Saskatchewan Minister announces labour law changes at business lunch

"I can’t understand why there would be no mention of these details when the Minister was face-to-face with the working people directly affected by this legislation,” said Bob Bymoen, SGEU President.

Regina (20 Nov. 2012) - The Saskatchewan Minister of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety, Don Morgan, announced plans to change laws aimed at constraining labour rights at a luncheon of the North Saskatoon Business Association (NSBA) last Friday.

The fact the Minister first announced legislative changes impacting working people to a group of local business people, has upset unions in the province. Only weeks ago Morgan spoke at the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL) Convention without making any comment about possible changes to labour laws.

"I can’t understand why there would be no mention of these details when the Minister was face-to-face with the working people directly affected by this legislation,” said Bob Bymoen, President of the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees' Union (SGEU/NUPGE). “A government that respects and values its workers shares information fairly, especially with the parties involved. Why would the Minister feel obligated to tell the NSBA and not the working people of this province?"

One of the changes announced by Morgan that will be in the yet-to-be introduced legislation is to require unions to provide audited financial statements to their members. The Minister did not explain why separate legislation is necessary since members of unions already have access to this information through their union's constitution.

Morgan also announced that it was the intention of his government to strip unions of their right to impose fines on members who cross picket lines. He seems however to contradict himself when he said his government will continue to recognize a union's right to discipline its members. He said fines shouldn't be automatic and members should be able to contest them. Morgan seems to be unfamiliar with the union constitutions which allow for some kind of appeal process for members who havebeen disciplined by their union.

He did confirm at the business luncheon, his government will not restrict a union's right to have the employer deduct union dues directly from payroll, a longstanding practise known as the Rand formula. “The Rand formula is well-entrenched in Canadian courts,” he said. “There's an element of inherent fairness in that and it's the right way to have it.”

Although he provided few details of what else will be in the new legislation which will be introduced before the end of the legislative session on December 6, it appears that the Wall government is backing off from many of the contentious and regressive changes which were outlined in its Labour Law Review Consultation Paper released in May of this year. The paper considered among other things, the possibility of introducing U.S. style right-to-work legislation.

More Information:

Saskatchewan’s proposed labour legislation changes could set dangerous precedent: report

Potential U.S.-style labour law changes could lead to instability in Saskatchewan workplaces

Labour changes considered by Saskatchewan violate international labour law

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