BCGEU objects to employer-driven push for new dispute resolution body to deal with workplace issues.
Vancouver (1 Oct. 2010) - The B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) says the province does not need a new workplace model to resolve disputes.
In June, the union says, the minister of labour asked the B.C. Law Institute to conduct research and analysis on a new “super” tribunal model proposed by the employer community as an improved way to resolve workplace issues.
Management law firms circulated several academic papers outlining an integrated model that would replace all agencies currently dealing with workplace issues, including the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal (BCHRT).
The major feature of the new proposal was a provision to prevent unionized workers from filing human rights complaints to the BCHRT. Instead, they would be required to pursue all workplace issues, including claims of discrimination, through the existing grievance-arbitration process. The BCHRT would be eliminated altogether or have its mandate reduced.
"The BCGEU and the labour community have many concerns about the project and the process," the union says in an update on its website.
"The B.C. Federation of Labour table officers have recommended that unions not participate in the project because of these concerns. Federation president Jim Sinclair will meet with the minister at the end of the month to communicate these concerns," it notes.
"We will keep you informed about the law institute process and the model as the proposed changes will affect members’ rights."
BCGEU believes the institute has been given too little time to complete its mandate, having been told to produce a preliminary report by the end of October and to consult with a limited list of stakeholders.
"Although the institute confirms that the public will have an opportunity to comment later in the process, BCGEU believes that a thorough and transparent public review process requires public input at every stage," the union says.
"It is premature to undertake academic research into comparative jurisdictions regarding workplace dispute resolution systems. The labour community has not had an opportunity to identify problems with the present system. The employer focus on changes to the BCHRT system does not recognize the more serious problems with the B.C. Labour Relations Board (BCLRB) and the Employment Standards system that warrant review and resolution," it adds.
"BCGEU supports an independent review of our system and the mandate to make recommendations for change. Unfortunately, the law institute has been provided a restricted mandate and does not have sufficient time to undertake a thorough review. This review is targeted and driven by an employer focus on the BCHRT structure. If the government has a sincere interest in improving the model of human rights protection for workers in B.C., BCGEU recommends that it undertake an impartial review of all labour and human rights bodies and allow a full opportunity for public consult and evaluation through a comprehensive and transparent process."
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