Western goes into labour
By Sara Marett
Talk surrounding the possibility of an approaching province-wide public- sector employee strike is getting louder loud enough to force the provincial government to announce proposed amendments to Bill 136 at Queen's Park yesterday.
If those attempts by Minister of Labour Elizabeth Witmer to address concerns from the trade union movement do not succeed at settling present unrest, an illegal strike could occur as early as next week and Western will be affected as its unionized employees will take part.
Jim Walden, general manager for Western's University Students' Council, said he has issued a memo to all USC staff to advise them of the possible strike and its implications.
Walden explained that of the 48 full-time USC employees, approximately 30 belong to local union 2820, adding other services on campus with unionized employees are teaching assistants, food services, the physical plant and cleaning services.
He explained if, in the event of a strike, an individual is physically unable to get to work, there will be a number for them to call and be excused. "If someone however, does not come to work because they are supporting the strike, they will be subject to pay deduction and may face disciplinary measures."
Brian O'Keefe, secretary-treasurer for the Canadian Union of Public Employees, said the Minister of Labour's announcements raised more questions than answers and didn't change the minds of CUPE members.
"If they are in the position where they want to propose changes, then something should have been done across the table," O'Keefe said, adding no firm strike deadline has been made.
Bruce Stewart of the communications and marketing branch of the Ministry of Labour said the possible changes announced yesterday must be adopted by the House of Commons.
The amendments to Bill 136 would remove proposed restrictions on the right to strike and free collective bargaining for a first collective agreement. They would also eliminate the current Dispute Resolution Commission, as desired by the Ontario Federation of Labour.
As well, a return to the current legislative provision governing the appointment of arbitrators and replacement of the proposed Labour Relations Transition Commission.