June 20, 2011
The Conservatives certainly have again been busy drafting restrictive labour legislation this week. Earlier I discussed the Bill that would have ordered an end to the Air Canada strike had the parties not reached agreement. Today, the government introduced the legislation that would order an end to the lockout at Canada Post. It is similar to the Air Canada Bill, but is even more detailed in its attempt to control the arbitrator’s discretion. Here is Bill C-6.
Once again it gives the government (i.e. the Tories) the choice of arbitrators, and imposes Final Offer Selection, which means the arbitrator is limited to selecting either the union proposal or the employer proposal. One party will “win” and one will “lose”, but in theory both will present proposals that could be accepted, which it is hoped will encourage proposals that are reasonably close to each other. Unlike the Air Canada Bill, this legislation actually fixes the wages for the next and it imposes a term–the imposed collective agreement will expire on January 31, 2015. The wage increases are fixed at: 1.75%, 1.5%, 2%, 2% annually, for the term of the agreement. CUPW is saying that these amounts are less than what Canada Post had offered in bargaining, so that the government is taking the opportunity to pull back what was already on the table.
Section 11(2) gives direction to the arbitrator:
In making the selection of a final offer, the arbitrator is to be guided by the need for terms and conditions of employment that are consistent with those in comparable postal industries and that will provide the necessary degree of flexibility to ensure the short- and long-term economic viability and competitiveness of the Canada Post Corporation, maintain the health and safety of its workers and ensure the sustainability of its pension plan, taking into account:
(a) that the solvency ratio of the pension plan must not decline as a direct result of the new collective agreement; and
(b) that the Canada Post Corporation must, without recourse to undue increases in postal rates, operate efficiently, improve productivity and meet acceptable standards of service.
Presumably, the parties themselves will raise all of these issues in their submissions to the arbitrator, who obviously will consider them and then choose one or the other package.
Do you think that these parameters imposed on the arbitrator will effect the outcome in any way?
Do you think that this is just politics–a desire to create the impression that the government is directing outcomes?
I like the part about ordering the arbitrator to “ensure the viability of the pension plan”. If the government knows how to ensure the viability of workers’ pension plans, then THAT would be a good use of legislation!