OTTAWA, Dec. 10, 2013 /CNW/ - Federal public sector unions are joining
forces to challenge an unprecedented assault on collective bargaining
and workplace health and safety by the Conservative government.
The unions have agreed to pool their resources in advance of the next
round of collective bargaining with Treasury Board in 2014. In order to
defend the rights of their members, the unions will take joint action
to challenge the constitutionality of Bill C-4, the legislation
containing these dramatic changes, now being rushed through Parliament.
Bill C-4 undermines the right to collective bargaining, eliminates
important human rights protections, and will make every federal
workplace less safe for its workers and the Canadians they serve.
The Bill was drafted with no consultation with public sector bargaining
agents and eliminates labour rights gained over the last fifty years,
and severely undermines the ability of federal employees to negotiate
on a fair playing field.
The Bill gives the federal government's Treasury Board the unfettered
right to determine what constitutes an essential service, which workers
are denied the right to strike, and which collective agreements will be
decided through arbitration. The Bill also changes arbitration by
limiting the independence of arbitration boards.
Bill C-4 gives the Minister of Labour the authority to throw out any
unsafe work refusal complaint without investigation, leaving employees
who refuse unsafe work open to discipline, including dismissal. If the
Minister chooses, an investigation can be undertaken in secret. The
impact of these changes to health and safety protection will reach far
beyond the federal public service to the 1.2 million private and public
sector workers covered by the Canada Labour Code.
In several presentations before Parliamentary committees in the House of
Commons and Senate, federal unions and legal experts called on
Parliament to withdraw the provisions amending the Public Service
Labour Relations Act and the Canada Labour Code from the omnibus budget
The Canadian Bar Association heavily criticized the anti-democratic
nature of the Bill in its recent letter to Parliament, and Sack Goldblatt Mitchell, a prominent labour law firm, said that
the changes in Bill C-4 "will have a profound impact upon the ability
of unions to bargain effectively with the Government and to protect and
promote the rights of the employees they represent."
The questions asked by Conservative MPs at these committees made it
clear that the primary aim of the Bill is not to modernize labour
relations, but rather to make it easier for the government to attack
the pay and benefits of federal public servants.
In addition to preparing a legal challenge, federal public sector unions
also agreed to join forces to defend collective agreements in the next
round of bargaining, to inform federal workers and the public of the
extreme and radical nature of these changes, and to vigorously defend
health and safety in federal workplaces.
The Federal Bargaining Agents of the National Joint Council are:
For further information:
Shelina Merani, PSAC Communications, 613-293-9324
Peter Bleyer, PIPSC Communications, 613-292-6929
Pierre Lebel, CAPE Communications, 613-236-9181