May 6, 2013
Liberals to workers: No rights for you
The BC Liberals' were on the warpath against unions and union organizing on the campaign trail Monday.
Responding to an NDP platform plank that would allow workers to "freely exercise their right to join a union," the Liberals lined up with the Coalition of BC Businesses in opposing any attempt to make it simpler and safer for workers to join a union.
When the Liberals and business lobby groups say they're standing up for secret-ballot certification votes, they're really saying they want to delay certification as long as possible so employers can throw up all kinds of legal obstacles, and lobby and intimidate their employees.
According to the Liberals and these anti-union business groups, your signature on a union certification card isn't good enough.
The Liberals also went on the attack against unions and members who support the NDP. How hypocritical is that when they're being such a mouthpiece for anti-union business lobbyists?
For the record, here's what the NDP platform says about organizing:
"The right of British Columbians to join unions is enshrined in the Constitution. Unions play a positive role in building a competitive economy and a thriving middle class. But work needs to be done to ensure that the rules around union certification are fair, and to remove barriers for workers who wish to exercise their legal rights.
"(The NDP will) Form a special panel, under the Labour Code, to recommend changes to ensure workers can freely exercise their right to join a union. Within 90 days, the panel will consult interested parties and recommend possible changes regarding certification options, including the card check model, and ways to help employers and unions arrive at first contract settlements through mediation.
The NDP platform also has this to say under the category "Respecting Working People:" (Do you think the Liberal platform would ever have a section titled: Respecting Working People?)
"Invest new resources to make the BC Labour Relations Board more efficient and effective in helping employers and unions to solve disputes.
"Repeal Bills 27, 28 and 29, the infamous legislation that tore up legal contracts, and restore free collective bargaining in the health and education sectors.
More from the NDP platform. After 12 years under the Liberals, people who rely on their paycheques should applaud:
"Every worker deserves to be treated with respect in his or her workplace, and to work in safe conditions.
"...Our priority is to give giving non-union workers -- who have the least power in dealing with employers -- a fairer shake in the workplace.
"In the last 12 years, the Liberals have rolled back basic employment rights. This has particularly affected low-paid workers in insecure jobs. We will strengthen minimum employment standards and improve enforcement to ensure these workers are treated with respect.
"There are 70,000 temporary foreign workers in BC under a problem-plagued program controlled by Ottawa. There are questions about whether these workers are taking jobs from qualified British Columbians. "In addition, due to language barriers and their unfamiliarity with the rights of workers in BC, many are particularly vulnerable to exploitation. "We will work with the federal government to seek more BC control of this program. We will work to ensure these workers are not exploited.
"Every year, far too many workers are injured or killed on the job. More must be done to improve safety at work, and to give seriously injured workers the support they need to return to work. The NDP will emphasize accident prevention and enforcement of health and safety rules to reduce workplace injuries and deaths.
And finally, from the platform:
A BC NDP GOVERNMENT WILL:
1. Strengthen and enforce employment standards
Invest new resources to proactively enforce basic workplace standards.
End the Liberals' child labour practises by ensuring that kids under 15 who work get both their parents' approval and signoff from the Employment Standards Branch.
Help part-time workers by increasing the minimum call-in shift to three hours from the current two.
Starting April 1, 2014, tie the minimum wage to inflation, and eliminate the "server" wage.
2. Help for temporary foreign workers
Establish a toll-free helpline so temporary workers can obtain information about their rights, and report complaints, in their own language.
3. Promote safer workplaces
Encourage more investment in vocational rehabilitation programs for workers who have been injured on the job, and restore heart disease among firefighters as a recognized presumptive disease.
Establish a more effective governance system for the Workers' Compensation Board to give employers and unions a greater role in decision making.
-- Written by Pat Bulmer
May 7 note: On Tuesday, the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association of B.C., the most virulently anti-union business lobby group, attacked the NDP for its plan to form a panel to investigate certification options. The ICBA's Philip Hochstein said the NDP has made up its mind already about how to proceed, but the truth is he's making up his own facts up to support his own preconceptions. Just like the Liberals do when they talk about the NDP platform.