labour legislation in Saskatchewan
Hubich is president of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour.
In his column, Deals suggest unions losing (SP, Jan. 28), Murray Mandryk makes a number of claims and characterizations about working people’s organizations and the legislative environment in Saskatchewan that are simply incorrect.
The piece begins with the suggestion that the provincial government is engaged in a war with working people and their unions. It’s certainly not difficult to see how someone could describe the government’s efforts in those terms. In fact, prior to the 2007 election, the current premier explicitly described his policy toward working people’s organizations as a “war.”
What should be acknowledged, however, is that there is a clear difference between how the government has behaved and how working people and their unions have responded.
Days after its first electoral victory, the government introduced two extremely controversial pieces of legislation. In s adidas trainers pite of the warnings and criticisms of working people, industrial relations experts, academics, think tanks, lawyers and others, and in spite of conducting no meaningful consultations with those most affected, the government forged ahead in imposing harsh restrictions on Saskatchewan people’s rights.
The legislation was later condemned by the United Nations International Labour Organization and, in the case of Bill 5, ultimately struck down by the Saskatchewan Court adidas trainers of Queen’s Bench as unconstitutional.
To suggest that the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour, or any other organization, has accepted an olive branch from the government, only to use it as “a beating stick,” is a serious mischaracterization of the relationship that began with the election of the current government.
The truth is that it is always contrary to working people’s best interests to develop bitter relationships with employers, whether they are government employers or otherwise. It is in everyone’s interest to have a process of free collective bargaining that results in an agreement between both parties, which is what typically happens.
Despite the fact that more than 97 per cent of collective bargaining results in an agreement without a dispute, the provincial government’s legislation, which will soon be before the Supreme Court, has made the process much more difficult and adversarial.
Another troubling claim from Mandryk’s column is that the harsh legislation in question has already been replaced, and that recent collective agreements are the result of some kind of political strategy. This is completely untrue for several reasons.
Although the government has drafted new legislation to replace the more invasive, unconstitutional laws, the new legislation has not come into effect. Working people are still suffering under the original laws as they desperately try to negotiate fair contracts. Because an unconstitutional law is still on the books, it is little wonder why most public sector unions continue to see wage increases that do not keep pace with inflation.
However, it is important to note that in spite of th adidas trainers e harsh laws, the average hourly wage rate of unionized permanent employees in Saskatchewan in 2013 was nearly five dollars higher than of those not in a union. For temporary employees, the difference is nearly six dollars per hour.
Though the details of individual collective agreements may vary over time, what never varies is the fact that all Saskatchewan peopl adidas trainers e should have the right to freely form or join a union.
Collective bargaining is the process by which we can all participate in economic democracy. It is a human right identified both by the Supreme Court and the United Nations, and it should not be unfairly limited by this or any other government.