Changes to a controversial labour bill were approved at the House of Assembly Thursday in the final hours of the spring sitting, with outgoing Premier Tom Marshall insisting that Bill 22 will give workers a greater democratic opportunity to determine their future.
But NDP Leader Lorraine Michael says the bill will make it more difficult to form a union, and is a capitulation to businesses.
"What message is he sending to the labour movement by reverting to a paternalistic, repressive, Water Street merchant model that favours anti-union employers and the certification process?" Michael asked in the house.
Two years ago, the house passed a bill that set the bar for organizing with the signing of certification cards. Bill 22, though, will require workers to hold a subsequent vote — a change that Marshall firmly defended.
"I believe in picking the people who are going to negotiate a collective agreement for you. It should be done with a vote," Marshall said during question period.
"I do not know how anyone can be opposed to a secret ballot with an election. That is how we do things in this province … If you were to say to me you have a piece of paper signed by four people who have promised to vote for you, I still want the election."
Michael, who called Bill 22 "a travesty," said during the debate that the PCs' logic does not make sense, and will be calling for an unnecessary step.
"It is like saying to us we have a general election. One of the three parties in this room wins the election and they say no, but you have to go through a second election now. That is the way it was. That is what we had changed in 2012," Michael said.
The Opposition Liberals voted in favour of the bill, one of the last items to be approved by the legislature.
MHAs are expected to return to the House of Assembly in the fall, by which time Frank Coleman — the only candidate in the PC leadership race — is expected to be in the premier's chair, unless an election is called first.