OPSEU tries to protect law on employment standards

Bill 68 would open workers to 'reprisals and termination' by forcing them to confront unfair employers personally.

Warren (Smokey) Thomas, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE)Toronto (12 Aug. 2010) - The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) is lobbying to protect some of the province's most vulnerable workers.

Bill 68, also known as the Open for Business Act, is an omnibus bill introduced by the McGuinty Liberals. If passed, the proposed law would place an unfair burden on Ontario workers and employment standards officers at the ministry of labour.

The changes would be made through Schedule 9 of the Employment Standard Act (ESA). They would require workers to first confront employers over unpaid or underpaid wages rather than going straight to the ministry of labour.

In a letter to MPPs on the province's standing committee on finance and economic affairs, which is currently reviewing Bill 68, OPSEU president Warren (Smokey) Thomas spoke out against the changes.

"We cannot support or condone a process where workers are expected to confront their employers leaving themselves open to reprisals and termination of employment," he wrote.

"It would be naïve to think that such actions would not occur in what is already a structural imbalance tilted in favour of employers.”

OPSEU has embraced the work done by The Workers’ Action Centre and Parkdale Community Legal Services on changes that must be made to Bill 68. The union is urging MPPs to adopt the recommendations put forward by the two groups.

"Their brief clearly outlines many potential pitfalls associated with the bill and calls for removal of Schedule 9 from the act to allow for broader consultations.

OPSEU is monitoring the ongoing review of this legislation and proposed amendments and will provide updates as the Committee’s work continues.

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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