The head of the Ontario Public Service
Employees Union warns that if the McGuinty Liberals pass the so-called
“Protecting Public Services Act” it will destroy constitutionally-protected
collective bargaining for tens of thousands of public sector workers.
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas
said at a time when bargaining is about to start for 36,000 direct government
employees, the government, who is also the employer, may try to pass a law that
would make negotiations an exercise in futility.
“This law, if passed, would give the
provincial cabinet sole discretion to veto any collective agreement reached at a
bargaining table and allow them to substitute their own,” said Thomas. “This
makes a mockery of the concept of negotiations. As we were about to serve the
government with official notice to begin good-faith bargaining for renewing our
contract, they have, in essence, served the union a notice not to bargain.”
Even the name of the proposed
legislation, “Protecting Public Services Act,” is an outright lie, Thomas said.
“The government says this legislation is
meant to protect jobs and services,” said Thomas. “In reality, the government
has already scrapped 3,000 jobs, and plan to eliminate at least 1,900 more which
will put over a half-billion dollars into government coffers which more than
pays for their gas plant boondoggle. These cuts have already either reduced or
eradicated key public services. And McGuinty wants to privatize more services,
inviting more fiascos like eHealth and Ornge.”
Thomas said that if all the McGuinty
government wants to do is avoid any increases to wages and benefits at this
time, he doesn’t need the legislation to do it.
“The government says they want to ‘hit
the pause button’ on any increases in collective bargaining. If that’s the case,
we agree to simply extend the contract for another year and look at this again
when the province’s financial picture improves.”
Warren (Smokey) Thomas: 613-329-1931
Don Ford, OPSEU Communications: 416-448-7442
4, 2012 A joint letter from your OPS Bargaining teams chairs explains that
efforts to bargain in good faith has been compromised by pending legislation.
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