Newfoundland and Labrador’s government announced changes to provincial labour laws – including measures that aim to prevent long strikes, promote labour continuity for mega-projects, and introduce automatic union certification.

"We're competing now on a national and international level for work, so it's important that we have modern legislation," said Labour Minister Terry French.

The province says the changes will prevent protracted labour disputes, such as the year-and-a half long Voisey’s Bay mine strike, from happening again.

Under the amended legislation, the labour minister will appoint a first collective agreement mediator where the parties have failed to conclude a first collective agreement within 60 days of serving notice to negotiate.

The amended legislation also gives employers the one-time power to go directly to workers to ask them to vote on a contract offer.

The amendments will also make union certification simpler.

For the first time in this province, certification will be automatic if more than 65 per cent of workers have signed on.

The amendments also change the regulations governing labour relations at special projects or mega-projects, such as construction of the Long Harbour nickel processing facility.

Under the changes, the minimum construction period required for a special project order has been reduced from three years to two years.

The changes also allow for flexibility to prescribe special project orders by geographic site or scope of work and the ability to allow special project orders to overlap in time and geography.