Much opposition has been stirred after a Bill to amend the Labor Act was passed in the House of Representatives on August 14. This Bill allows employers and employees to agree on a reduction of wages in instances where working hours have also been reduced, as well as to provide exemptions from periods of rest. Yesterday we gave you an overview of objections made by Attorney Audrey Matura. Today she went into detail on her concerns and what she feels need to be adjusted to make the Bill fair to both employers and employees.
Matura also stated that a bill such as this should have included consultations with other stakeholders, and should not have been rushed.
Audrey Matura, Attorney: “This government seems to be a government of ambush. Yes these are different times but that is no justification for them not to consult. This legislation has lasting effect. We suspect and I calculate and agree with the experts and other pundits that this coronavirus economic crisis may be with us up to another two or three years so this legislation may be applied for another two or three years. The economy is worse than our government is saying. There are more unemployed people and there will be more unemployed, businesses are negatively impacted. So for something like this that is gonna shake up the very basis of the economy of the country and the well being of people that should have never been passed over night without consultation it’s absolutely ridiculous and irresponsible of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet to do this. It’s an outright ambush against employees and I’m hoping now that people are against it that there would be move to improve it, that their interest is genuine because like I said this will be years and employees this is when you have to come together. It’s only that you can do, come together, by yourself you can’t fight it. You imagine your employer tell you “Well sorry Courtney I know I used to hire you so much hours but we’re only hiring you this amount of hours and this is your salary now.” what will you do ? You don’t even have a union you know ? It’s simple things like that.”
Amid the Covid-19 pandemic it is well known that companies have cut staff, salaries and overtime. According to Matura this is an alarming situation as certain businesses may be taking advantage of their employees by cutting salaries when they are not losing revenue.
Audrey Matura, Attorney: “There’s no limit. It could have said that an employer cannot take away more than one third of your salary you know ? Suppose your employer says “I’m sorry it’s by half”? And it doesn’t even say that okay when we don’t reach agreement we can go to the Labor Department or that the Labor Department has to sanction the agreement it doesn’t say that. So it’s dangerous trust me it’s dangerous. The application is dangerous. I could just look at it as an employer and I could see where I could take advantage of my employees you know ? It’s not fair and I think there are work places that don’t require it right now any cuts because lets be honest the places that are making all the money right now anything that deals with selling food and I’m talking supermarkets and grocers and so not restaurants where those are severely affected but anything dealing with selling food right now anything that is basic necessity is still making money. Those industries that are still operating during the state of emergency that still operate twenty four seven those cannot come and say “Oh we’re not making money.” those in the medical field are still making money as a matter of fact because of what’s going on people are going more to deal with their medical issues, those in the insurance field they’re still making money because people are making sure that they have their items insured. So there are areas that are still making money and are making more money than even before so you can’t come and then say say “Oh we can’t pay our employees.” As a matter of fact prices for vegetables, for natural products have even gone up so they can’t come and say we’re not making money. Export is still going out. If you want to come and say we’re not doing you have to open your books, it has to be clear you have to show true financials and to imagine a poor employee who is barely a clerk at a supermarket can’t even figure that out how do you open your financials to them ? It’s an injustice.”
Matura encourages all employees to ensure that conversations relating to salary deduction and a change in hours be put in writing, or recorded, as it will be beneficial in the future and can be used as evidence in court if the situation progresses in such a manner.