“This bill advances workers’ rights on one hand while clawing back gains on another.” — Michelle Gawronsky, MGEU President
Winnipeg (10 May 2018) — On May 8, Michelle Gawronsky, President of the Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union (MGEU/NUPGE), presented to government on Bill 20, the Employment Standards Code Amendment Act, pointing out the positives before raising concerns about changes that will negatively impact Manitoba workers.
Manitoba government adopts changes rejected by Labour Management Review Committee
“We are pleased to see the government accepted labour’s recommendations to extend parental leave from 37 weeks to 63 weeks. It’s a positive, much-needed step, and hopefully just the first in government efforts to ensure parents are better supported when their family expands,” Gawronsky said. “But some other changes seem to have come out of nowhere, and should not go forward.”
She pointed to the government’s surprising decision to implement changes that were rejected by the provincial Labour Management Review Committee, which brings representatives from labour and employer groups together to reach consensus on employment standards.
“For instance, the committee agreed that the minimum age for employment should be 14 years old, with a signed agreement of their parents and school,” Gawronsky said. “This is in alignment with the minimum age of employment in both Saskatchewan and Ontario, and seems to make sense. Why did the government not accept this recommendation?”
Bill 20 gives director exceptional new powers that eiliminates workers' rights to fair process
The bill also includes another proposal previously dismissed by the Review Committee: according to Bill 20, the Director of Employment Standards will now have exceptional new powers to single-handedly dismiss complaints, effectively eliminating a worker’s right to a fair process.
“This bill advances workers’ rights on one hand while clawing back gains on another,” Gawronsky said. “Without question, the government should proceed with improved benefits for young families. But we recommend another piece of legislation that includes the consensus decisions on minimum working age and the powers of the Director of Employment Standards.”
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 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