There are many things I find deeply troubling with the “Consultation Paper on the Renewal of Labour Legislation in Saskatchewan.”
The process itself is flawed. At the beginning of the Paper, it is explained that the written responses to the six chapters will be received, reviewed, and analyzed by the ministry. Then a summary will be forwarded to an advisory committee, composed of knowledgeable representatives of stakeholders, who will review the material and provide advice as the renewed legislation is developed.
Why would a “summary” be forwarded to the advisory committee and not all of the information provided by the responses? Surely such knowledgeable persons are able to review and analyze data? When I asked who will sit on this committee, I discovered that there are 21 representatives, including Minister Don Morgan who will be the chair of this committee.
While women make up at least 50 per cent of our Saskatchewan workforce, only four of the members are women. I would also point out that 75 per cent of our working class do not have the benefit of union representation. They have no voice, no advocate, and no protection. In other words, they are the most vulnerable. It certainly doesn’t appear to me that all stakeholders are equally represented.
I have little faith that the Sask. Party's “consultation” process is as thorough and unbiased as it would have the public believe. The three month time frame in which the government is demanding the consultation process be completed is totally unreasonable. The courts allowed this same government one full year to fix one piece of legislation which was written in haste, without the proper consultation processes put in place.
To attempt a rewrite of 15 pieces of labour law in such a short amount of time is simply foolhardy. The basic labour laws of Saskatchewan have been developed over the course of decades, and each was developed to protect the individual rights of workers, all workers, not just unionized workers. I see nothing in the paper that will improve the life of the working person in Saskatchewan. Make no mistake, the new labour laws to be developed by the Sask. Party will affect each and every working person in Saskatchewan.
It is likely that hastily written legislation will result in even more Charter of Rights challenges such as our experience in the essential services legislation. I would hope the government is prepared to disclose to the public how costly this endeavour will be, including the lengthy and costly legal battles to come.
I would hope that Mr. Wall is prepared to be as “accountable” and transparent of his own government as he is expecting our unions to be. There is a distinct double standard here. The Sask. Party spent a large sum bargaining via the media during the last round of negotiations between CUPE, SEIU-West, and SGEU. It does seem odd that this proposed legislative review comes at a time of our renewed contract negotiations. Many of the questions in the paper are worded to tap into an anti-union sentiment. Coincidence? I see no other reason for such hasty review.
If the Sask. Party is truly concerned for the future of the working person, it will provide us with all the information necessary to fully participate in the process, truly allow time for feedback from all stakeholders, and share as well as listen to all opinions, not just the edited opinions of those who agree with them.
Maple Creek, Sask.