(Ottawa) October 25, 2013 – The Public Service Alliance of Canada called today on the Conservative government to withdraw changes to federal labour legislation from the Budget Implementation Act. What is needed instead is a new and genuinely modern labour law modeled on labour legislation that already exists for other workers across Canada, such as the Canada Labour Code.
This proposal was to be presented to Minister Tony Clement, President of Treasury Board, in a meeting yesterday along with concerns about the gutting of democratic and labour rights being proposed in the Budget Implementation Act. The meeting was cancelled at the last minute by the Minister.
“We want federal public sector workers to have the same rights and obligations when it comes to collective bargaining as those in the private sector”, said Robyn Benson. “Minister Clement has stated publicly on numerous occasions that the government wants a closer alignment between federal public sector workers and the private sector and that he wants a modern and more efficient system of labour relations. We believe that placing federal public service employees within the same legal framework as private sector workers is the best step forward. This reasonable proposal would be in the interests of both public sector workers and the Canadians whom they serve.”
Benson called for a speedy open and transparent consultation process to develop a new federal public service labour law designed to foster positive labour relations and protect employees’ constitutional right to freedom of association and collective bargaining.
“As we’ve seen in recent weeks with new contracts for border services employees and technical service workers represented by the PSAC, collective bargaining works,” said Benson. “When we sit down and negotiate, it leads to a better result for both our members and the public.”
The Budget Implementation Act, Bill C-4, proposes drastic changes to collective bargaining rights, health and safety and human rights protections that will irreparably damage the relationship between the government and its employees. If passed, the Bill would give the employer the unilateral right to designate employees as essential, severely undermining the right to collective bargaining. Far from modernizing labour relations, this Bill takes labour relations back decades.
Previous reforms of federal labour legislation, including the Fryer Commission and the Public Service Modernization Act, were done in consultation with bargaining agents. This government has ignored prior recommendations and legislative reviews and is planning to ram through a suite of cherry-picked items in an omnibus budget bill without transparency in order to stack the deck in their favour.
Rather than create a modern and effective public service, the government’s proposed changes, and the way in which they are proceeding with these changes, is fundamentally undemocratic. They will erode the rights of public sector workers, and will upset the balance of labour relations in the federal government. None of these things are good for the Canadian public.
Attached please find an analysis of the Budget Implementation Act.