Despite a last-minute amendment removing the worst part of the Harper government’s anti-labour Bill C-525, the newly passed bill is still a big step backward for labour law in this country. Unifor, Canada’s biggest union in the private sector is calling for it to be defeated in the Senate.
“This bill would set federal labour legislation and labour relations back decades, and for no good reason,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.
Bill C-525, which received third and final approval in the House of Commons last week and now proceeds to the Senate, would make it more difficult to organize a union in federally regulated industries – such as telecommunications, railways and airlines – and easier for employees to have a union’s bargaining rights revoked.
A last-minute amendment removed the worst feature of the bill - a requirement that a majority of all employees in a bargaining unit must vote in favour of a union, rather than a majority of all votes cast (which effectively would have treated non-voters as union opponents). But even with this change, Bill C-525 still makes it too difficult to form a union and too easy to force a union out of the workplace. In the case of revocation applications, the level of employee opposition that would trigger a vote to oust a union would be reduced from 50% to 40%. That means more workplace disruptions, and more uncertainty when unions and employers should be negotiating new collective agreements.
The bill would also end the current provision for certification without a vote where a majority of workers in a workplace have signed a union card.
“Once a majority of workers have declared that they want to join a union by signing cards, the government should not stand in the way of them doing so by erecting a second obstacle to certification,” Dias said. “The changes to the Canada Labour Code will also mean that certification applications will take longer to process and decide.”
Bill C-525 now goes to the Senate for final approval before being sent for Royal ascent. Last year, the Senate effectively killed the Harper government’s Bill C-377, which would have imposed strict accounting procedures on unions. Dias called on the Senate to do the same with Bill C-525.
“Workers don’t want this bill. Employers don’t want this bill. It should be stopped now,” Dias said.