Protection for Precarious Workers in New Brunswick

February 18, 2010, 1:35 PM EST

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The government of New Brunswick has introduced new legislation that aims to improve working conditions and employment security for thousands of casual and part-time workers.

Bill 35, introduced on February 16, will amend the province's Public Service Labour Relations Act to allow civil servants in both casual and part-time positions to join a union immediately after being hired. The new legislation also guarantees wages and provides recall rights to these workers.

Currently, civil servants in the province must wait six months before gaining access to union rights, which includes collective bargaining and access to a formal grievance procedure. In many cases, employees would be laid off before they reached the qualifying date for unionization. Some have been unable to gain access to union protection for years.

This move is a major victory for labour unions in New Brunswick and is a major step forward to combating the rise of precarious work in Canada, said CAW Atlantic Canada Director Les Holloway.

Holloway said the new legislation is a testament to the hard work and determination of provincial labour unions for nearly two decades. A group of public and private sector unions in the province mounted a court case in 2007 challenging the government's decision to exclude casual workers from its definition of "employee" under the Public Service Labour Relations Act.

The new legislation is expected to come into force in June 2010.

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