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illustration by Kyle Hansforth

Campaign highlights job

issues for students

HAVE YOU EVER wondered about job security for university graduates? Launched by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), the How Screwed Are You campaign is expected to pull the issue of employment to the forefront of the upcoming Ontario provincial election, catering to the needs of university students and recent graduates.

The website features videos, a game, and a “screwed” calculator to educate visitors about labour issues, such as discrimination, stability, and low wages for those who work in the public sector, in a humorous manner.

“We tried to make something that people would come to for several reasons, whether it’s to play with the calculator to see how screwed they were or to play the game,” said Randy Robinson, OPSEU’s political economist.

“I think [the campaign] applies to just about everybody. It is meant to be light-hearted [and] it’s meant to be fun, but the issues are serious.”

According to Robinson, both students and their parents should get educated on the downsides of part-time and temporary jobs, as graduates are unlikely to enter the workforce at a stable, full-time level.

“If you look around at what’s happening in the economy right now, five out of eight jobs are actually permanent, full-time jobs. So what we’re trying to do is grapple with the whole issue of what’s happening in the work force these days,” said Robinson.

“These concerns about not only the quality of jobs that are out there today, but the quality of jobs that will be there tomorrow.”

On average, part-time employees get paid less than full timers. Robinson believes that’s a big issue when it comes to discrimination against part-time and temporary workers, adding that if the wages were the same for both types of employees, there would more job stability.

“In Europe, [paying full-time staff more than part-time] is against the law. It’s seen as a form of discrimination,” said Robinson. “If employers will not discriminate against part-time and temporary workers, there will be a lot more full-time jobs created.”

Though a few political parties are addressing the issue of job creation at the provincial level, Robinson said none of them are focusing on the discrimination aspect; however, some are attending to other issues of interest to students.

“At least the NDP and Liberals are arguing over who has a better plan to reduce tuition, which I think is fantastic. We’ve also got all of the parties trying to put the future of jobs on the agenda,” said Robinson.

Robinson encourages students to help themselves, as the job situation is unlikely to change by the time they graduate. He said youth should talk to candidates, go to debates, and raise the question of jobs and tuition fees.

“Find out which candidate in your riding is going to do the most to solve these problems,” said Robinson.

—Jane Lytvynenko