Thursday, May 05, 2005

Edging Ever Closer to Paradise on the Prairies

Kate at small dead animals has a post about some proposed changes to the Trade Union Act in Saskatchewan. "Oh?", I said...

A Federal website identifies some of the new powers proposed for the Labour Relations Board in Saskatchewan:
Saskatchewan: The Trade Union Amendment Act, 2004; Bill 87, First ReadingNovember 19, 2004

This Bill proposes amendments to The Trade Union Act which would accelerate the settlement of first collective agreements by:

· Requiring the trade union and the employer to commence bargaining within 20 days after certification was granted with respect to a bargaining unit, unless the parties agree otherwise.

· Permitting the Labour Relations Board, upon the application of one of the parties, to assist in the settlement of a first collective agreement if the parties have not reached an agreement within 90 days of the certification of the trade union.

The Bill would also improve case management of applications before the Labour Relations Board by:

· Allowing members of the Board to complete their active cases even though their appointments have expired. They may not, however, begin to hear any additional matter before the Board.

· Allowing the chair or vice-chair to sit alone to hear applications respecting a trade union’s duty of fair representation or employee-trade union disputes.

In addition, the Bill would clarify the procedural powers and duties of the Board when a matter is before it. These Board powers would include the following:

· the powers set out for the Canada Industrial Relations Board in sections 16 and 16.1 of the Canada Labour Code, with any necessary modification, as those sections exist on the day the pertinent amendment to the Trade Union Act comes into force (these sections include, among other things, the power of the Board to examine documents and investigate matters, to order a representation vote or an another such vote before a proceeding is finally disposed of, and to decide any question that may arise in a proceeding; and specify that the Board may decide any matter before it without holding an oral hearing);

· the power to determine the form in which and the time within which any party to a proceeding before the Board must file or present any thing, document or information and to refuse to accept any thing, document or information that is not filed or presented in that form or by that time;

· the power to bar from making a similar application, for any period not exceeding one year from the date an unsuccessful application is dismissed, an unsuccessful applicant, any of the employees affected by an unsuccessful application, any person or trade union representing such employees, or any person or organization representing the employer affected by an unsuccessful application;

· the power to refuse to entertain a similar application for any period not exceeding one year from the date an unsuccessful application is dismissed from anyone mentioned in the above paragraph;

· the power to require any person, trade union or employer to post and keep posted in a place determined by the Board, or to send by any means that It determines, any notice that the Board considers necessary to bring to the attention of any employee;

· the power to authorize any person to inquire into any application, request, complaint, matter or thing and to report to the Board on the inquiry.

Lastly, the Bill would establish consistency of language used in labour relations legislation respecting related employers by adopting the language of The Construction Industry Labour Relations Act, 1992, to continue to empower the Board, upon the application of a trade union or an employer affected, to declare more than one corporation, partnership, individual or association to be one employer for the purposes of TheTrade Union Act if, in the opinion of the Board, associated or related businesses, undertakings or other activities are carried on under common control or direction by or through those corporations, partnerships, individuals or associations.

These proposed amendments would come into force on a date to be announced by proclamation.
Kate's post identifies issues with lack of due process. But, I wish to draw your attention to some other problems I have with this kind of legislation.

Given the corruption we see all around us (thank you Liberal Party of Canada), do we dare yield such power to our government - the power to decide, alone, with no witnesses, anything? And potentially collude? Are people completely asleep?