Legislative changes aim to ensure essential public services during labour disputes24 November 2022
FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government has introduced amendments to the Public Service Labour Relations Act intended to ensure essential services remain available during labour disputes while clarifying the rules of engagement between the employer and bargaining agents during the collective bargaining process.
“This act has become outdated and ineffective. We saw the impact it had on essential services during recent labour disputes,” said Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Trevor Holder. “These changes, which align with what we have already implemented with the Industrial Relations Act and the Essential Services in Nursing Homes Act, are intended to promote balance by ensuring bargaining units can continue to take action during a labour dispute while essential services are maintained.”
The amendments would:
- require strike votes to expire after one year;
- require 72-hour notice for strike action and 24-hour notice before a lockout;
- allow picketing for striking workers;
- allow changes to designation levels later in the bargaining process;
- ensure essential services are available by allowing the replacement of designated essential workers who are absent;
- allow changes to the work schedules of essential workers during a strike or lockout; and
- update what an arbitrator must consider during the binding arbitration process.
The Public Service Labour Relations Act regulates the organization, classification and unionization of the work in Parts I, II, III and IV of the public service as well as the collective bargaining process between the employer, employees and their bargaining agents.
The act was last updated 12 years ago during which time, as result of a court decision, collective bargaining rights were extended to casual workers who have less than six months of service.