Toronto, ON – Buried deep in the pre-election budget Bill delivered by Ontario’s Liberal government last month is a provision to give the Labour Board power over the democratic rights of industrial unions in this province.
Bill 31 is what is termed an Omnibus Bill, a Bill which contains several issues not related to the budget itself, in particular ‘Schedule 14’.Under this new regulation, any attempt by a parent union to place one of its locals into trusteeship and thereby assert centralized control of all local assets and decision-making processes is no longer strictly an internal trade union matter. Therefore prior to taking effect, any trusteeship must now be approved by the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB).
“This is just plain wrong and undermines the democratic process of our union,” explains IAM Canadian General Vice President Stan Pickthall. “There was no consultation with unions when this amendment was being drafted. The new provision would limit the imposition of a union trusteeship by a ‘parent trade union’ over its ‘local trade union’. The key element of imposing such control is ‘just cause’. If the OLRB considers that there is no just cause to do so, the Board will reject the request. This is an attack on our Union’s democracy!”
This provision currently applies only to the construction sector. Extending it to the entire Ontario Labour movement would have a negative impact on unions and Labour disputes. “It’s outright interference into the autonomy of our members to determine their own constitution and procedures in place,” explains Pickthall. “Our union prides itself on our democratic principles, and accordingly all members have the ability to participate in quadrennial Conventions, where they debate and modify the constitution of the union. This is fundamental to protect our members.”
The IAM is strongly recommending Schedule 14, Section 2,3,4 and 5 be divided from the Bill to be a separate bill on its own. Once thus divided, the Ontario Government House Leader should move after second reading that the bill be referred to a specific standing committee.
“Left unchecked, the Board will have full power to approve or not approve a disciplinary request submitted by the union,” said Pickthall. “The proposed legislation gives the Board the power to completely disregard provisions of the union’s constitution. This Schedule and the Sections have to be divided into a separate bill and we have to be given input.”