PROPOSED LIBERAL LABOUR LAW CHANGE
The proposed Labour Relations Statute Law Amendment Act, 2004 contains several improvements to the Labour Relations Act but it leaves much Tory labour law in place.
The new Act does not reinstate Crown employee successor rights, extend collective bargaining rights to college part timers, or re-balance the essential services provisions in CECBA. Other unfair provisions left intact include allowing scabs, barring all unions from applying for
certification after one organizing drive fails, and denying arbitrators the right to extend the time limit for referring a grievance to arbitration.
The main changes are as follows:
Prior to 1995, the OLRB had the power to cure employer interference in an organizing drive by ordering certification of the union. That possibility stopped many employers from engaging in “dirty tricks”. The Board has now been given back that power. As a prerequisite to remedial
certification, the Board must be satisfied that “no other remedy would be sufficient to remedy a contravention of the Act” (s. 11 (2) (c)). The Board may also dismiss an application for certification in response to a trade union contravention (s. 11.1 (2) (b)).
Prior to 1995, the OLRB had the power to grant substantive interim relief, including the reinstatement of union activists fired during an organizing drive. The substantive interim relief power has now been reinstated (s. 98 (1) (b) and (c)), on the following conditions:
1. The circumstances giving rise to the pending proceeding occur when a campaign to establish bargaining rights was underway.
2. There is a serious issue to be decided in the pending proceeding.
3. The interim relief is necessary to prevent irreparable harm or is necessary to achieve other significant labour relations objectives (s. 98 (2)).
Substantive interim relief should be made even more broadly available. There are times, other than an organizing drive, when union activists need to be protected without delay and terms and conditions of employment need to be maintained.
Card Based Certification for Construction Unions
Prior to 1995, all certification applications were card based and a vote was not required. The new Act reinstates card based certification for construction union applications only (s. 128.1). The argument is that construction industry employment is temporary with employees working on
the date of application but gone by the day of the vote.
Waiting for the vote gives all employers time to engage in unfair labour practices. So, certification applications in all sectors should be card based.
Decert Poster and Union Salary Disclosure
Both the poster explaining how to decertify and the trade union official salary disclosure obligations are abolished (Repeal of s. 62.1 and s. 92.1). These are largely symbolic steps, as the provisions had little impact.