Saskatchewan government passes restrictive and undemocratic labour law changes

Bill 85 will be the 201st labour law since 1982 that have either eliminated, suspended or restricted collective bargaining rights of workers.

Regina (14 May 2013) – The Wall government, in its latest bid to quash workers' rights, has passed new legislation which essentially recasts Saskatchewan's entire labour laws.

What does Bill 85 change?

Bill 85, the Saskatchewan Employment Act is a sweeping re-write of Saskatchewan’s labour laws, including the Trade Union Act, the Labour Standards Act, the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Health Labour Relations Reorganization Act and the Construction Industry Labour Relations Act. In total, 33 pieces of legislation were repealed and/or amended.

Among the changes, the legislation:

  • dramatically increases the number of employees who cannot join a union by declaring their job duties 'confidential'
  • imposes a separate bargaining unit for supervisors
  • encourages ‘carve-out’ raids that will allow for the break up existing unions into small fragments
  • allows for decertification attempts anytime after the first 24 months of a certification order
  • imposes increased restrictions on the bargaining process, such as a 14-day cooling off period before strike or lockout can occur and 48-hour strike notice must be provided
  • allows an employer to identify any of its offers — including its first — as a ‘final offer’, and force a union vote on it and
  • weakens workers' rights to reasonable work hours, overtime pay, meal breaks and weekends off.

Government ignores labour rights and labour relations history

The Wall government has been intent on ignoring the importance of the role of labour rights in advancing democracy, equality and economic justice. It has repeatedly failed to understand the historical context and principles behind several key features of the Canadian industrial relations system.

These changes are a radical departure from accepted norms across Canada and violate standards set by Canadian and international law, says the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE). Many of the changes will make the labour relations environment in Saskatchewan much more unstable, fractured and undemocratic.

More information: 

Canadian Foundation for Labour Rights

NUPGE

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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