Nova Scotia

NDP proposes tweak to 1st-contract bill

Nova Scotia's NDP government is proposing a minor change to Bill 102, the plan for first contracts that has been soundly rejected by some of the biggest employers in the province.

Nova Scotia's NDP government is proposing a minor change to Bill 102, the plan for first contracts that has been soundly rejected by some of the biggest employers in the province.

The proposed amendment would give unions and management more time to negotiate a first collective agreement before an arbitrator is brought in.

If the two sides don't agree, one of them could ask for a 60-day extension, said New Democrat MLA Howard Epstein. "If the parties are in agreement, they can between themselves agree on whatever timeline extension they wish."

The law amendments committee of the legislature is expected to discuss the proposed change on Thursday.

As Bill 102 is worded now, an arbitrator would have the right to impose a first contract at a workplace where union and management have been unable to reach a deal after at least 120 days of bargaining and conciliation.

The government says first contract legislation would boost productivity by avoiding strikes or lockouts.

Critics, however, argue it would give unions a foothold in non-union workplaces and hurt the province's economy.

Michelin, Clearwater and Sobeys have spoken out against Bill 102.

Michelin, which has three tire plants in Nova Scotia, said Wednesday that it didn't want any external body deciding employment terms.

Unions have tried to organize at Michelin, but they have failed every time. Under current provincial law, unions that want to organize one plant must organize all three at the same time.

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