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Raise minimum wage, restore Grant's Law: young workers ask B.C government

05/04/2015 11:37 EDT | Updated 05/04/2016 05:12 EDT
Members of the B.C. Federation of Labour Young Workers' Committee met with lawmakers in Victoria on Monday to discuss the challenges young people face in the job market.

One of the main issues discussed was increasing the minimum wage to $15.

"Our living wage right now is just over $20 and the minimum wage is nowhere near that to help lift people above the poverty line," said Caitlin Davidson-King, chairperson of the B.C Federation of Labour Young Workers' Committee.  

"When they have money to spend in the economy, it will help build the economy."

The committee also spoke to government officials about restoring funding to adult basic education.

"It was there. It was free for a long period of time. When it was cut, it didn't give young workers the ability to go back to school and do upgrades, said Davidson-King.

"That isn't available to them unless they want to pay just over $300 a course."

Davidson-King acknowledges grants are available to lower the financial burden, but says only low-income earners making $11.37 per hour or less are eligible.

"It still doesn't help lift people above the poverty line," said Davidson-King.

Reinstating Grant's Law

The committee also continued their advocacy for the reinstatement of Grant's Law, named after Grant De Patie, a young Maple Ridge gas station attendant who was killed trying to prevent a robbery in 2005.  

The law initially required late-night workers to either be physically separated from the public with a locked door or to work in pairs. But in 2012 the regulation was changed, giving employers a third option: requiring time lock safes for cash, surveillance systems, personal emergency transmitters and regular security audits.

"[It] does not protect late night workers when there is an emergency at hand," said Davidson-King. "We had three sit-ins in the last three years...to mark the memory of Grant's law being watered down."

While Davidson-King thinks government officials were receptive to their message, she says it is important to maintain pressure and spread awareness.

To hear the full interview, listen to the audio labelled Advocating for young workers.

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