‘Scary’ times

Dear editor:
There has been much discussion lately in the media about the government’s Bill 136. Some of it is downright scary to those of us who work in the public sector. There are those in the general population who may agree with the government but please consider our position.
First of all, our right to strike is being removed, as is our right to a fair arbitration system!
Let us now compare this to the private sector. This would be the same as if the company you worked for was amalgamated with another company. Following this amalgamation, you were told that you no longer had a contract that was negotiated in good faith. You then have approximately five months to put together a completely new contract, which will probably be completely stripped down and with reduced wages.
If a new contract is not reached in this time, your employer will appoint an arbitration panel of its choice to put together your new contract. The employee group will have no say in either the contract or the arbitration panel!
The arbitration panel also can decide who is and who is not in the new bargaining unit, and which union they will be represented by. They also can decide how–or even if–seniority will apply. Thousands of people with many years of employment could suddenly find themselves no longer protected by seniority and jobless.
The impartial Ontario Labour Relations Board which covers workers will be set aside during this period of transition. It also removes successor rights protection.
The vast majority of the members in my union make less than $20,000 per year. This is the sole income of many members who stay off welfare by working for these low wages.
Large companies give their employees bonuses for safety, years of service, etc. Those of us in the public sector do not receive these. We do receive a retirement gratuity, which, in the long run, amounts to much less than what we would receive in work-related gratuities if we worked in the private sector.
I thought we lived in a democratic society but obviously not.
This act is a violation of the International Labour Organization to which Canada is a signatory.
Help us to continue this fight against a totalitarian type of government by writing letters to the government, members of provincial parliament, and your local newspapers.
Judith C. Carter, Pres.
Fort Frances-Rainy River OPSTF
Educational Assistants’ Branch