A friendly curling competition on Friday night in Houston brought out dozens of local residents. (Shiela Pepping photos)

  • Mar. 14, 2018 1:30 a.m.

The Retail Action Network is calling for B.C. to give liquor servers access to the minimum wage as B.C. gets a failing grade on its gender gap.

The Conference Board of Canada gave B.C. a failing grade (D) on its gender gap; it is 22.6 per cent compared to Belgium (3.3), Denmark (6.3), and Norway (7.1).

The minimum wage is part of that puzzle, as 62 per cent of B.C.’s minimum wage earners are women,” says Kaitlyn Matulewicz, coordinator with the Retail Action Network.

Last month the government announced that B.C. is raising the province’s minimum wage to $15.20 by 2021. But we are still waiting for the government to announce what will happen with minimum wage exemptions, including the liquor server minimum wage. Liquor servers in B.C. earn just $10.10/hr.

“81 per cent of food and beverage severs in B.C.’s full service restaurants are women. The lower liquor servers minimum wage disproportionately impacts women,” says Matulewicz.

“It is exploitative,” adds Matulewicz, “ my research shows that the dependence workers have on customers for tips leaves them vulnerable to enduring sexual harassment and sexualized behaviour from customers as a “price” to be paid for a tip — a form of institutionalized quid pro quo.”

This is backed up by research from the US Restaurant Opportunities Center United; women restaurant workers in states with a sub-minimum tipped wage are twice as likely to face sexual harassment than women restaurant workers in states that pay a full minimum wage to all workers.

The Retail Action Network is calling for the liquor server’ minimum wage to be eliminated.

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