BC Green Party leader Andrew Weaver.
CHAD HIPOLITO / THE CANADIAN PRESS
VICTORIA — The NDP government’s looming changes to the province’s labour code should stick to recommendations made by an expert review panel, and not restart a fight over the use of secret ballots for employees seeking to form a union, says the Green party.Green leader Andrew Weaver said widely-expected labour code legislation next week should be “moderate and reasonable” if the NDP wants Green support to pass, and not a dramatic shift toward changes that will benefit the NDP’s traditional union organizations and backers.“What we’re trying to avoid is pendulum swings in labour policy,” said Weaver. “What happens is government changes and the labour code switches wildly from one side to the other.”The NDP minority government needs the Green party’s three votes to pass legislation.Weaver has long fought the NDP’s publicly-stated desire to change the current law that requires employees who want to unionize to take a vote by secret ballot, and replace it with a system called card check where a majority of union members must sign cards to certify. Card check makes it easier to certify new unions, but opponents say it can also allow intimidation.The B.C. Federation of Labour has been leading a campaign to pressure the Greens to change their minds.A three-person panel representing employers and unions released a report last year with 26 recommendations on changing the labour code, including removing education from essential service designation that limits strikes, reducing certification votes from 10 to five days, boosting fines, expanding successorship rules to building cleaning, security, bus transportation and healthcare sectors, and restrict employer communications “a statement of fact or opinion reasonable held” that would prevent anti-union campaigns.Weaver called it “a very thoughtful and comprehensive report.”“I hope the NDP listen to their expert advice and act accordingly,” he said. “If they ignore the expert advice that was given to them, we’ll push them back to the expert advice.”The panel was divided on secret ballots, but a two-person majority recommended it be retained.Labour minister Harry Bains said in a statement that the Greens are aware of his priorities.“We are hopeful that they will support, at minimum, the majority of both bills in principle given our shared perspective on the importance of both the Labour Relations Code and Employment Standards Act needing an update to reflect today’s world of work and the importance of fair and balanced labour laws,” said Bains.“I also continue to be grateful for and impressed with the work of the expert panel I appointed to review the Labour Relations Code and can assure you that their work is informing the amendment bill we intend to table soon.”Opposition B.C. Liberal president Paul Barbeau called secret ballot “an essential part of our democracy” and accused the NDP of trying to “undermine workers’ rights and tilt the playing field in favour of their friends and insiders,” in a fundraising email to party supporters Thursday.firstname.lastname@example.org/robshaw_vansun