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Employers’ council urges government impartiality in labour dispute

Newfoundland and Labrador Employers’ Council executive director Richard Alexander.
Newfoundland and Labrador Employers’ Council executive director Richard Alexander. - -File photo

The Newfoundland and Labrador Employers’ Council is “exceptionally concerned” about comments made by politicians in relation to the labour dispute between Unifor and DJ Composites in Gander.

In a news release issued Wednesday morning, the employers’ council urged both Premier Ball and Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie to remain impartial.

Earlier this week, Crosbie called on the premier to open the House of Assembly so MHAs could debate solutions to the dispute.

For its part, the government had previously avoided getting involved, but this week Ball is speaking with both sides in an effort to get them back to the negotiating table.

The employers’ council statement expressed concern that the government and the Opposition “appear to be conceding to Unifor’s demands that the House of Assembly be opened to pass legislation to ‘solve’ this private dispute.”

It went on to say Unifor has “resorted to extremely aggressive tactics” and if the government gives in to Unifor’s demands it will encourage similar activities in the future.

“Legislative intervention by a government in a private labour dispute involving non-essential services is unprecedented and will be exceptionally damaging to our province’s labour relations climate, and our economy,” the release stated.

If the government imposes binding arbitration, the employers’ council said, it could lengthen future disputes, as unions would be more likely to hold out longer if there’s a possibility of government intervention.

“There is no legitimate public policy reason for government to impose binding arbitration for private, non-essential services,” employers’ council executive director Richard Alexander was quoted saying in the release.

“Employers feel that these political comments are threatening the right of all employers in this province to negotiate an agreement, due to public pressure from a union.”

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