12 October 2011 www.canadianlabour.ca
OTTAWA – Canadian Labour Congress president Ken Georgetti says federal interference in collective bargaining in disputes at Air Canada, and earlier this year at Canada Post, sets a dangerous precedent and poisons the atmosphere in which employers and unions have to work to reach settlements.
“In less than four months, this government has overturned over 50 years of precedent on the proper role of government in labour disputes,” says Georgetti. “Past federal governments — Conservative and Liberal — recognized that their role was to facilitate ways for employers and unions representing their workers to reach agreement on their own. That’s the best way to foster lasting respectful relations in the workplace.”
Historically, about 97% of all collective agreements are concluded without employers locking out their employees, or workers voting on and taking strike action. “In the last four months, we’ve seen that this government seems to feel its role is to tilt the balance at the bargaining table in favour of employers for ideological reasons. That’s a signal to employers there’s no reason for them to come to the bargaining table in good faith because the federal government will bail them out,” says Georgetti.
“The inability of the union and Air Canada to successfully conclude negotiations can be laid at the government’s feet because of their ham-fisted interference,” Georgetti adds.
Georgetti also commented on Labour Minister Lisa Raitt’s decision to refer the dispute to the Canada Industrial Relations Board. “By asking the CIRB to intervene at this late date, the Minister is risking the reputation of this respected independent body.”
The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labour movement, represents 3.2 million Canadian workers. The CLC brings together Canada’s national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 130 district labour councils. Website: www.canadianlabour.ca Twitter: @CanadianLabour