Regina – A recent Centre for Policy Alternatives’ in depth analysis of Bill 6, the Saskatchewan government’s tabled amendments to the Trade Union Act, predicts significant damages to the province’s industrial relations climate.
Jim Warren, a Regina-based researcher and labour historian, says in his study, Joining the Race to the Bottom: An Assessment of Bill 6, Amendments to the Trade Union Act, 2008 says, “As it stands the proposed legislation constitutes an effort to enhance employer power and reduce the capacity of employees to achieve union recognition and the ability to bargain collectively with their employers.”
“Bill 6’s stated purpose relies on a number of questionable assumptions. The government’s claim that changes to the Trade Union Act are required because the current legislation is lacking in balance – that the current balance is inappropriately tipped in favour of labour and against the interests of business and investors. Apparently they have missed the point of the labour legislation developed over the last half century – if employees want a union – employers should not be allowed to thwart their efforts.”
Warren’s study discusses the evolution of the Saskatchewan Trade Union Act from 1944 to the present day and argues that the current government’s Bill 6 amendments are unduly punitive.
In particular, “Bill 6’s relaxation of restrictions on employer dissemination of antiunion information during certification drives results in an increasingly toxic and conflict ridden organizing environment. Labour relations are governed and impacted by a whole basketful of legislation, regulations and agencies such as the Labour Relations Board and should the government further widen the front of its legislative assault, the labour movement and working people in general could be seriously impacted.”
He says, “The government now has the opportunity to make the kind of gestures that would make its rhetoric about balance more convincing. This will require the government to demonstrate greater faith in the collective bargaining process, the most viable mechanism available within modern democracies for balancing employee rights with employer prerogatives and the overall well-being of society.”
“Government reconsideration of Bill 6 through amendments to the proposed amendments is certain to bring about greater industrial relations harmony,” Warren concludes.
The study identifies several creative suggestions for amending Bill 6 that truly balances employers’ freedom of expression and employees right to free association.
For more information contact Jim Warren at 569 9389.
Jim Warren is a Regina based researcher and writer, with a special interest in labour issues. His 1985 Master’s thesis examined the political experience of organized labour in Saskatchewan during the first three decades of the 20th century. Jim co-authored, On the Side of the People: A History of Labour in Saskatchewan, winner of the 2006 Saskatchewan Book Awards for Scholarly Writing and Publishing in Education. Jim is a Research Fellow with the Canadian Plains Research Centre.
The report is available free of charge from the CCPA website at http:www.policyalternatives.ca.