FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government has introduced amendments to the Industrial Relations Act, in response to the request of municipalities, that would require arbitrators to consider specific criteria when rendering a decision that involves the police and fire sectors.

The bill will be referred to the standing committee on law amendments to provide the public, municipalities and the fire and police unions the opportunity to comment and consult on the proposed amendments.

“Municipalities across the province have highlighted problems with arbitration awards for the police and fire sectors and requested these amendments,” said Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Trevor Holder. “Municipalities have observed that the wages and awards determined through arbitration are higher than wages and awards arrived at through the free collective bargaining process.”

Under the Industrial Relations Act, police officers and firefighters do not have the right to strike and their employers do not have the right to declare a lock-out.

Proposed amendments would require that binding interest arbitrations involving police officers and firefighters would:

  • be conducted by a single arbitrator;
  • require that parties provide the arbitrator with documentation of their issues in advance of the hearing; and
  • require the arbitrator to take into consideration a list of criteria when making a decision and to provide written reasons, upon request of either party, that shows how they considered these criteria.

More details on the process of the standing committee on law amendments will be available in the coming weeks.