Garment workers at Winnipeg factory hit picket line – Winnipeg Free Press

Garment workers at a Winnipeg factory picketed Monday, citing inflation as a need for higher wages.

Forty-eight sewing machine operators for Freed & Freed, a jacket maker, want to raise their minimum wage earnings – a 30-cent-an-hour increase, now and when the current minimum wage hits $13.50 in October , said Andrew Spence, representative of the Workers United Canada Council.

The union and Freed & Freed have been in contract negotiations since December 2019 — with pauses during the pandemic — Spence said.

“It’s a company that’s been around for…100 years, and they’ve managed to survive,” Spence said. “Employees need to be able to survive.

Freed & Freed has made several proposals, including salary increases, said Marissa Freed, president of the company. The latest, over the weekend, offered a pay rise of 45 cents, topping the pay of other apparel makers, she said.

However, the union did not present the final offer to the workers because it did not accept the agreement, Spence said.

“We think (the workers) would have actually agreed,” Freed said. “We don’t think they really know about our most recent offering.”

She said the union was looking “way beyond” the 30-cent wage hike, though she wouldn’t elaborate.

Freed & Freed sewing machine operators Amandeep Sandhu and Florencia Canpos were on strike for 30-cent-an-hour wage increases on Monday. Inflation has made life unaffordable, they said.

“Everything is so expensive,” said Sandhu, a single mother. “I can’t survive…minimum wage, because of (the) cost of childcare for my daughter. I don’t know how to manage. »

Canpos, 61, said she would like to retire soon but cannot.

“I’m doing this for (young workers) because they’re stuck on minimum wage,” Canpos said.

Both immigrated to Canada — Sandhu from India and Canpos from the Philippines. It’s common for the workers to be immigrant women, Spence said.

“(It) shows … other workers that these workers can (strike),” Spence said. “I think other people should also understand that this is what you have to do to get a raise.”

Freed said she believes her company is being used as a catalyst for workers at other manufacturing plants to strike because negotiations are underway or pending elsewhere in the city.

Staff earn more than minimum wage based on their production levels, Freed noted.

“I want everyone to feel valued and happy,” she said. “It’s a very unfortunate result, and I certainly hope we can overcome it.”

Workers plan to picket until a contract is signed, Spence said.

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Gabrielle Piche
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Gabby is a huge fan of people, writing and learning. She graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in the spring of 2020.

Michael O. Stutler