TORONTO, Oct. 31, 2013 /CNW/ - Unifor is raising grave concerns about
the sweeping changes to the Canada Labour Code that are being presented
in the omnibus Federal Budget Implementation Bill, C-4.
The proposed amendments, buried deep within the bill, would: weaken the
right to refuse unsafe work; allow employers to discipline workers not
carrying out dangerous work; unilaterally determine what constitutes
essential services; weaken protections for laid off workers and make a
number of other destructive changes. The proposed legislative changes
would also take away the independence of arbitration boards, which are
frequently charged with determining public sector contracts.
"Longstanding labour legislation is being gutted, shrouded in yet
another giant omnibus budget bill that has little to do with the real
budget," said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. "The proposed
changes to the federal labour code would make the health and safety
rules in federally-regulated sectors such as rail, airlines, the worst
in the entire country and turn the clock back decades." Federally
regulated sectors include marine shipping, ferry and port services, air
transportation, railway and road transportation that involves crossing
provincial or international borders, canals, pipelines, tunnels and
bridges (crossing provincial borders), telecommunications, radio and
television broadcasting, grain elevators, feed and seed mills, uranium
mining and processing and a number of other areas dealing with First
Nations activities and protecting the fisheries as a natural resource.
"There is a direct relationship between worker and public safety. That
the government would make these dangerous changes just months after the
Lac-Mégantic crash tragedy is beyond reproach. The government should
look to strengthen health and safety provisions, not destroy them."
Dias also raised the concern about the Conservative government's
repeated use of omnibus bills to radically change legislation -
everything from the deeply flawed changes to the Temporary Foreign
Worker Program to the Navigable Waters Protection Act, which eliminated
the protection of thousands of lakes and waterways.
"Anything and everything ends up on the chopping block through these
federal budget bills."
The federal government has also repeatedly hidden behind private members
bills to attack Canadian workers and the unions that represent them -
such as through Bills C-377 and C-525, said Dias.
"There can be no doubt that this bill is part of a broader attack on
Canadian workers," said Dias, calling on the government to withdraw the
bill. "We must ask, what exactly is the goal of weakening health and
safety laws and collective bargaining rights for Canadian workers?"
Unifor represents approximately 80,000 workers in federally regulated
sectors who would be affected by the health and safety changes to the
Canada Labour Code. Unifor was formed this past Labour Day weekend,
with the joining together of the Canadian Auto Workers union and the
Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union.
For further information:
Unifor Communications Stuart Laidlaw (cell) 647-385-4054 or Katie Arnup (cell) 416-333-8097