Pat MARTIN

MARTIN, Pat

Personal Data

Party
New Democratic Party
Constituency
Winnipeg Centre (Manitoba)
Birth Date
December 13, 1955
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pat_Martin
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=4ac38ab4-c480-4dde-8f12-a80ff2b4f215&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
carpenter, unionist

Parliamentary Career

June 2, 1997 - October 22, 2000
NDP
  Winnipeg Centre (Manitoba)
November 27, 2000 - May 23, 2004
NDP
  Winnipeg Centre (Manitoba)
June 28, 2004 - November 29, 2005
NDP
  Winnipeg Centre (Manitoba)
January 23, 2006 - September 7, 2008
NDP
  Winnipeg Centre (Manitoba)
October 14, 2008 - March 26, 2011
NDP
  Winnipeg Centre (Manitoba)
May 2, 2011 - August 2, 2015
NDP
  Winnipeg Centre (Manitoba)
May 2, 2011 -
NDP
  Winnipeg Centre (Manitoba)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 513 of 518)


December 2, 1997

Mr. Pat Martin

Mr. Speaker, I will answer the member's question first and then comment on some of his comments second.

A three year agreement should not be found in this legislation. We should not be voting on that aspect because the two parties have already agreed to a two year agreement. The wage rates of 1.5%, 1.75% and 1.9% should not be dealt with in the House.

As I outlined, we do not have the background information. All our information is anecdotal, driven by a motion. Now that we are into a strike there is no real comparable workplace we can use as a touchstone or to draw a comparison because Canada Post is unique.

We should take into account profitability or the employer's ability to pay. We have to keep in mind that Canada Post made $112 million last year. Granted in recent years it has had poor years but it has tried to correct that by increasing its market share. Granted it lost some in some areas and gained in others.

Canada Post contemplates market growth of between $500 million and $800 million in coming years. It is actively marketing and trying to make up for the share of the market it has lost through the advent of technological change and various other things.

It does not change my argument that the House is not qualified to make this type of ruling in any kind of a fair way. We can do it. We are really looking for a lasting resolve and a lasting resolve will not come from a legislative settlement because all the hostility, the pent up hostility and bad relations will still be there. None of it will have been worked through in any kind of mature or sensible way at the bargaining table as we hoped would be possible.

Other interests are disadvantaged by the strike such as the Canadian public, charities and small business people. We are sensitive and sympathetic to that but the fix was there. There was an easy solution early on in the strike. There was an easy solution before the strike even started. Those were the policies of the Liberal government which were trying—and I used the words in my speech; maybe they are a bit strong—to milk the cash cow of Canada Post by demanding revenues above and beyond the revenues necessary for operating costs.

The government could have solved it or nipped it in the bud even before we had a strike by backing off on at least some of the demands for profit, and we would not be in the crisis we are in now. As I said it is manufactured crisis.

I hope that answers some of the member's questions.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Postal Services Continuation Act, 1997
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December 2, 1997

Mr. Pat Martin

Mr. Speaker, in answer to the first question, we have to deal with every type of labour impasse on its own merits. There is no saying that they were out for six weeks last time so we have to nip it in the bud before it goes on that long this time.

That does not wash. That really does not add up. Every set of circumstances is unique, especially this year when we are dealing with a set of circumstances the two parties have never had to wrestle with in their history.

In actual fact when I say we should leave them at the bargaining table, it was with the optimism that there would be a lasting settlement. My own experience in labour relations is that until those longstanding wounds actually start healing, you will be doomed to repeat this process year after year after year.

I am not saying that we should have allowed them to strike for six weeks or six months or anything else. I am saying that we should have let collective bargaining, without political interference, take its course and play itself out. Then maybe we could go for a decade without a serious labour impasse instead of the interruptions we are seeing.

The member asked why we allowed the motion yesterday to receive unanimous consent. I would point out that his party did the same thing. We did that because there are a whole bunch of interests at stake. Reform members, Liberal members and Bloc members have all mentioned that the Canadian public wants its postal service back. Canadian business is suffering. Canadian charities are going through their main fund-raising period and they need it back. However, there are 45,000 postal workers whose interests also have to be recognized.

The legislation was being brought down. By the end of the week it would have been done. We used every political advantage we could to make the settlement as fair as possible and that was the conclusion we came to.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Postal Services Continuation Act, 1997
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December 2, 1997

Mr. Pat Martin (Winnipeg Centre, NDP)

I will speak briefly, Mr. Chairman, to the amendment put forth on clause 9. The arbitration panel, in the minds of the Reform Party, should be dealing with a comprehensive list when it is making its ruling in the settlement of the case.

The list indicates that the arbitrator should be taking into consideration the cost of living index, the impact on the postal service, financial impact of contract settlement, and so on. We should be giving the arbitrator a free hand to make a ruling based on the terms, conditions and guidelines by which arbitrators are always bound and to take into consideration the local factors that would have an influence on that industry.

Outlining them again in any kind of copious detail does not add anything to the argument. Just like a constitutional statement or a statement of any kind, when adopting it like this it should be general in nature so as not to put guidelines on future arbitrators that would make it more difficult for them to bring down a ruling in a multitude of different scenarios.

This would be a very limiting provision to put in place, and we would certainly speak against it.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Division No. 48
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December 2, 1997

Mr. Pat Martin

Mr. Chairman, more than any other clause I think in the legislative package that caught everyone's eye and that everyone was immediately drawn to was clause 9. There was very broad agreement among our caucus that this clause had to be amended in order to make the legislation fair, to not tie the hands of the arbitrator and to result in any kind of settlement that might have a lasting resolve to try to put back together the shattered labour relations environment at Canada Post.

We have put forward amendments to the legislation that we believe would still meet the goals of the government when it puts forward this language, but take away some of the language that we felt was overtly partisan or one-sided.

We had strong feelings that the arbitrator, if bound by the original legislation, would have no option really in bringing down their ruling. They would have no opportunity to consider all the normal factors that an arbitrator should be bound by because there would be a preconceived outcome to the arbitrator's role by some of this language.

For instance, some of the language that we particularly objected to was the original language in clause 9(a)(i) where Canada Post would be bound to perform financially in a commercially acceptable range.

At first reading, that seems like a fairly innocuous statement. In actual fact, it would be an enormous policy shift for Canada Post in terms that it would be now bound. First of all, it is too vague because it does not say what sort of comparison, what is commercially viable. Second, it would be bound to a different way of conducting business forever.

Our feeling was that if the government is interested in changing a mandate of Canada Post or changing the Canada Post Corporation Act, it should be done through the front door with amendments moved to the Canada Post Corporation Act and not through the back door with back to work legislation.

This clearly went beyond what was necessary to get the employees back to work or to settle this round of bargaining. In fact, it read like a wish list for Canada Post.

The amendment that we are putting forward would still address all the legitimate concerns of the architects of this original clause but in a far more balanced way.

We would suggest that the real goal here is that the mediator/arbitrator shall be guided by the need for terms and conditions of employment that are consistent with the Canada Post Corporation Act and the viability and financial stability of Canada Post, taking into account that Canada Post Corporation must without recourse undo increases in postal costs, operate efficiently, improve their productivity and meet acceptable standards of service.

That really sums up what the goals and objectives should be for a well-run organization bound by the parameters of the existing Canada Post Corporation Act.

We would hope that the other parties see fit to support this as a way to make the whole system more balanced and more fair, and to preclude tying the arbitrator to any preconceived outcome before they even get a chance to deal with the issues.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Division No. 48
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December 2, 1997

Mr. Pat Martin (Winnipeg Centre, NDP)

Mr. Chairman, we have been hearing a lot about this whole issue of final offer selection in the last couple of weeks. I think virtually everybody who has risen to speak on it first prefaced their remarks by saying there is no substitute for a freely negotiated settlement. I think we are all in agreement on that, even the mover of this amendment.

The whole idea of final offer selection is a choice that some people make in the course of labour management negotiations and it has its place in a very limited application.

As such, even in this round of bargaining, had the two parties agreed that it was a suitable way to resolve the issue they could have opted for it at any time in the process. Both the Canada Labour Code and the collective agreement in effect have provisions that if the two parties agree they may settle their outstanding issues by any type of binding arbitration. Final offer selection is only one of those types of binding arbitration.

I have personally used final offer selection as a union representative in the province of Manitoba. Final offer selection was law in that province for six or seven years. The NDP introduced it. It survived four or five years until the Filmon government was elected and then it was chucked out. As a union representative in the dozens of union negotiations I conducted we may have used it three or four times. In a limited application we see its use.

The whole premise is that when we have narrowed down all the outstanding issues to a couple of simple straightforward issues like money possibly the two parties could see fit to use it. Even in the province of Manitoba it was optional. Either side could make application to the minister to solve its outstanding issues either 60 days prior to a strike or 90 days after a strike. Those were the windows during which we could opt for this FOS.

United Food and Commercial Workers Union used it a lot. CUPE was vehemently opposed to the idea. The steelworkers played with it as did the carpenters union. I might have used it a maximum of five times over the course of seven or eight years.

Final offer selection had its origins in pro baseball and it is still used there. After the union negotiated all the outstanding issues except for money and the two parties still did not have the monetary package resolved, the employees put in their final offer and the employer puts in its last offer. The arbitrator can choose one or the other but not a combination of both. There is no cafeteria style shopping here. It is one or the other.

We should try to transpose that into the type of bargaining we see at Canada Post. Anybody with any sense of or any background in labour relations would see immediately that there would be pandemonium. It simply could not be done in negotiations that involved a complex set of rules of work or issues the current round of bargaining has been bogged down in. There is simply no way in the world that FOS would be useful, which is why the very experienced people at the table have chosen not to exercise their right to settle this round of negotiations with final offer selection.

To follow the recommendation put forward in this amendment and to institutionalize FOS so that all negotiations from hereon forward will be resolved by FOS would be absolutely ludicrous. It indicates to me a lack of knowledge of the subject. It is as if somebody stumbled on a new idea and decided to give it a whirl. There is media attention so the idea is being milked over and over again until most of us on this side of the House are sick of hearing about FOS. If I never hear the word again it will be too soon.

I speak very strongly against any such introduction. The only latitude we would see necessary in the Canada Labour Code would be in the ability of the two parties, should they see fit, to conclude their negotiations through the process of binding arbitration. One of those offers may be final offer selection.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Division No. 48
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