Labour law changes will mean workplace disruption and skyrocketing administrative costs

"Like the government's essential services legislation that has been declared unconstitutional by the courts, this most recent overhaul of workplace laws goes too far," says SGEU President Bob Bymoen.

Regina (1 Mar. 2013) — Saskatchewan working families will lose the stability and balance they have counted on for decades, and employers and unions alike will face new and unnecessary costs if the government's proposed labour law changes are passed, according to the Saskatchewan Government and Service Employees' Union (SGEU/NUPGE).

"Like the government's essential services legislation that has been declared unconstitutional by the courts, this most recent overhaul of workplace laws goes too far," says SGEU President Bob Bymoen.

All workers, union and non-union, will lose ground with Bill 85, the proposed Saskatchewan Employment Act. "We need to ensure that basic protections, such as the 8-hour work day, overtime and the weekend, do not become a thing of the past. Workers need rest time and time with their families as much today as they did years ago," says Bymoen. Yet Bill 85 begins to erode these hard-won rights through proposed changes to labour standards.

An example of how Bill 85 would undermine balance and fairness in unionized workplaces is a provision that will give employers the right to force any employee with supervisory duties out of their existing bargaining unit.

"The net effect will be to fragment and weaken unions, which will undermine their ability to bargain fair collective agreements for their members," he says. "This is a renewed attack on workers' rights. Governments should not be in the business of legislating which workers can belong to which union."

"Forcing supervisors out of long-established bargaining units is unprecedented. No jurisdiction in Canada has gone this far in dictating how employees are represented in their workplaces," says Bymoen.

"This change will mean doubling the number of bargaining units in potentially every unionized workplace in the province, which can only be seen as a huge waste of time and money," he points out.

"There seems to be no rationale or logic to this move," Bymoen says. "Creating multiple bargaining units in one workplace will force employers to spend more time and money on administration and labour relations. In the case of the public service, it means higher costs that will ultimately be paid for by Saskatchewan taxpayers," he adds.

Many workplaces will now have two sets of bargaining, two different collective agreements, two pay plans, two job classification plans, two benefit and pension plans.

"How does the government justifiy forcing employers and taxpayers to take on these unnecessary financial costs?" asks Bymoen.

Labour relations boards in Saskatchewan and across Canada have typically ruled that one bargaining unit for all employees creates more stability in the workplace, and are therefore the preferred option. Bill 85 inexplicably ignores these legal precedents.

"Working families, their unions, employers and taxpayers all stand to lose out if Bill 85 is passed without amending these obvious mistakes. We call on government to revise Bill 85 to ensure that labour law changes make life better - not worse - for all of us," says Bymoen.

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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