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NUPGE and OPSEU slam governments for misrepresenting part-time issue at the ILO.

We the North
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OPSEU’s quest to recognize the right of part-time Ontario college workers to union representation has been consistently stonewalled by the employer and the process at the Ontario Labour Relations Board.  So why did the Canadian and Ontario governments suggest to the ILO that all is OK? 

In a letter to the Director-General of the International Labour Organization, James Clancy, President of NUPGE stated clearly that the Canadian government armed with information from the Ontario Labour Relations Board(OLRB) has misrepresented the case of part-time workers which is still before the OLRB. First, the statement in the Canadian government’s report that “the OLRB reported that the parties had agreed to a process and timeline for moving the matter forward” is completely incorrect.  OPSEU’s request to recognize the right of part-timers to union representation has been consistently stonewalled by the process at the Ontario Labour Relations Board and, as well, there has been no political solution offered by the Ontario government. 

Second, the Canadian government’s statement that “The Government of Ontario emphasizes the importance of the adjudicative role played by the OLRB in the process of certification established by law and considers that it would be inappropriate to interfere with or influence the procedure.  It adds that this position is shared by the National Union of Public and General Employees(our emphasis).” On the contrary, we have made it clear in our bargaining process and in our presentations to the Ontario government, that political influence on the employer to grant voluntary recognition would be our preference. OPSEU is determined to continue its fight for the right of part-time workers in the 24 Ontario colleges to be represented by our union.

June 7, 2013
Mr. Guy Ryder
Director-General
International Labour Organization
International Labour Office
4, route des Morillons
CH-1211 Geneva 22 Switzerland  

Dear Director-General Ryder:

RE:     Response to the Report of the Committee of Experts on theApplication of Conventions and Recommendations – observations concerning Canada regarding Freedom of Association and  Protection of the Right to Organize Convention, 1948 (no. 87)

I am writing you on behalf of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) and our Ontario component, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU).  We would like to strongly register our objections to several of the comments made in the report of the Canadian government regarding compliance by the Canadian, provincial and territorial governments with Convention 87.  We specifically would like to address comments made in the government report regarding our complaint against the Ontario government regarding its role in continuing to deny to part-time employees of public colleges the right to organize and bargain collectively (Case No. 2430 – Canada).

The amended Colleges Collective Bargaining Act (CCBA) does give part-time academic staff and support staff in the colleges of Ontario the right to organize and to bargain collectively.  However, the Ontario government was not amenable to voluntary recognition.  OPSEU filed certification applications to represent both part-time academic and part-time support staff units.  Representation votes were held and the ballot boxes sealed pending a decision by the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) concerning the issues that remained in dispute between the parties.

First, the statement in the report that “the OLRB reported that the parties had agreed to a process and timeline for moving the matter forward” is completely incorrect.  The Ontario Labour Relations Board has provided contradictory rulings on the process of signing up and recognizing cards from academic and support staff.  OPSEU’s request to recognize the right of part-timers to union representation has been consistently stonewalled by process at the Ontario Labour Relations Board and as well, there has been no political solution offered by the Ontario government.

We find it incredible that the above statement is listed in the “Decisions taken by the Ontario Labour Relations Board concerning Public colleges’ part-time employees”.  In addition, there are three paragraphs relating to this decision which appear to suggest that the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) is to blame for “not providing material facts in support of its position…”, that “the parties had been working together…”, and that “the parties had reached agreement…”.  Nothing could be further from the truth on this matter.

Second, the following statement in the report is incorrect: “The Government of Ontario emphasizes the importance of the adjudicative role played by the OLRB in the process of certification established by law and considers that it would be inappropriate to interfere with or influence the procedure.  It adds that this position is shared by the National Union of Public and General Employees (our emphasis).”

NUPGE and OPSEU want to make it very clear that this position is not shared by either union body.  On the contrary, we have made it clear both in our bargaining process and our presentations to the Ontario government, that political influence on the employer to grant voluntary recognition would be our preference.

Third, since we strongly dispute the claims made by the Canadian and Ontario governments regarding further developments on Case No. 2430, we are requesting that the ILO ask the Canadian and Ontario governments to provide both the ILO and NUPGE/OPSEU with evidence supporting their stated claims that everything is fine and moving forward and that NUPGE shares the position of the government.

Please be advised that the National Union of Public and General Employees is more than willing to provide any further documentation or answer any questions the ILO may have with respect to the information contained in this letter.

Sincerely
James Clancy

National President

c.c. Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President & NUPGE Ontario Vice-President
Kenneth Georgetti, CLC President
Barb Byers, CLC Executive Vice-President