Canada's latest labour minister just like the old one
Canada's latest labour minister just like the old one This article is more than 7 years old

Canada’s latest labour minister just like the old one

That was fast. Just as news broke Wednesday that the union representing 3,000 workers at Canadian National Railway Co gave strike notice, meaning a strike could begin as early as Saturday, the Conservative government served notice it would be tabling back-to-work legislation. Labour Minister Kellie Leitch stood in the foyer of the House of Commons to […]

That was fast.

Just as news broke Wednesday that the union representing 3,000 workers at Canadian National Railway Co gave strike notice, meaning a strike could begin as early as Saturday, the Conservative government served notice it would be tabling back-to-work legislation.

Labour Minister Kellie Leitch stood in the foyer of the House of Commons to announce the government’s plan to stop collective bargaining rights in its tracks.

This was fast, even by Conservative standards.

Since coming to power in 2006, the Harper government has tabled back-to-work legislation six times and used it four times to stymie the collective bargaining process and force workers back to work.

In this case, CN Rail and the Teamsters union reached a tentative agreement late Wednesday. Had they not, you can be sure Leitch would have acted on her threat.

Just ask employees of Air Canada (2012), Canadian Pacific (2012), Canada Post (2011), and CN Rail (2007). They were all stripped of their bargaining rights when the Conservatives let their employers off the hook. Why bargain when you know your friends in power will just order your employees back to work?

Leitch may not get her chance to kick around labour this time, now that a tentative deal has been reached. The Conservatives still have C-525 to do that.

The anti-union private member’s bill, tabled by a Conservative backbencher and backed enthusiastically by Stephen Harper and his cabinet, is now at the committee stage in the House of Commons. The Conservatives seems poised to ram it through.

The bill borrows from Republican-style tactics in the United States to destabilize the labour movement and weaken the ability of unions to fight for fair wages and a shared prosperity.

C-525 proposes that a majority vote in favour of joining a union is no longer enough while letting a minority of the membership sign a petition to trigger a decertification vote. And by forcing a mandatory secret vote on employees who have already signed union cards, the bill makes the union certification process more difficult, allowing employers to intimidate employees.

This two-step process would put federal labour laws at odds with the rules in a number of Canada’s provinces, where a “card check” of a majority of workers is enough to organize a union. 

Photo: waderUsed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 2.0 licence.

Help us protect Canadians by holding the powerful accountable.

Journalism is an important public service. That’s why PressProgress is prioritizing stories aimed at keeping Canadians safe and holding the powerful accountable during the coronavirus pandemic.

Please consider supporting our award-winning non-profit news organization so we can keep making a positive impact for Canadians.

 

Support Our Journalism
PressProgress
PressProgress is an award-winning non-profit news organization focused on uncovering and unpacking the news through original investigative and explanatory journalism.

Most Shared

thumb-2021-06-025 News

Doug Ford’s Government Cut Education By More Than Half a Billion Dollars, New Report Finds

Related Stories

News

Lost Wages, Security and Voice: New Report Documents Workers’ Experiences of Subcontracting in BC’s Long-Term Care Sector

View the post
New

Kamikaze Campaign Manager, Kudatah Leader Go Ahead With Multibillion Dollar Project Endorsed By Jason Kenney

View the post
News

Senior Green Party Officials Condemned Own Leader as ‘Autocratic’ and ‘Dishonest’ in Confidential Internal Letter

View the post

Explainers

Power and democracy

Andrea Reimer

Why Canadian Politics Does Such a Bad Job at Reflecting Working Class Values

View the post
Politics & strategy

Tom Parkin

Why Jason Kenney is Playing Politics with the Horrific Legacy of Canada’s Residential Schools

View the post
Work & rights

Liz Walker and Shanice Regis-Wilkins

Here is What Everyone in Canada Needs To Know About How Collective Bargaining Really Works

View the post