Surprise Amendments to the Newfoundland and Labrador Labour Relations Act

 Yesterday, Monday June 2, 2014, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador introduced brand new (and unexpected) amendments to the Labour Relations Act. The full text of the proposed amendment can be accessed here. Bill 22, if it is passed, would amend the Act in several ways, notably:

  • To amend the certification process to remove the possibility of card-based automatic certification.
  • To remove the requirement for the parties to formally request a conciliation board.
  • To rearrange and restate provisions relating to conciliation proceedings, strikes, and lockouts.

Bill 22 reverses substantial changes to the certification process that were introduced just two years ago, in June 2012. The most significant change in 2012 was the introduction of a card-based certification system, granting automatic union certification where 65% or more of the employees in the bargaining unit sign a union membership card. The 40% threshold to trigger a certification vote was maintained in 2012.

The proposed 2014 amendments remove the automatic certification provision and return the Act to its former, vote-based certification model. A vote will only occur where there is more than 40% support for the union, based on a review of union membership cards signed and submitted to the Labour Relations Board.

Bill 22 also replaces the entirety of Parts V and VI of the Act, which deal with conciliation proceedings and strikes/lockouts, respectively. The changes relate to a more significant emphasis on conciliation proceedings, and removal of the requirement to request that conciliation proceedings take place.

 

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU?

So far, Bill 22 has received only its first of three readings in the House of Assembly. The second reading is set to take place today, June 3, 2014. We will be watching the progress of the newly proposed legislation closely, and will be sure to update you if and when it is passed into law.

If you are undergoing certification proceedings at the moment, the Bill provides that the current model, including the automatic certification provision, will remain in effect for any certification drive commenced while the current Act is in force.

The foregoing is intended for general information only and is not intended as legal advice.  If you have any questions, visit our Labour and Employment Group. For more on our firm see www.stewartmckelvey.com.

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