Wages for Housework Committee Materials

Year Published:  1977  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX400

A series of films on women's rights centred around the family allowance program.

Abstract:  This brief and attached letters are written by the Wages for Housework Committee to the minister of national health and welfare, Marc Lalonde. The title of the brief is "In Defence of the Family Allowance."' Included is a history of the family allowance cheque,The Family Allowance Protest, Family allowance in other countries, family allowance in Canada, women on welfare, women in Quebec, and some discussion on the guaranteed annual income. The brief is a protest directed at the government's freeze on the family allowance check. The committee points out that, for some women, this is virtually the only recognition they get as contributors to society. It may also be the only money they get that does not come from their husbands. In essence, the freeze is seen as one more mechanism for keeping women down, forcing them to take low-paying jobs in the work force, and generally not having to acknowledge women as vital, contributing members of society.
#2 May Day '76 -"Hands Off The Family Allowance" - This videotape filmed in Toronto is part of an international campaign to win wages for housework. It presents a "mobile rally" which stopped at three locations including an immigrant shopping centre and a government housing project. It also shows excerpts from the speeches, songs, puppet show, and "roving microphone". The rally this year was to protest the freeze in the Family Allowance and to support the campaign for wages for housework for all women. The videotape is 30 minutes long.
#3 - How To Get What's Yours - A Housewives Guide to Unemployment Insurance, 10 pages. This guidebook outlines the technicalities involved in collecting unemployment insurance benefits. The Wages for Housework Committee claims that the government (UIC) is becoming increasingly stringent in its surveillance of those collecting benefits. This austerity program will affect people under 25 or housewives who work for short periods of time to supplement the family income. The Committee feels that the rights of housewives could easily become curtailed by this new government move. Some sections in the guide are: Who Can Collect? Reasons for Being Cut Off, The Job Search and the Benefit Control Interview.
#4 - Waitresses Action Committee - 12 pages - In March 1976, the minimum wage was increased to $ 2.65 an hour, basic rate. However, a new category was introduced at the same time - that of workers serving alcohol in licensed establishments. Because these-workers are receiving tips, the Ontario government introduced what is referred to as a tip differential or cutback of 15 cents to 50 cents an hour. In addition to this, there was a move to tax incomes received from tips. Since the majority of workers in the hotel and tourist industry are women, the Wages for Housework Committee formed a subgroup: the Waitresses Action Committee. They presented a brief on the minimum wage and tip differential to the Ontario Ministry of Labour and the Ontario Ministry of Industry and Tourism. This packet of material contains that brief as well as other organizing material around this issue. The brief outlines the lack of legal and even personal rights available to waitresses. It also indicates that income gained from tips barely compensates for the low wages. The brief makes five recommendations including, of course, the demand that present lower minimum wage for servers of alcohol be raised to meet the standard level, and that no new differentials be introduced. The Waitresses Action Committee has received good media coverage as well as support from diverse groups - the women's community, legal clinics, employment centres. It plans to continue its battle on this issue and to meet later this year with the Ministry of Labour. The Packet also contains petition forms, copies of newspaper articles on the waitresses issue as well as personal testimonies from waitresses.
#5 Lesbians Organize - 20 pages - This collection of material is published by Wages Due Lesbians, a group of lesbian women active in the Wages for Housework Campaign and the Family Allowance Protest. This group claims that its members are even more vulnerable to the family allowance cutbacks than housewives, due to the lack of financial support from male partners(husbands). This material includes documentation on the struggle (both in Canada and on an international level) for gay women's rights. One of the issues which surfaces in the material is the legal abuse of lesbian women who are attempting to gain and maintain custody of their children.
#6 - Publications - 8 pages - This resource list contains prices and descriptions of at least 15 publications dealing with the issue of women's struggles both in Canada and internationally. The majority of these publications address the issue of women as members of the labour force.

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