Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand today to discuss the amendments to Bill C-101. However with regard to Motions Nos. 1 and 4 it is a very sad day because on one hand the government took an initiative to work consultatively with industry and with the labour movement to seek consensus for the Canada Labour Code amendments. Then, once that consensus was arrived at, it included in drafting the bill clauses 2 and 42 without consultation. It blew the good work that had been done by all parties out of the water by creating a bill that could not be supported by the New Democratic Party.
Clauses 2 and 42 of this bill allow for the Minister of Labour to order members of a bargaining unit to vote on an employer's last offer. The problem with this provision was not only that it was not part of a consultative process. In fact it is an unwarranted intrusion into the collective bargaining process. Given the experience of other jurisdictions it is an ineffective means of resolving a potential labour dispute. I say potential because these clauses provide for the intervention of the minister at any time after notice to bargain has been given.
In the normal process of things an orderly process takes place in collective bargaining. Bargaining means sitting down and exchanging ideas, exchanging positions sometimes in a more tense situation than others, and coming to a conclusion both parties can live with.
These clauses create a situation both in the public sector under the Public Service Staff Relations Act, clause 42, and in the private sector under federal jurisdiction, clause 2, which would come under the Canada Labour Code. This creates a situation whereby immediately upon providing notice to bargain at any time
June 1, 1993
following that the minister may intervene at the request of the employer.
Talk about going at something with a hammer. It is like hitting the rat before it gets out of the cage. It creates a climate for collective bargaining or a scenario wherein the bargaining agents go into the bargaining session with this hanging over their heads. It creates an untenable situation for collective bargaining. Under this directed vote provision we could anticipate not only resentment but an interruption to any kind of momentum toward a settlement. We find ourselves in a situation where employers in many cases would not be required to bargain in good faith.
I would like to quote the preamble to part I of the current Canada Labour Code which states in part: "The Parliament of Canada desires to continue and extend its support to labour and management in their co-operative efforts to develop good relations and constructive collective bargaining practices and deems the development of good industrial relations to be in the best interests of Canada in ensuring a just share of the fruits of progress".
That is what we thought was the tenor and the commitment to future collective bargaining of this government and this country. It is still in there, but now we have the intrusion of these clauses both in the Canada Labour Code and the Public Service Staff Relations Act.
I want us to consider going to the bargaining table. Most of the jurisdictions under the public sector are huge. For example, Canada Post has a country-wide union and is a country-wide employer. The airlines have bargaining units across the country with a number of jurisdictions in the bargaining units. The Public Service, an enormous group of working people, has several bargaining agents including the Public Service Alliance of Canada and PIPS. I would like us to think about the implications of a directed vote immediately after bargaining commences.
Even if it is not immediately after, when we have large groups of bargaining units like we have under federal jurisdiction coming to the table, we do not have five people on each side of the table. We have a number of tables representing various components. The issues that
are important to a lighthouse keeper on the west coast of Canada are quite different from those that are important to a clerk in Revenue Canada in Ottawa. There are a number of tables where the bargaining takes place. It is the same in Canada Post. We have a number of tables to discuss issues that are common but also issues that are separate based on the region and based on the type of work being done.
Now we have a situation somewhere in the process where the employers, whether it is private sector for Canada Post, or Treasury Board for the Public Service Staff Relations Act, decide they have had enough. They go to the minister and ask for a directed vote.
First the directed vote says that we do not believe the bargaining unit represents its members. If we do not believe the bargaining unit represents its members, I am quite surprised those members are allowing that bargaining unit to be at the table on their behalf because they have voted on what their bargaining proposals are.
We have created this directed vote and what happens? Do we stop bargaining, try to determine what is outstanding on table one, table two, table three, table four, table five or however many tables? Do we take the agreed to things to the vote and outline what is still outstanding? Once we have done that, once we have taken it to a vote, can we imagine what an interruption that has been to the collective bargaining process and what it takes to try to determine who is eligible to vote, where the list is, get it in the mail and get the results back?
Where does the government go, particularly when we are talking about the Public Service Staff Relations Act? If the government's final offer is what is being voted on and the workers say no in a directed vote, where does the government go? It has left itself no room to move, no room to bargain, no room to come to a resolution.
Assuming Public Service workers say no, the government-and in this case the Treasury Board is the bargaining agent-is in a position of deciding how to get the bargaining back on track. I submit this is an intrusion into the collective bargaining process. We were very clear about it in committee.
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The hon. minister responsible for Canada Post who dreamed up this idea by watching an isolated collective bargaining process in Ontario saw a similar clause but forgot to read all the clauses surrounding it in the BC, Ontario and Saskatchewan labour codes. He decided it was a good idea. The unfortunate part is that the minister has absolutely no collective bargaining experience and has no concept of what these clauses will do to the collective bargaining process under federal jurisdiction.
If these clauses pass into law, they will leave collective bargaining in a hobbled, crippled and deteriorated state. There is enough bad feeling in the federal jurisdiction that it is time for the government to improve industrial relations, not to take it upon itself to create a situation under the Public Service Staff Relations Act. The chairman told us it would cost upward of $3 million to carry out a vote as determined in these clauses.
I would urge the government to reconsider my two motions and to support the amendments.
Topic: GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic: MEASURE TO AMEND