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Wednesday, December 31, 2008 

Who Made Rona Ambrose Boss?

Rona Ambrose, Federal Labour Minister, and dull light of the Harper Cabinet, is trying to push her weight around in the Ottawa transit strike. Out of the blue, and at the request of Ottawa's wingy mayor, Ms. Ambrose has ORDERED the striking transit workers to a mandatory vote by January 9th, on the most recent offer that management placed on the table. HUH?! Who the hell does she think she is?

Here's hoping that the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 279 launch an immediate court action to challenge the Minister's Order! Ms. Rona did this on New Years Eve, when access to the courts will be impossible until next Monday, January 5th due to the New Years holiday and weekend. This is how the Harper administration tries to bully their way around the nation these days.

Happy New Year to everyone (except of course, Ms. Ambrose, her boss, and colleagues! ... Idiots)!

Ottawa Citizen has more ....

Wonder if this move by the federal govt is even legal. How can the feds insert themselves into an essentially municipal matter?

I mean in BC, we had the BC Ferries kerfuffle whereby the BC Govt legislated the workers - after quite a lengthy strike - back to work. But even so, this was the province legislating on a service that is under provincial jurisdiction. Not so in the case of Ottawa transit. So how come the feds are getting involved?

Her carbon foot print was getting a bit too big that she could no longer fit into the Minister of Environment shoes.
She is just following orders.
What happens if they don't follow her order?

Apparently, (although I have not confirmed this) - for some reason the Ottawa Transit System is under Federal Jurisdiction (i.e. the Canada Labour Code).

Accordingly, there is a provision in the Canada Labour Code - Section 108 which sets out authority of the Minister to order a vote on an Employer's Offer. It is reproduced below:

Vote on Employer’s Offer

Minister may order vote to be held

108.1(1) Where notice to bargain collectively has been given under this Part, and the Minister is of the opinion that it is in the public interest that the employees in the affected bargaining unit be given the opportunity to accept or reject the offer of the employer last received by the trade union in respect of all matters remaining in dispute between the parties, the Minister may

(a) on such terms and conditions as the Minister considers appropriate, direct that a vote of the employees in the bargaining unit to accept or reject the offer be held as soon as possible; and

(b) designate the Board, or any other person or body, to be in charge of conducting that vote.

No effect on time limits or periods

(2) A direction under subsection (1) that a vote be held, or the holding of that vote, does not abridge or extend any time limit or period provided for in this Part, including those stipulated in section 89 for the acquisition of the right to lockout or strike.

Consequences of favourable vote

(3) Where the majority of the employees participating in the vote accept the employer’s last offer,

(a) the parties are bound by that offer and shall, without delay, enter into a collective agreement that incorporates the terms of that offer; and

(b) any lockout or strike not prohibited by this Part that is in progress when the Board or other person or body in charge of conducting the vote notifies the parties in writing of the employees’ acceptance shall cease forthwith.

Powers respecting vote

(4) The Board or other person or body in charge of conducting the vote shall determine any question that arises under this section, including any question relating to the conduct of the vote or the determination of its result.
1993, c. 42, s. 2.

You have to recognize that the Con$ are fundamentally hostile to organized labour - it reduces their cronies profits.

That Rona would make this move during parliament's prorogation is merely consistent with a party that does not want to be held accountable for its actions.

They are under federal jurisdiction because the buses cross interprovincial boundaries. That's why Mayor Larry is passing the buck to the feds instead of the provice (and instead of collective bargaining in good faith, which is what he should be doing instead of wasting time with this ridiculous final offer vote)

Apparently, (although I have not confirmed this) - for some reason the Ottawa Transit System is under Federal Jurisdiction (i.e. the Canada Labour Code).

I read yesterday, that it is covered by the federal law because OC Transpo operates both in Ottawa and Hull, which of course is across a provincial boundary.

As a resident of Ottawa, I would add this comment.

Neither side seems to care that much about the environmental dimension in this dispute.

This is a public transit service we are talking about.

Here we have a major metropolitan area with a population of approx one million that has been deprived of public transit for close to a month and no one seems to think this is a big deal.

Both sides believe our city can be deprived of an environmental alternative to the private automobile without consequence.

But there are consequences: downtown businesses have seen their pedestrian traffic plummet by 40%. Suburban malls have seen no decline because people drive their cars there. This will further depress the core areas and strengthen environmentally desastrous sprawl.

Also, according to pro-transit lobby groups like Transport 2000, after every public transit strike, ridership declines and takes a long time to recover as more people adopt the private automobile and lose faith in public transit, with all the consequences: sprawl, pollution, traffic deaths.

So, who speaks for transit, who speaks for the environment, who speaks for the hundreds of thousands of workers who depend on public transit? Who is showing the poorer workers any solidarity? The union? No. The city? No. Bloggers? No.

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