IOC labour relations may require government intervention: Michael
NDP Leader Lorraine Michael (MHA, Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi) is expressing concern over the worsening labour relations climate at the IOC mine. United Steelworkers Local 5795 has filed approximately 2,500 grievances on behalf of workers in past months and is now raising a red flag regarding the changed shift schedule the company has arbitrarily introduced.
“Relations between employers and their employee are of course internal to the workplace,” says Michael, “but the government does have a role to play regarding labour relations. It certainly should be concerned if there are prolonged indications of lack of good will on either side.”
USW local 5795 has gone so far as to call for an industrial inquiry, similar to the one government called into the prolonged Voisey’s Bay strike of a few years ago into what is going on at the IOC workplace.
That inquiry’s report made six recommendations which were not entirely implemented by government. One was to amend the Labour Relations Act to include a mandatory Labour-Management Committee in all collective agreements. A watered-down version of that recommendation requires either side to request the committee. The union has done so, but is still waiting for a response from government.
“Government amended that Act last year to take away some union bargaining rights,” Michael said. “Surely it could have, at the same time, included this basic step that would force management and labour to meet between collective bargaining sessions.
“Labour relations affect all aspects of an enterprise’s operations. The parties to collective bargaining must engage each other on a continuing basis in order to foster an understanding of workplace issues and prevent irritants from festering during the life of the collective agreement.”