Ontario Needs To Throw Out Rigid Labour Rules: Christine Elliot
Queen’s Park: Ontario can compete, create good jobs and prosper in the global marketplace – but only if we keep pace with the labour law reforms being implemented by our major competitors, PC Deputy Leader Christine Elliott said.
“Ontario is clinging to outdated labour laws – many created in the 40’s. We’re lagging far behind most other advanced industrialized jurisdictions,” Elliott said.
Elliott noted that “while Europe, Australia and New Zealand are ahead of us, the United States is working diligently to reform its labour laws. Canada is the only outlier today, falling further and further behind our major trading partners.”
“So my message to these labour leaders is this,” Elliott said. “We cannot afford to compound our competitive disadvantage by clinging to labour laws that date back to the last century.”
The paper proposes action in four key areas: giving the individual worker a choice on becoming or remaining a union member; making union leaders more accountable to unionized employees; modernizing tendering rules to open up more government work to private sector competition; and reforming Ontario’s workplace agencies for a more flexible workforce and job creation.
“Rigid labour laws and inefficient bureaucracies make businesses more hesitant to expand and hire, increasing unemployment,” Elliott said, referencing several studies that showed higher average incomes, economic and job growth in U.S. states that enacted such reforms, compared to those that did not.
“It’s unfortunate to see union leaders reacting so harshly to ideas that would provide more economic opportunity for their own members. After all, under the status quo in Ontario has lost nearly 300,000 manufacturing jobs and trail all of Canada in wage growth.
“We need to go in a new direction for competitiveness and job creation – and the ideas we have put forward in Paths to Prosperity: Flexible Labour Markets propose a way forward.”
This document proposes bold new ideas though many of them have been tried and tested in other jurisdictions.
• For example, U.S. states that had expanded worker choice legislation saw higher economic growth and wage growth. (Pacific Research Institute, March 2012)
o From2001to2010,states that gave workers a choice saw 11 percent higher economic growth, 11 per cent higher personal income growth and a three per cent increase in employment growth.
o In states where some form of union dues were mandatory,there was a one percent decline in employment growth.
• In workplaces where standard union rules apply, workers can lose their jobs if they refuse to pay dues to a union. Mandatory union dues are automatically deducted from their paycheques.
• In the United Kingdom, the government passed legislation two decades ago to give workers a choice as to whether they pay union dues. Employees must give consent before wages are deducted, and they can withdraw consent at any time.
o Moreover,closed union shops have been illegal since 1993. Workers therefore have the right to not belong to a trade union and the right not to be refused employment for not belonging to a trade union.
• In New Zealand, closed union shops are also illegal. Any workplace that makes union membership a condition of employment faces heavy penalties. Union dues are not mandatory.
o As membership must be voluntary, there are often multiple unions representing workers at one workplace – a trend also seen in the United Kingdom. The result: competition among unions to see who can best provide services to workers.
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