Province raising pay for liquor servers and other alternate wage workers

Province raising pay for liquor servers and other alternate wage workers
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Liquor servers and other alternative wage workers will see a pay raise in an announcement by the province Thursday. Photo courtesy CBC.

Liquor servers and other alternative wage workers will see a pay raise in an announcement by the province Thursday. Photo courtesy CBC.

WATCH: Bar staff are raising a glass to a change brought in by the province Thursday. BC will gradually get ride of the alternative minimum wage as of June 1st, they will start to see incremental increases to the base amount they’re paid. Luisa Alvarez gets reaction from a Langford restaurant owner who says the hike is unjustified. 

A pay raise is coming to those who have jobs that pay less than the general minimum wage in an announcement from the province’s labour minister.

Harry Bains announced alternate minimum wage employees, including liquor servers, resident caretakers and live-in camp leaders, will all see gradual pay increases starting in June.

Piece-rate farm workers will also get a boost in pay starting in January.

“No one working for minimum wage, full-time, year-round should be living in poverty,” Bains said in a release.

Adrian Ortiz – Mena the owner of 900 Degrees Wood-Fired Pizzeria in Langford says servers can end up clearing  30$ an hour with tips and now restaurant owners will be forced to raise prices in order to offset the increase cost in labour.

“When companies are more productive or people are more productive that justifies a higher wage but from a government prospective just handing people money and having that be paid out by restaurant owners and small business owners that’s insane,” said Ortiz-Mena. 

Celebrating the increase Kaitlyn Matulewicz with Retail Action Network says the alternate minimum wage for servers reinforces a workplace culture rife with sexual harassment.

“Paying people poverty wages and below minimum wage can lead to some unfortunate situations where a server is put in a position of needing to tolerate and accept abuse from customers in order to get a tip,” said Matulewicz.

Liquor servers will see their current minimum pay rate of $10.10 an hour increase to $11.40 an hour June 1, and will incrementally reach $15.20 an hour by June 2021.

The NDP is also considering a recommendation from the Fair Wages Commission to examine food industry tipping practices.

That includes deciding when tips are considered wages, review using tips to enhance non-tipped workers’ pay and transparency of tipping practices.

B.C. is the first province to establish minimum wages for resident caretakers, who live and are employed in an apartment building of at least nine suites.

Wages will increase for those employees by 11.5 per cent June 1 starting at $759 a month to manage nine to 60 unit buildings, and $2,586 for those who operate apartments with over 60 units.

Beginning this year, live-in camp leaders will see annual increases each June for the next four years, starting with an 11.5 per cent hike in 2018.

Camp leaders employed by a charity or non-profit seasonal camp, will get more than $101 per day this June, which will rise to $121.65 in 2021.

Piece-rate farm workers that hand-harvest crops will get the 11.5 per cent pay hike January 1.

The province says a transitional period for changes to farm employee pay is in place to balance the needs of workers and the agriculture industry.

“This is a critical industry for B.C. and we want to make sure any changes made help give it the strong, sustainable future it deserves,” Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said.

“We believe everyone who contributes to this industry should have their say as we move toward making wages fair and life more affordable for farm workers.”

The province is also removing the alternate minimum wage for live-in home-support workers since it covers few or no employees.

The government says any employees that remain in the category will get the general minimum wage.

Andy NealAndy Neal

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