By Richard J. Brennan, Toronto Star, December 4, 2013
Tory Leader Tim Hudak says if elected he will target public sector workers, including stripping news hires of their “gold plated” pensions that private sectors workers only dream of.
Hudak on Wednesday reinforced his political position of pitting unionized private sector workers against those unionized workers in the greater public sector, who he says have had it too good for too long.
Speaking to reporters at Queen’s Park, he blamed the burgeoning public sector on the series of Liberal governments, whose policies “have actually divided Ontario between public sector have and private sector have-nots.”
Hudak said pumping more into public sector salaries and pensions is driving investors away.
“Job creators won’t come to Ontario or they won’t grow in Ontario if they worry that there is going to be so much debt in the province to pay for unaffordable increases for government workers, to pay for gold plated pensions that they don’t even dream of in the private sector,” he said.
“If (the private sector unions) have all moved toward what is effectively a two-tier pension . . . shouldn’t it happen in government too.”
Hudak noted that 100,000 well paid, unionized private sector jobs have been lost in Ontario, while public sector jobs have jumped by about 300,000.
“I simply cannot justify to the unionized machinist who has lost his job that he has to pay more and more taxes to give government workers a 3 per cent raise and gold plate pensions,” he said.
“So what do you do? A freeze for government pay and bonuses, a freeze in the giveaways to government workers and grow the private sector for more middle class jobs and better take home pay.”
While Hudak said he wants to set the stage for more unionized private sector jobs, his party’s policies call for making it easier for workers to avoid joining unions.
Hudak says his party is committed to reducing the size of government, “there will be fewer people on the government payroll.” He, however, won’t say how many jobs a Progressive Conservative government would cut.
“I think the Smokey Thomases, the government union bosses, are going to fight it tooth and nail. And I don’t blame them because they’ve got it pretty good right now . . . I don’t blame them because that’s what Smokey Thomas is paid to do. I blame the government for caving in each and every time,” he said, referring to Ontario Public Service Employees Union president Warren (Smokey) Thomas.
Thomas told the Star that Hudak is doing more to unite organized labour than so-called union bosses ever could.
“He is just bringing more and more attention to the fact that he hates working people and unions. He really is uniting us. I have had more conversations with labour leaders in the last six months than I have in six years,” he said, noting that his union’s slick video castigating U.S. style right to work legislation has been shown across the country.