TORONTO, Oct. 4, 2012 /CNW/ - The head of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union warns that if the McGuinty Liberals pass the so-called "Protecting Public Services Act" it will destroy constitutionally-protected collective bargaining for tens of thousands of public sector workers.
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said at a time when bargaining is about to start for 36,000 direct government employees, the government, who is also the employer, may try to pass a law that would make negotiations an exercise in futility.
"This law, if passed, would give the provincial cabinet sole discretion to veto any collective agreement reached at a bargaining table and allow them to substitute their own," said Thomas. "This makes a mockery of the concept of negotiations. As we were about to serve the government with official notice to begin good-faith bargaining for renewing our contract, they have, in essence, served the union a notice not to bargain."
Even the name of the proposed legislation, "Protecting Public Services Act," is an outright lie, Thomas said.
"The government says this legislation is meant to protect jobs and services," said Thomas. "In reality, the government has already scrapped 3,000 jobs, and plan to eliminate at least 1,900 more which will put over a half-billion dollars into government coffers which more than pays for their gas plant boondoggle. These cuts have already either reduced or eradicated key public services. And McGuinty wants to privatize more services, inviting more fiascos like eHealth and Ornge."
Thomas said that if all the McGuinty government wants to do is avoid any increases to wages and benefits at this time, he doesn't need the legislation to do it.
"The government says they want to 'hit the pause button' on any increases in collective bargaining. If that's the case, we agree to simply extend the contract for another year and look at this again when the province's financial picture improves."
For further information:
Warren (Smokey) Thomas: 613-329-1931
Don Ford, OPSEU Communications: 416-448-7442