Halifax-Dartmouth & District Labour Council president Kyle Buott delivered a speech to the provincial Law Amendments Committee in defense of First Contract Arbitration legislation and against the Liberal government’s attempt to make it inaccessible to workers. Kyle is a member of Solidary Halifax.
What is this bill about?
The Minister of Labour says that this bill is about balance. This bill is not about balance
This bill is about power. It is about taking power from workers and giving it to their bosses.
In this Liberal government’s haste to undo everything the previous NDP government did, you are forsaking the people who need your help the most.
This legislation, First Contract Arbitration, helps provide workers with a light at the end of the tunnel.
After workers have won the debate among their co-workers to form a union.
After workers have endured employer harassment against the formation of their union.
After workers have voted and won recognition of their union.
This legislation means that once a group of workers had endured all of that, they would finally win a contract within a year.
Today, with a stroke of a pen, you will take away that light at the end of the tunnel.
Putting Nova Scotians First?
This Liberal government was elected on a promise to “Put Nova Scotians First”.
During the campaign, you were widely criticized for being vague and unclear on what “putting Nova Scotians First” meant. However in your first acts, we can see very clearly which side this government is on.
In your first piece of legislation about workers rights, you have sided with the bosses. You have sided with the 1% over the needs of the 99%.
Its clear, that when your party said you would put Nova Scotians first, what you meant was not the thousands of working class Nova Scotians who want to form a union and bargain collectively for a fair contract.
What you meant was putting the needs of the ruling class, the rich, the 1%, first.
Instead of progressive, forward-thinking legislation to improve and protect workers’ rights and create jobs, your first piece of legislation is about taking workers rights away.
Your priorities on labour relations are right out of Stephen Harper’s playbook – take away workers rights and pass anti-union legislation.
This bill is morally wrong.
You have an opportunity to set a different tone in labour relations, and not be like the governments of yesterday – red, blue or orange.
This bill should be torn up and withdrawn.
Instead, the government should meet with non-unionized and unionized workers, people on the front lines who make our economy work everyday. Talk to them about their needs and concerns.
The government should look to progressive research and options on Labour Standards and the Trade Union Act that would improve workers rights and make it easier for workers to form a union.
Instead of gutting First Contract Arbitration, the government could:
- Improve Labour Standards so non-unionized workers rights are protected
- Eliminate poverty through a $15 minimum wage
- Make it easier for workers to form unions
- Improve occupation health and safety rules for everyone
All of these things should have been a bigger priority for this government. That would have meant putting Nova Scotians first, the 99% not the 1%.
Instead you choose to put the 1% first. For shame.
Kill the bill.
Note: Statements by Solidarity Halifax members do not necessarily reflect positions held by the organization.