Labour law changes introduced in Sask. legislature
A new package of labour laws that will require unions to do a better job reporting on their finances, among a long list of proposed changes, has been introduced in the Saskatchewan Legislature.
The much-anticipated bill includes a provision for changes in the minimum wage tied to an inflation-related formula.
The government also confirmed several ideas that were floated prior to Tuesday's introduction of the legislation, including a requirement for unions to prepare audited financial statements.
The proposed overhaul follows changes to the Trade Union Act in 2008 that ended automatic union certification and gave workers the right to vote on all proposed unionizations. The Trade Union Act amendments also raised the threshold of employee support to trigger a union vote — to 45 per cent from 25 per cent.
The government says those changes and the new ones are designed to bring a "balance" between the rights of workers and the rights of employers.
However, unions have portrayed the changes as examples of the government's anti-union agenda.
One idea that generated considerable debate, and was scrapped, was to allow workers to opt out of paying union dues.
On Tuesday Labour Minister Don Morgan said that notion was controversial.
"By having raised those in the discussion paper, it probably raised the concern that people in the public have that we may have made those changes so we maybe should have gotten those taken off the radar earlier," Morgan said. "But we wanted them to be out there so people at least knew that they weren't ignored."
Morgan said the change in determining hikes to the minimum wage were made to ensure low-paid workers are treated fairly.
"The low-income workers in our province are a significant part of the economy and we want to make sure that they are adequately compensated and they don't fall behind," he said.
The legislation also maintains the 40-hour work week, but allows for different hours such as a four-day week in which people work 10-hour days. Both the employer and the employee would have to agree to such a scheme.