Jul 11, 2014

Amended Newfoundland labour law draws mixed reaction

Amended Newfoundland labour law draws mixed reaction 

A Newfoundland and Labrador labour leader is upset about amendments to labour law that make it more difficult for workers to join a union, but some argue the changes are required to improve the certification process.

“The bill was tabled, debated, passed and proclaimed in four days, and there are a couple of issues that we take exception to,” said Mary Shortall, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour.

“One is the whole process, because the legislation was (previously) amended to include card-based certification, as part of a whole series of recommendations that went to government through a tripartite committee that reviewed the labour legislation, including the Labour Relations Act and the Public Sector Bargaining Act.”

The Progressive Conservative government in Newfoundland and Labrador passed amendments to the Labour Relations Act on June 6, which includes reversing union card-based certification.

Bill 22, which was introduced on June 2, rescinded labour law amendments that were made in 2012, as part of a four-year tripartite review process.

Shortall is upset with the implementation process for Bill 22, because unions were not consulted and given no notification about the changes.

“They sign a card and then they get a second vote in the employer’s workplace,” said Shortall.

“If there is less than a 70 per cent turn out to vote in the workplace, than the people who don’t show up are counted as a No vote. During the five days that you file for certification, there is ample time for the employer to put pressure on the workers not to sign a union card or not to vote.”

The new two-stage process involves the signing of a card, but certification is not automatic. There is also a secret ballot.

Shortall said the changes are fundamentally flawed and undemocratic.

Others disagree.

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