Labour Code Changes an Affront to Democracy: Steelworkers

TORONTO, June 7, 2013 /CNW/ - "Joining a union in Canada is a democratic process, an exercise in the pursuit of fairness, to gain a voice at work," said Ken Neumann, United Steelworkers (USW) National Director.

"Rigging the system to deliberately subvert this process is an affront to democracy," Neumann said of Bill C-525, the Harper Conservatives' latest attack on unions. "If the Harper government weakens unions, everyone will be worse off."

The Private Member's Bill introduced by Conservative MP Blaine Calkins would change the union certification and decertification process in federal jurisdictions through changes to the Canada Labour Code, the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the Public Service Labour Relations Act.

"We've seen this government operate this way before - introducing major changes to the hallmarks of our democratic society through back-door private member's bills," said Neumann.

"This perverse bill proposes certification and decertification thresholds based on eligible votes, not actual ballots cast," Neumann said.

"Virtually no MPs in the House of Commons today would be elected if the thresholds in this bill applied to them. Reaching 50 per cent majority support from eligible voters could actually require 80 per cent or more support from ballots cast. That's not democracy and Canadians can see it's unfair."

The Canadian Labour Congress rightly asks why tamper with a system that's working? The federal system is respected and supported, as a result of a consultative process that's been followed for decades for amending the Labour Code.

"The Harper Conservatives are so mired in scandal and controversy that even their strongest supporters are becoming alienated," Neumann said.

"So the Conservatives dredge up another attack on unions to try to distract from their scandals and shore up their base."

"Polling shows only 13 per cent of Canadians believe Stephen Harper when he says he didn't know about his chief of staff's bailout for disgraced Senator Mike Duffy," Neumann noted.

"More and more, Canadians do not believe the Harper Conservatives are looking out for the interests of everyday families.

"The Conservatives' attacks on unions and ordinary workers are part and parcel of Stephen Harper's pursuit of a low-wage economy, in which multinational corporations and the wealthiest of the wealthy profit enormously, while most Canadians are left to deal with growing inequality."

SOURCE: United Steelworkers (USW)

For further information:

Ken Neumann, USW National Director for Canada, 416-544-5951
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, 416-434-2221,

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