PM Urged to Reject Compensation Ceilings for Public Service Workers

February 19, 2009, 9:51 AM EST

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Final approval of the Expenditure Restraint Act will impose compensation "ceilings" on hundreds of thousands of unionized public service workers until 2011 and amounts to interference with free collective bargaining, CAW President Ken Lewenza says.

Lewenza outlines profound concerns about the act in a February 18 letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Lewenza urges Harper and other party leaders "to reject this blatant and unnecessary interference with free collective bargaining."

The Expenditure Restraint Act, which is contained within the government's Bill C-10, has received second reading by MPs in the House of Commons.

Compensation of workers for their labour, like other terms and conditions, must be negotiated with their bargaining agent, Lewenza said. In a democratic society it must not be imposed by administrative fiat or force of law.

Hundreds of CAW members will be directly affected by this bill, including those in CAW Local 2182, which represents Coast Guard Marine Communication and Traffic Services officers and CAW Local 5454, who are air traffic controllers responsible for enforcement and regulation.

"The vast majority of these members, being essential to the safety and security of air and sea navigation, do not have the right to strike," CAW national representative Joel Fournier said. "By this action, Parliament would deprive these workers of their right to negotiate a fair and equitable collective agreement."

An economic downturn is a time for all of society to pull together in a spirit of cooperation and to find solutions. "It must not serve as an occasion to suppress fundamental democratic rights."

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