Lorraine Michael Question Period (12.09.2013)

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

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

Government rejected a call by the Voisey's Bay Industrial Inquiry Commission to provide a process for the imposition of a collective agreement when all else has failed, the only recommendation that they out-and-out refused to consider.

I ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker, why her government continues to refuse to put in place mechanisms such as mandatory arbitration panels for the protection of workers and the public interest?


SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We have reports done from time to time by a number of committees and groups who have given us recommendations and advice on certain aspects of not only the collective bargaining process, but many aspects of government and policy and legislation for the Province. We accept some and we do not accept others. That is part of being a government. We are not obligated to accept every recommendation that is provided to us.

We also have an Employer Relations Committee that works with us from time to time, made up of representatives from labour as well as business and government officials. There are occasions, as we have done in this House very recently, where they come with recommendations that are a consensus agreed upon by all parties. We sometimes bring those forward. We have other what we call non-consensus items that never make it to the floor of the House of Assembly.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

I point out to the minister that the Federation of Labour accepted all of those recommendations and have seen very little for that.

I ask the Premier again to explain to the workers at Labatt's why it is all right for replacement workers, known as scab labour, to be doing their work while they stand on a picket line?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We are very aware with what is going on with Labatt's and we are very concerned with that strike. My officials, through a number of senior conciliation officers, have been involved for quite some time in trying to move that process forward. We are very hopeful and optimistic that we are going to find a resolution.

As I said to the member several days ago, we understand the best way to form a solution is through a negotiated process, not one that is imposed upon by a third party such as the government. It is not a policy of our party that we are going to bring forward the kind of legislation that she is advocating for in this House.

I might add I am very pleased to hear her here today arguing for the unions, when the bulk of her time is spent in this House arguing against the 3,000 unionized jobs that we are bringing forward for Muskrat Falls.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS MICHAEL:I ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker: In everything that they say over on that side of the House, whose interest is this government really serving, the workers of this Province, or that of multinational corporations that make billions of dollars worldwide?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, the government of this Province is serving the needs of the people of this Province and the interests of the people of this Province. That is why we are creating 3,000 jobs in Muskrat Falls. That is why over the last ten years the economy in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador has never been in better shape than it is today. It is why the Province continues to grow.

It is why every single indicator brought before this House, even as recent as last week in the mid-year fiscal update by my colleague the Minister of Finance, shows very positive results in Newfoundland and Labrador. It is because of the leadership this government and our Premier has provided the Province.

We take back seat to no one, especially the Leader of the New Democratic Party who argues both sides of an argument depending on who is sitting in the gallery in this House. We stand by the policies that we bring forward in the best interests of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

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

I would like to ask the minister: Last week you talked about all the wonderful things that they are doing for workers in this Province; what does worker retention mean or what does worker education mean when they will not stand by the rights of the workers as they are being stripped by multinational corporations?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, there are labour laws in this Province for a particular reason. It is so that people like the Leader of the Third Party cannot arbitrarily, because it suits the politics of the day, impose a political decision into the middle of a labour dispute. We have laws in place to support that process, and we have a Labour Relations Agency in place to support and facilitate finding resolutions for the workers, such as the one at Labatt's.

Our government is very understanding and very aware of the sensitivities of that dispute, and we have great concern about where it is headed – there is no question about that – but we do not intend to get into the middle of a dispute.

MS MICHAEL: (Inaudible).

MR. KING: Now, Mr. Speaker the Leader of the Third Party can shout at me across the way or she can let me answer the question. We do not support replacement worker legislation, first of all; but I will say to you that there is a request for a conciliation board before me, and I am considering it.

Associated Caucus Members: 

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