Volume 91, Issue 15

Tuesday, September 23, 1997

dirty pool


Not quite struck out yet

By Sara Marett
Gazette Staff

The possibility of a province-wide labour strike seems to have struck out, but union members say they are not yet satisfied with the amendments proposed by the provincial government to Bill 136.

The announcement made by Minister of Labour Elizabeth Witmer Sept. 18 proposed changes to the Bill in hopes to silence talks of an impending strike by labour unions. These groups however, still have questions regarding the proposed changes to the Bill and say the possibility of a strike has not been ruled out.

"The statement made last week didn't answer our questions on how the amendments would affect the current legislation," said Roger Neeley, national representative for the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

Neeley said his organization told the Harris government on the weekend that until they see the written details of the amendments, they will continue to mobilize towards strike action.

The amendments to Bill 136 must be formally tabled by the clerk of the legislation Sept. 29 and CUPE representatives will attend public meetings with the provincial government this Friday, he said.

Bruce Stewart, spokesperson for the Ministry of Labour, said the Ministry's staff has been meeting with various organizations since the announcement was made to explain the details of the proposed changes.

Stewart explained the Ministry will hold four days of public hearings with various labour organizations before the legislation is formally tabled next week. "We will be listening to the input from the groups at the public hearings."

The purpose of Bill 136 is to deal with labour disputes arising from governmental decisions such as hospital closures and mergers within school boards and municipal governments. There would be approximately 400,000 workers in Ontario affected if unions decided to strike.

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Copyright The Gazette 1997