On October 22, 2013 the government introduced a number of changes to the labour and employment laws governing public servants. These changes are targeted at public servants and the unions who represent them. The changes make it harder to collectively bargain with the government, harder to enforce collective agreements, and harder to complaint about unfair and unjust layoffs or appointments in the public service. The proposed legislation is a retrograde change that; in both its content, and the fact that it has been announced without warning and without any consultation; will damage labour relations in the federal public service for years to come.
The proposed changes:
- Allow the government to unilaterally declare which employees are engaged in “essential services”, without reference to any criteria or definition of that term;
- Take away the right of interest arbitration for all public servants unless more than 80% of the bargaining unit is declared essential;
- Change the rules of arbitration so that arbitrators are forced to follow the orders of the Minister of Finance;
- Make it harder to obtain an effective remedy in policy grievances;
- Make it harder to challenge improper layoffs or appointments; and
- Create a new tribunal to do the work of two tribunals, but with no guarantee of the necessary increase in resources to make it work.
For a more detailed summary of these changes and their possible impact, please click here.