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Conflict And Struggle

Employers Ask Cut In Wage Of Women Workers
Representations Are Made To Minimum Wage Board
Decision Deferred

Regina Morning Leader
January 12, 1923. p.9

Reductions in the minimum wage schedules for girls and women working in hotels on a seven-day week basis throughout the province, and substantial reductions in wages paid to inexperienced beginners in retail stores were requested yesterday at a meeting of the Saskatchewan Minimum Wage Board in the Parliament Buildings.

The meeting was held in public and was largely attended by women Social Service workers. The Trades and Labor Councils of Regina, Saskatoon and Moose Jaw were also represented. Organized labor protested against the proposed reductions. After hearing evidence the Board reserved decision for a meeting to be held at a later date.

Under existing regulations wages for women and girl operatives in restaurants and hotels are based on two schedules, one for a six-day week, the other for a seven-day week. The six-day week schedule provides a maximum of 48 hours, and for a seven-day week a limit of 56 hours. The difference in minimum wage between the two schedules is approximately $10 a month. The minimum wage for a beginner is $9.50 a week, and for an experienced worker, $15 a week.

More for Meals.

Representatives of the hotels declared that dining room girls in the hotels only actually work about 42 hours for a seven-day week. Yet they are require to be paid on the basis of a 56-hour week. This they contended was discriminatory and should be remedied. Hotel proprietors are permitted to charge their girls $10 per month for room and 25 cents per meal. The hotel keepers suggested that they should either be allowed to charge more for meals or reduce the minimum.

Officials of the Provincial Retail Merchants’ Association appeared and asked that the schedule for wages for women and girls in retail stores be reduced. In the case of experienced help a reduction of $1 a week was suggested but more substantial reductions were asked in the case of inexperienced beginners. The present schedule provides a minimum wage of $9.50 per week for inexperienced beginners, and $15 a week for experienced workers. Various figures were suggested for the new minimum ranging from $7.50 to $5 per week. They also asked that the regulations be changed to increase the working hours in the stores from 48 to 51 hours a week, it being represented that the higher figure was necessary to permit stores to operate Saturday evenings.

Challenge to Show Figures.

Labor officials present at the meeting challenged hotelkeepers and retail merchants to produce figures to show that the proposed reductions were warranted by a corresponding decrease in the cost of living. The labor men submitted figures to show that on the basis of cost of living wages should be advanced rather than decreased. They stated, however, that they were well satisfied with the operations of the board in the past and would be content if the schedules were allowed to remain as at present.

The case for the hotel keepers was presented by P. M. Anderson, K.C. of Regina, and A McIntyre, of Saskatoon. The Regina Trades and Labor Council was represented by Ralph Haseltine, Harry Appleton and J. Roberts, while Geo. Peake appeared on behalf of the hotel employees. The Saskatoon and Moose Jaw trades councils were represented by A. M. Eddy and J. Tate, respectively. Mrs. Eddy, of Regina, appeared on behalf of the Women’s Labor League and the Local Council of Women was represented by Mrs. Ashley Walker, Regina.

The session was presided over by Mayor W. F. Dunn, of Moose Jaw, chairman of the board. The meeting adjourned at 5 o’clock and another sitting will be held in a few days when the decision of the board will be announced.