ST. JOHN'S, June 3, 2014 /CNW/ - Stealing a page straight out of the Harper government's handbook by attacking labour rights, the PC government of Newfoundland and Labrador has succumbed to the employer lobby rather than stand up for the rights of workers, says Lana Payne, Unifor Atlantic Regional Director.
The government has reversed its own amendment to labour legislation after just 24 months with the introduction of Bill 22 last night. One of the 2012 amendments dealt with how workers exercise their Charter right to join a union.
Payne spearheaded the labour side involved in the four-year tripartite review of labour relations legislation that led to the amendments in 2012.
"The government may want to dress this up as being about democracy and secret ballot votes, but really what they have done is made it tougher for workers to exercise their Charter right while giving the green light to employers to continue to intimidate and interfere with that right," said Payne.
She notes that it is laughable that a government would fall for employer groups who say this is about democracy for their employees. The vote for a union occurs in the boss's place of work with a representative of the boss or the boss looking on while employees cast their ballot. Employers also have ample opportunity to interfere and intimidate employees between the time an application is filed with the Labour Board and a vote is held.
"That's not democracy, that's intimidation. This government has given in to the same employer groups who argue against decent minimum wages, improvements to labour standards and for cheap, complacent workers with few rights from foreign countries," said the union leader.
"The best situation in a workplace is for workers to have a collective voice so they can come together and bargain collectively to improve their conditions of work democratically, and the government has just made it a lot tougher to do that," said Payne. "How exactly does the government think the wealth from our economy will get shared if workers can't join unions? Does this government think this will happen automatically?"
Payne noted that the labour movement has come to expect this kind of treatment from the Harper government, and now it appears we have to expect ramped up anti-worker treatment from the local Conservatives too.
Payne will join with the President of the Federation of Labour Mary Shortall in a meeting with the Premier later today to outline labour's views.
The withdrawal of the Bill would be the best course of action.
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Shelley Burgoyne, Communications