SGEU says government labour law changes erode rights of workers

"We are deeply disappointed with the dissension the government has caused as a result with respect to industrial relations in this province,” said SGEU President Bob Bymoen.

Regina (17 May 2013) – The government’s overhaul of all of the province’s labour laws will make life tougher for Saskatchewan workers, according to the Saskatcehwan Government and General Employees' Union (SGEU/NUPGE).

Government rushed changes

“SGEU lobbied hard with other unions for changes and we had some success in protecting worker rights in certain areas; however, these changes were rushed through without adequate consultation, and will strip union members and non-union workers of existing rights, and we are deeply disappointed with the dissension the government has caused as a result with respect to industrial relations in this province,” said SGEU President Bob Bymoen.

Amendments lessen negative impact slightly

Amendments passed just days before the end of the legislative session limit the provision that initially excluded workers from belonging to a union based on the definition of an “employee.” Now, for a person to be excluded from the union, activities of a confidential nature would have to be among their ‘primary duties’ and potentially ‘have an impact on the bargaining unit’ the person is part of.

The amended provision still goes too far in attempting to deprive workers of their right to belong to a union, but the changes mean that fewer workers will be negatively affected, although there is still a provision that will force all employees with supervisory duties out of the bargaining unit of wich they are currently a member.

Achieving fair contracts harder

These changes will also make it more difficult to achieve a fair contract, as the employer can identify any offer made after collective bargaining, including the very first, as a ‘final offer; and force a union to vote on it – an unfair tactic that will allow employers to intimidate union workers.

“The provision allowing employees to bank overtime hours as straight time is an area of concern, among others – we are looking forward to the regulations to see what they will bring,” added Bymoen.

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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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