Long overdue labour legislation regrettably ignores agriculture workers

UFCW Canada is dismayed to see that two private members bills intended to enhance workers' rights in Ontario neglect to provide agriculture workers with organizing and collective bargaining rights.

“While the two bills introduced by NDP Labour Critic Taras Natyshak will help restore the labour relations balance in this province, they do not address the plight of Ontario's farm workers. Thousands of men and women who toil in the agricultural sector lack collective bargaining and unionization rights, and these bills fail to rectify their situation," says UFCW Canada National President Wayne Hanley.

To be sure, the two bills contain several badly-needed measures that would benefit thousands of workers across Ontario. The Fairness for Employees Act would provide successor rights in the contract services sector, immediate reinstatement during an organizing campaign, and improvements to the interest arbitration on first contracts. The Equal Rights at Work Act would reinstate card-based certification, reemployment after a strike or lockout, and an Employee Bill of Rights that would make information regarding workers’ legal rights to form unions available in the workplace. However, neither piece of legislation is as comprehensive as it could be.

“Labour reform is long overdue, and although these two bills represent a positive step forward for workers in this province, we hope that Ontario's Liberals and New Democrats will cooperate to help agriculture workers by granting them the rights that other workers already enjoy. The ability to join a union and bargain collectively should be extended to every worker in Ontario," says Brother Hanley.