Government extends collective bargaining rights to casual employees

FREDERICTON – Legislation has been passed that will extend collective bargaining rights to casual government employees, Human Resources Minister Rick Brewer announced today.

Amendments to the Public Service Labour Relations Act repealed a section that had excluded casual employees from collective bargaining until they had worked for at least six months. Employees will now be part of a union from the first day of employment.

“These amendments will allow casual workers in all parts of the public service to have employee status on the first day of employment,” said Brewer. “This will allow them to join a union immediately and have their terms of employment covered and negotiated under a collective agreement.”

Basic entitlements for casual employees, such as 80 per cent of the applicable job rate, seniority, the right to file a grievance and to be recalled seasonally if work performance is satisfactory, will come into effect June 17 when the legislation is proclaimed. The province will negotiate other
terms and conditions of employment for casual employees with each union.

“For over 25 years, public sector unions have been seeking collective bargaining rights for casual employees,” said Danny Légère, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees – NB. “We are looking forward to representing casual employees at the bargaining table to improve on their working conditions, wages and quality of life.”

“The number of casual employees varies by season and fluctuates between 7,000 and 9,000 people throughout all government operations. We are pleased with Premier Graham following through with his commitment that he gave prior to being elected premier to amend legislation so that casual employees would have the right to the collective bargaining process,” Légère added.

In June 2009, Justice Paulette Garnett ruled that the definition of employee in the Public Service Labour Relations Actviolated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by excluding casual workers from collective bargaining. The province chose not to appeal the decision and was given 12 months to amend the legislation.

“Over the past 12 months, our government has been working diligently with union leaders to address the concerns of casual employees,” said Brewer. “These amendments have been developed after extensive consultation with our union partners and will improve working conditions for casual employees across our province.”