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LABR 1F90: Public Sector Labour and Employment Relations/Labour Relations and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms

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Labour Studies
Larry Savage

What is the public sector? - Sector of the economy concerned with the provision, production, distribution and allocation of public goods and services - Services that government delivered: Universities, hospitals, passport, police, prisons, janitors in universities. - Also known as government-run or the state sector - 1 in 3 Canadians work in the public sector - Everyone is dependent on a well-functioning, well-financed public sector - - For public sector workers, this is the source of a decent and secure livelihood - For citizens, the public sector is the mechanism we use to collectively provide services - like health care and education - that are so fundamental to our well-being, regardless of our individual income levels - For employers, the public sector also provides things such as transportation infrastructure and workforce training make profit-making possible. They cant operate as a profit making business without the public sector Types of public sector work - Administration work - Administrating the work of the state - - Govt policy analyst - Public service worker - Care work - - Nurses - Nursing home workers - EMT - Child Care workers - Protection work - - Police - Firefighters - Education work - - Public school teachers - University/college professors Brief history of public sector unionism - Early Years - - Public employee associations pre-dated unions - Believed the nature of public sector work ruled out collective bargaining - Did not approve of adversarial tone of traditional unions - In the early years a person using the employee associations asking for a raise would have been cause for dismissals - Growing income gap between public and private sector workers in post-war period pushes public sector workers to organize - 1967 Public Service Staff Relations Act (PSSRA) followed by the extension of public sector collective bargaining rights in the provinces - Rapid in crease in public sector union density throughout 1970s - Public sector union membership outnumbers private sector union membership outnumbers private sector union membership in the 1980s and hap continues to grow - Public Sector Unions (Large) - - PSAC - Largest - The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada - CUPE - OPSEU - CUPW Public Sector vs. Private Sector - Commonalities - - Concerned with job security, wages/salaries, hours of work and workload concerns - Differences - - Different levels of union density - Dual role of government as employer and legislator - - Government is the largest employer in Canada - Many public sector employers do not control their own budgets - Government can intervene in ways private sector employers cannot. (Can pass laws to end the strike. They have powers as employers that no one else does, they can wipe out the right to strike for example. An unfair advantage in labour relations) - Public sector strikes might have a net positive on the public purse - - Strikes lose money in the private sector - Strikes save money through the strike in the public sector - Taxpayer backless and reverse - class resentment - - No-one is disinterested bystander during a public sector - Old idea that working class people have resentment to the rich - Reverse - class resentment Cleaner in a private sector vs a Cleaner in public sector - same job why, should you have a pension and benefits. Public Sector Union Density in Canada - 30% non-union - 70% Union Private sector union density in Canada - 16% Union - 84% Non-Union Issues facing public sector workers - Austerity - the idea that government makes workers pay for bailing out budget deficits - - We are in the age of austerity - Privatization - when government decides to take a segment of the sector and sell it to the private sector - think Hydro electricity system, or proposals for the LCBO - Workload increases and employment insecurity - Contract and part time basis - Restrictions on collective bargaining and the right to strike - Reverse-class resentment or taxpayer backlash - - Public sector unions are often cast as acting in their self interest rather than the public interest. - Right-wing politicians would have us believe that austerity is the direct result of the wage demands of greedy public sector unions Public Sector union identities and strategies - There exists a wide spectrum of public sector union identities and strategies - - from militant (more willing to fight back) to more collaborative - Postal workers are more militant, collaborative would be the scientists - From politically-affiliated to non-partisan - In order to be successful, public sector noons must act as a promoter of the public good - Given the centrality of public services to our quality of life, the political and economic connections between the interests of service providers and recipients need to be strengthened. In this way public sector unions can work more effectively in common cause with those who desire a more just and equitable society - - Think for example Transit workers - most inconvenient strikes. TTC workers actually lost their right to strike. A good way to get workers and public on the same side would be stop collecting fares. Affects the employer and not the public Part 2:Labour Relations and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms Labour Law - A broad body of laws dealing with employment relations of both unionized and non-unionized workers - Examples include minimum wage, health and safety, hours of work, notification of elimination of employment, unfair dismissal collective bargaining and the right to strike What is the Charter? - The Canadian equivalent with the American Bill of Rights - A document that is imbedded in the Canadian Constitution - Highest law in Canada - Protection for individual rights and freedoms - Gives Canadians the right to challenge in the court of law that restrict their rights - The Supreme Court of Canada is ultimately responsible for interpreting the Charter and ruling on Charter challenges - - The Court can decide which they want to hear and not. It controls its own docket - Protects against certain actions by governments - - There are exceptions, when violations of fundamental rights and freedoms are justifiable in a free and democratic society (ie. using your freedom of expression to shout fire! in a crowded theatre) - Except as long as they are reasonable - Only applies to government a
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