Lorraine Michael Question Period (12.03.2013)

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Labatt Breweries is using its forty-five workers in the Province to try to set a baseline for negotiations worldwide.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier: How can she, in all good conscience, allow our workers to be made an example by a multinational corporation as a warning to unionized workers around the world?


MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Justice.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We are certainly fully aware of the ongoing dispute with Labatt Breweries. Government, through the Labour Relations Agency, has been engaged extensively in that process, providing services and the use of mediators through the Labour Relations Agency.

Unfortunately, at times, we have come to a point in the negotiation where there is a breakdown. We recognize that it is a challenge, but we also recognize that any settlement that can be attained ought to be attained through a collective bargaining process where both parties arrive at a resolution, not one that is dictated by a government.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I ask the minister and the Premier: Don’t they recognize anti-scab legislation is part of collective bargaining?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Justice.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, probably the greatest consistency with anti-scab legislation is that it is a part of the dictionary of questions of the NDP. Only two governments in Canada have adopted anti-scab legislation. Fourteen times it has gone before the House of Commons and it has been rejected every time. It was adopted in Ontario and, subsequently, repealed because it did not work.

I understand anti-scab legislation as well as any member of this House. I have said very clearly, and I repeat it today, that this government has no intention of bringing forward anti-scab legislation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I point out to the minister that it works in those two provinces really well.

I ask the Premier: Will she give workers in this Province a level playing field when striking against powerful multinational companies, by ensuring their collective bargaining rights are protected through anti-scab legislation?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Justice.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, over the last number of years our government has stepped up to the plate in so many ways that less than a minute does not give me an opportunity to speak to what we have done to support workers in this Province.

I can talk about everything from the infusion of cash to retrain workers to help them attain better jobs, to investment in apprenticeships to help them gain further education and move forward in their field of work. I can talk about when I was Minister of Labour – the first time going around in this Province when we did the Voisey’s Bay Industrial Inquiry, because we recognized the challenges that are out there.

I say to the member opposite, we do not believe, and many people do not believe, that her version of what the solution is with anti-scab legislation is the solution, so we will not be bringing that forward.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL:Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yes, the Voisey’s Bay Industrial Inquiry Commission, which made six specific recommendations, one of which was that government needs to ensure multinationals who want to do business in Canada respect Canadian collective bargaining and labour relations values.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier: Why won’t government follow the advice of its own commission?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Justice.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, I find it difficult to take advice on dealing with multinationals from the leader of a party who said that she would raise taxes and throw multinationals out of this Province if she ever became leader of the government. So I am not intending to take advice from her, but what I will say is to continue with what I said a few moments ago: that it is our government that has taken a leadership role every opportunity that we have been able to do so to support workers in this Province, to advance workers’ causes and support them and their families.

Just yesterday we had a debate on this House of Assembly floor about providing guaranteed, protected leave for members and families in a number of specific cases that would dovetail into the federal legislation. So we take no backseats from the NDP or anybody else in this Province when it comes to bringing forward policies, practices, and legislation to support workers in Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL:Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Therefore, I ask the Premier: Will she take the advice then from the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour which passed a resolution today asking this government for anti-scab legislation?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Justice.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, all advice is welcome. We will gladly take any advice that the member opposite or the Federation of Labour – with all due respect, I will take any advice whatsoever.

Let me be clear, because many times in this House of Assembly ministers are accused of not answering questions. I am going to say it, maybe for about the fifth time in the last three days, we will not introduce anti-scab legislation in this Legislature.

Associated Caucus Members: 

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