Unifor proposes modernization of Ont. workplace laws

Submission to province’s Changing Workplace Review to address precarious work, and forming a union.

October 27, 2015

TORONTO — Unifor is proposing sweeping changes to Ontario employment standards and labour laws that include giving more Ontario workers a fair chance to form a union.

The union representing more than 310,000 workers nationally released its 156-page submission to the Ontario government’s Changing Workplace Review during opening day (Oct. 27) of the annual Ontario Economic Summit in Niagara on the Lake.

Unifor makes a total of 43 specific recommendations that include several proposed changes to the Employment Standards Act.

Among those changes are rules that provide workers with more stability in scheduling and more opportunity for full-time work; making employers jointly responsible for the actions of temp agencies; providing access to prorated employment benefits (such as health and insurance protections) for part-time workers; and providing a more pro-active and independent approach to the enforcement of employment standards (including greater scope for independent third-party investigations of ESA violations).

The union’s proposed changes to the Labour Relations Act involve union certification and first contract negotiation, including proposals for the use of electronic union voting, holding certification votes in neutral locations, and expanded arbitration systems to help establish first contracts in newly-unionized workplaces.

Unifor is also proposing the maintenance of union security and provisions when contracted services are flipped.

Its submission includes two proposals for a better balance between employers and workers in the era of precarious, unstable work. Unifor wants workers in non-union workplaces to be given legal protection to engage in collective action to pursue economic objectives (mirroring similar protections that exist in US law).

The union also wants to establish sector-wide employment standards and contract provisions, covering both unionized and non-union workers. The aim is what Unifor describes as “better employment practices” in sectors facing “especially unfavourable or insecure” conditions (such as fast food workers or freelance workers).

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce has also made a submission to the Changing Workplace Review, expressing concern that many of the recommendations that have been made would result in significant changes to the Employments Standards Act and the Labour Relations Act, increasing the cost of doing business in Ontario.

Click here to download Unifor’s submission.

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