Well, I think after this week’s postal-related gong show (let’s call it what it is here) on Parliament Hill, I think you can stick a fork in collective bargaining when it comes to government operated organizations.
I’ve personally never been involved in a union or union negotiations, but it makes sense that the two parties try and look after their best interests. If they’re unsuccessful in bargaining then striking or lock-outs is the next step to up the pressure to get the two groups back to the table, and if that still doesn’t work then going to binding arbitration makes sense. And if the two still won’t agree, then either the job action carries on or, if it is an essential service, back to work legislation becomes needed. But for that back to work legislation to undermine the original pay increase offered by the employer to the employee is really a slap in the face of the workers and the process as a whole. More so, going back to the original point, proposing legislation that undermines the pay increases offered by management gives the company absolutely zero incentive to get back to the table, to agree to arbitration or to take any steps whatsoever to resolve the matter without government intervention.
As an analogy let’s say you want to buy a car. You offer the dealer $18,000, the dealer comes back and says he won’t accept less than $22,000. Someone comes in and says ‘If you don’t agree on a price in five minutes, the car will be sold for $15,000’. In that situation, are you going to try and resolve the issue with the car dealer or are you going to sit on your butt and keep your mouth shut for five minutes knowing a better deal is coming your way if you don’t reach an agreement.
The sheer ridiculous of it all boggles the mind and, based on the precedent set by this decision, makes me feel sorry for any union that has a dispute with the Federal Government in the next four years. It basically says to managers, ‘don’t worry, we got your back’. And the truth is, since the Conservatives have a majority, there isn’t a damn thing anyone can do to stop this from happening again. People can rally, people can write letters, politicians can stall for more than 50 hours non-stop – and the government can do what it wants anyway.
It certainly doesn’t give managers incentive to resolve matters quickly, but I think it may have succeeded in forcing unions take a closer look at potentially unwanted offers they receive…