Volume 94, Issue 58

Friday, January 5, 2001


Western to crack down on plagiarism

New building busy

OSAP default rate drops

Tories alter labour laws over break

News Briefs

$30,000 and opening the new millennium

Nooze Rulz

Tories alter labour laws over break

By Chris Lackner
Gazette Staff

The troops have been rallied and the battle lines have been drawn – labour unrest is brewing within the province of Ontario.

On Dec. 20, 2000, the Tory government passed changes to the provincial Employment Standards Act and Labour Relations Act.

Gilles Warren, president of the London District Labour Council, said he thinks there are numerous problems with the legislative changes. He said the legislation will allow employers to enforce 60-hour work weeks, while the previous laws only allowed a maximum of 48 hours per week.

Warren said the legislation also attacks workplace issues such as overtime pay, public holidays, as well as undermining a union's ability to organize and collect union dues.

"As I see it, there will be labour unrest and all unions will be involved," said Rick Graham, president of Canadian Union of Public Employees local 2361. "All the unions are in this fight together. In our local, as the president, I provide information to our members and then they direct our executive how to act.

"The legislation has been changed. We have to educate union members and the public on what this means for most people," Graham said.

Graham said the legislation could easily effect students who work to pay for school. "We're really laid back in this province. I can't understand how this could happen [without public outrage]."

Wayne Samuelson, president of the Ontario Federation of Labour, agreed that the new legislation heightened the possibility of a labour work-to-rule or strike situation.

"We're going to continue all the things we've started, including work-place education sessions," he said.

Samuelson said the board of directors for the federation would be meeting in the upcoming weeks to decide on how they will approach the fight against the Tory labour laws over the coming weeks and months.

He said he was not surprised the Tories pushed the legislation through during the last days of the legislature's winter session. "When the Tories introduce a piece of legislation, they don't have a history of backing off."

When asked about the possibility of a province-wide labour unrest, Ministry of Labour spokesperson, Peter Hardy, said Ontario labour laws had to be updated in order to provide more flexibility for employers and employees.

"The Employment Standards Act has been around since the mid-1960s and it has not been updated in the last 25 years. [This is] legislation that people can live by," he said.

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