Rae days reboot from the Saskatchewan government

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Sean in Ottawa
Rae days reboot from the Saskatchewan government

This will be an interesting debate. The Rae days that the Conservatives and the unions railed against in Ontario are now the model (with no credit given) for the austerity policy of the Sask. government.

The argument is that it is temporary and prevents the alternative layoffs.

We have heard this before.

 

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/sask-government-unpaid-leave-...

 

The policy was very unpopular here -- in part becuase of the way it was imposed. However, if you are making cuts it can be argued that it is a better way to do it. And I never did disagree with the mechanism. Unions as well have agreed to other kinds of job sharing arrangments to avoid cuts.

There were two problems back then and the same two apply now.

First is this austerity necessary and helpful? This is not a moral question, it is common that the employer has to prove cuts are unavoidable in order to make them -- and that includes paid hours.

Second, this is an alternative to layoffs which the employer may have a right to do but this alternative ought to be negotiated. The method of just legislating it is a violation of collective agreements. Ultimately the government can only negotiate such arrangements for them to be legitimate.

It is these two tests that decide if it is reasonable: Proof it is necessary and a negotiation.

It does not look like Saskatchewan has met either.

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kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Wall is a smart lad he knows that a Charter challenge means he wins for a very longtime. If you use the BC model first you break the Charter and then fight it in the courts. Numerous unions faced different legislation that stripped away contract rights. In 2007 the HEU and BCGEU and BC Nurses won a landmark SCC decision that overturned the law that had stripped things out of their collective agreements. The BC government had also done the same thing in Education but kept the Teachers in dancing in court until 2016 when the SCC made it abundantly clear that the Liberals had wasted everyones time for at least 8 years after the Health Care unions win.

6079_Smith_W

It is more than that. It is kind of a delicate time for them, trying on the one hand to distract from the GTH scandal, and their own responsibility for turning the NDP surplus into this deep deficit. They are at a point in their tenure when they are probably wondering how much longer they have to push through their agenda, even given their huge majority.

(and you can hear Wall sounded pretty nervous addressing the SUMA conference last week talking about hard necessities)

Of course, the other side is the opportunity provided by a crisis like this, even if it is of their own making. No better chance to put pressure on to squeeze the unions, and possibly even sell crown corporations.And that is exactly what this unpaid leave thing is.

Likewise, the "any askers" trial balloon he brought to SUMA when asked about SaskTel, likewise the proposed legislation to consider anything up to a 49 percent sale "not privatization".

It is kind of amazing what they try to slip by. During the recent partial privatization of government liquor stores one of the sales had to go to a rebid, because the local MLA was an investor in the winning bid. Slipped his mind. Eventually the local Co-op won.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/i-guess-it-just-slipped-my-mi...

 

 

Unionist

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

First is this austerity necessary and helpful? This is not a moral question, it is common that the employer has to prove cuts are unavoidable in order to make them -- and that includes paid hours.

Not sure I understand, Sean. Employers (including governments) can do whatever they want, as long as it's consistent with the law and the collective agreement(s). They're under no obligation to prove or justify anything, nor is there a "reasonableness" test.

Quote:
Second, this is an alternative to layoffs which the employer may have a right to do but this alternative ought to be negotiated. The method of just legislating it is a violation of collective agreements. Ultimately the government can only negotiate such arrangements for them to be legitimate.

Yes - it must be negotiated, or it must not be done. Legislating unpaid days off is not just a violation of the collective agreement. Violations of collective agreements happen all the time, they are grieved, and ultimately can be arbitrated by an independent third party. This, however, is tearing up the collective agreement, and reducing workers to the status of slaves - you must work, or get fined or go to jail (if, for example, they take job action to protest the imposition of unpaid days) - and by the way, here are your new non-agreed terms and conditions.

But it's an ill wind that blows no good. The abject betrayal of the Ontario NDP led it into the richly deserved political wilderness for the past generation. Let's hope and pray for the same fate this time.