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Short people.

An 18th Century brewery

Remember that popular song "Short People"? Well maybe you're not old enough to remember the 70's too well. Anyway the provisional assertion of the song was that "Short people got no reason to live", but then of course, the song corrects this line of thought with the answering refrain: "Short people are just the same as you and I, All men are brothers till the day we die".

Obviously the point of the song is that if we are allowed to pick off specific minorities for special inferior treatment or oppression, then we are all vulnerable, for there is no end to the ways in which we can divide humanity into various groups.

It kind of reminds one of that old union saw; "An injury to one is an injury to all".

Now according to the British Columbia Human Rights Code:

"A person must not ... discriminate against a person regarding ... any terms or conditions of employment, ... because of the race, colour, place of origin, political belief, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, or age of that person or because that person has been convicted of a criminal or summary conviction that is unrelated to the employment or to the intended employment of that person." http://www.bchrt.gov.bc.ca/employme1.htm

But you will notice that it doesn't say anything about short people. Does that mean that it's ok to treat short people differently, to give them lesser wages or poorer benefits just because they are not mentioned in the Human Rights Code?

Of course not! We all know that to use discrimination to treat people unfairly and unjustly is fundamentally unfair and unjust and it makes no difference whether injustice is applied to an individual or a group, it is still unjust and injustice is not to be tolerated.

Now because some people may think that the 'short people' example is a rather facetious one, lets take a look at a real life example, lets take a look at a particular brewery in Western Canada, MOLSON in Vancouver B.C.

At this operation MOLSON discriminates between what they call regular and seasonal employees. There are numerous jobs in the bargaining unit but the following is a fairly representative example of the type of discrimination to be found here.

A machine operator who is classed as a regular receives $25.58/hour (Canadian dollars) plus all negotiated benefits. But...
A machine operator who is classed as a seasonal receives only $19.09/hour and a few menial benefits that border on the insulting.

Here we have a classic case of unfair and unjust discrimination; the so-called seasonals operate the same machines in the exact same locations as the so-called regulars and under exactly the same working conditions.

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The term seasonal in this case is misleading since many of the seasonals work on a quite regular basis often achieving more straight time hours per year than many of the regulars, but even if this was not the case, can someone please explain to me why the same work would not require the same pay and benefits.

Seniority is not even close to a bona fide consideration here as many of the so-called seasonals actually have more seniority (often years more) than some of the so-called regulars. I launched a grievance on this issue, but all that has happened since, as far as I know, is that the company has managed to get the contract changed to further entrench its position.

Yes fellow workers it's a classic case of the two-tier system where the minority gets screwed real good. And the company laughs all the way to the bank with its ill-gotten loot.

Joyce Lain Kennedy is a syndicated newspaper columnist who has written half a dozen or more career books including several in the well-known "DUMMIES" series. Here's what she has to say about Two-Tier Pay Inequity:

Americans loathe unfairness. Being ethical includes having a sense of what's just and fair and most people think "like work demands like pay." Three examples briefly illustrate:

Remember the two-tier pay system controversy associated with the airlines? The two-tier heyday was in the 1980s, when airlines seeking to increase profitability sought to pay new pilots about half of what current pilots earned. But market forces and a good economy in the 1990s ended that managerial misstep.

Think back a few years ago to the uproar caused by a United Parcel Service strike when part-timers were fed up with a two-tier system that paid them about half the rate of full-time core workers for the same tasks in many cases.

And of course, the cry for equal pay for equal work, in a gender version, fuelled the Equal Pay Act of 1963.

You can find Joyce's home page at; http://www.sunfeatures.com/index.html

It's interesting that Joyce calls this sort of thing a managerial misstep. When one considers the kind of ill repute that this kind of draconian 18th century policy can bring upon a company, it seems more to me like gross managerial incompetence.

Here's to an ethical brewery.
John Barker

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October 2002