minimum wage, $9.50 an hour.

The government's action will cost students between $400 and $600 over the summer, the equivalent of one month's rent or the cost of textbooks for one semester.

Many of the students signed contracts in May which said they would get vacation and holiday pay only to have the government subsequently send out a memorandum rescinding the payments.

The McGuinty government has stopped paying vacation and holiday pay to its student workers because its own legislation, the Employment Standards Act, exempts the Crown from a number of labour standards, including compensating workers for vacation and statutory holidays.

The leafleting of the public at the parks on Lake Huron follows similar actions at other provincial parks. Protests are planned at more parks on the Civic Holiday long weekend.

About 3,400 high school, college and university students work for the Ontario government each summer. Many government operations, such as the provincial parks, rely largely on student labour.

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