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Massive changes to employment standards, WCB rules and labour law amount to declaration of ’employer bill of rights,’ Federation charges

BC workers will see their incomes decline, their workplaces become less safe and their legal rights eroded under three bills introduced today in the BC legislature, says B.C. Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair.

“The three bills introduced today will reduce limits on overtime, cut benefits if you’re injured and make it much harder to join a union if you want to bargain to achieve some fairness,” Sinclair said. “It’s an employer bill of rights that won’t modernize the economy, but take it back to the days of absolute employer control over hours, working conditions and employee rights. This is a massive transfer of power and money from workers to employers.”

Sinclair challenged Premier Gordon Campbell to allow full public discussion of the legislative package rather than force it through the Legislature in the few days remaining in the current session.

“It would be wrong, given that each of these bills goes beyond the proposals set out in the government’s slapdash consultative process, to impose such massive changes on the provincial economy.” Sinclair said a preliminary analysis of the three new bills indicates that:

BC’s most vulnerable workers will see their incomes go down as they lose a guaranteed eight-hour day, watch overtime protection decline and see minimum shift payments cut in half. Enforcement of whatever standards remain maybe turned over to employer associations. This is a massive hit to part-time workers who are overwhelmingly women.

Injured workers will see massive cuts in their income to fund very large savings to employers which the government’s own background papers indicate will run to at least $300 million a year. Further cuts in occupational health and safety standards are still to come.

The province’s Labour Code is facing a radical revision to shift the balance overwhelmingly to employers with a new “duties” section that will require adjudicators to put employer “viability” ahead of any other consideration. The new changes also virtually mandate employer interference in union organizing.

“The government’s decision to offer a further review of the Code under Section 3 is of little comfort given the major impact of these changes,” Sinclair said. “If the government had truly been committed to consultation, it would have put even these changes to the process we proposed.”

For more information:
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