For more than a year, OSSTF/FEESO has been working with other affiliates to give the government input concerning its initiative to modernize the Labour Relations Act and the Employment Standards Act. In late May, the Liberal government introduced Bill 148, An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act 2000 and the Labour Relations Act 1995. The Bill received first reading in June 2017 and since then, labour, social justice organizations and various business interests have been pushing for amendments to the bill. These efforts have included lobbying MPPs, written submissions to the government, and in-person presentations at hearings around the province. OSSTF/FEESO delivered a formal written submission and OSSTF/FEESO members, in conjunction with the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) and local Labour Councils, participated at regional hearings. Proposed amendments to the Bill, endorsed by the OFL, its affiliates and the Fight for $15 and Fairness include:
Needed amendments to Bill 148’s proposed changes to the Labour Relations Act are:
- Remove all exemptions to Labour Relations Act.
- Prohibit combining Bargaining Units where bargaining rights are held by different unions.
- Combine Bargaining Units of franchisees of the same franchisor.
- Provide greater access to workplace information.
- Extend card-based certification to all sectors.
- Provide greater access to automatic first contract arbitration.
- Extend successorship rights to all contracted services.
- Prohibit replacement workers.
Needed amendments to Bill 148’s proposed changes to the Employment Standards Act are:
- Extend Employment Standards Act coverage to dependent contractors.
- Strengthen equal pay for equal work legislation.
- Prohibit parties from contracting out of the Employment Standards Act.
- Remove all exemptions to the minimum wage.
- Extend just cause protection for all workers.
- Legislate seven paid Personal Emergency Leave (PEL) days.
- Establish a designated leave for survivors of domestic and/or sexual violence.
In recent weeks, there has been much fear-mongering from the business community about the $15 minimum wage and some of the changes in Bill 148. As of press time a number of amendments have been passed, including two submitted by the NDP, and it is expected that the Bill will be passed in the next few weeks. It is important that OSSTF/FEESO support an Ontario where everyone is paid a living wage and modern labour laws support the rights of workers. There is still time to show your support by going to makeitfair.ca.