Pallister Government Blocks Bill That Would Have Recognized Workers’ Rights, Protected Incomes

The Pallister government has turned its back on workers by blocking an NDP bill that would have required the province to recognize and honour the constitutional right to collective bargaining, Labour Critic Tom Lindsey said today.

“All families benefit from the workplace advances that have been won through collective bargaining over many years in Manitoba,” Lindsey said. “But this government wants to tear up contracts and roll back those advances. This is completely disrespectful to workers, to families and to all Manitobans.”

The NDP bill would amend the Labour Relations Act by recognizing that Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees all employees the right to a meaningful process of collective bargaining. The Pallister government refused to support the bill this morning.

“A deal is a deal – deals should be respected,” Lindsey said. “Having fair and balanced labour legislation is the key to strong and stable workplaces in Manitoba—it is central to keeping labour peace in Manitoba and one of the best ways to ensure we have a strong and equitable economy.”

Lindsey pointed out the nature of work is evolving, with less job security, few if any benefits, and minimal control over working conditions. This leaves workers, especially women and recent immigrants, in vulnerable positions. Protecting our most vulnerable workers is more important than ever, Lindsey said.

“The labour movement is an essential part of the fabric of our province. Manitobans believe in collaboration and the right to a safe and fair work environment,” Lindsey said. “Workers have the right to be heard. We will continue to fight for the rights of workers for better pensions, fair wages and against Pallister’s attacks on labour.”

The NDP bill would have enshrined the right to collective bargaining in the Labour Relations Act by recognizing the Supreme Court’s rulings, Lindsey noted. This means respecting the right to collective bargaining, not opening up or imposing contracts, or forcing workers to take unpaid days off, he said.

“Time and time again, Brian Pallister has shown that he is not on the side of working families and their rights to safe workplaces, fair wages and a voice at the table,” Lindsey said. “This government’s attack on labour and reckless cuts to health care, education and infrastructure is deeply concerning.”