In another example of how it refuses to comply with orders from the Grievance Settlement Board of Ontario (GSB), the Ministry of the Attorney General today announced it intends to contract-out the transcription work of about 650 court reporters.
"Where is this all going to end?" asked Jim Jurens, a spokesperson for the court reporters across Ontario represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU). "Will these jobs one day end up in India or the southern U.S.?"
The Ministry has been trying to eliminate the transcription work of court reporters from its payroll for almost 15 years, despite rulings by the GSB that the highly-sensitive work of court reporters in the province"s criminal justice system rightfully and legally belongs to those in the OPSEU bargaining unit.
In 2006 GSB Vice-Chair Randi Abramsky ruled that transcript production is the bargaining unit work of court reporters and is protected by the collective agreement OPSEU negotiated with the employer. The Ministry ignored her ruling by imposing legal tactics and other stalling measures.
In March, 2013, Vice-Chair Nimal Dissanayake issued an order to the Ministry directing it to stop its violation of the collective agreement and to stop treating court reporters as independent contractors.
As a result of the Dissanayake decision OPSEU has taken the issue to the Superior Court of Justice asking it to order the Ministry to abide by the GSB ruling.
Jurens said that if the Ministry is successful in forcing its will on court reporters their incomes could be cut by more than half. "The employer is prepared to see its own employees lose their homes if this sort of wage loss succeeds."
OPSEU president Warren (Smokey) Thomas, said the actions of the Ministry of the Attorney General are another example of the arrogance displayed by the current government.
"Ethically, morally and legally it is a disgrace that the Ministry chooses to walk away from these GSB decisions with impunity," said Thomas. "We shouldn"t be surprised, though. This sort of behavior is typical of a government whose overriding aim is to gut public services."
Jim Jurens OPSEU 647-222-3855