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CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. — Leaders of UPEI’s college union consider Bloyce Thompson, the province’s minister answerable for labour issues, is hindering their contract negotiations with UPEI and might be interfering with their constitutionally protected proper to collectively discount.
Michael Arfken, president of the UPEI School Affiliation (UPEIFA), says his union is getting ready to take authorized motion towards Thompson, after a conciliation course of overseen by his division has dragged on since Aug. 5.
In a Dec. 12 interview with SaltWire Community, Arfken mentioned his union plans to file a judicial assessment of Thompson’s choice to increase the conciliation course of over the past 4 months if no progress is achieved this month.
Conciliation is a course of by which each an employer and a union try to resolve a dispute by the help of a 3rd social gathering – usually a government-appointed conciliator.
Arfken mentioned the conciliation course of is meant to be short-term.
“It is purported to be a 10-day course of however the minister can train his discretion to increase that course of. And he has completed so on a number of events,” Arfken mentioned. “We consider that the minister will not be exercising his discretion appropriately.”
Arfken mentioned the 4 months of conciliation, which he says have didn’t resolve most points, has saved his union from continuing to authorized strike motion, which might put extra stress on the employer.
“What meaning is we’re mainly in negotiations with our employer with one hand tied behind our again,” he mentioned.
The UPEIFA is looking for wage will increase that deal with the excessive charges of inflation within the province, entry to advantages for contract college and extra analysis funding.
Arfken additionally mentioned the union wish to see the college rent extra full-time college.
“We’re asking for a extra sustainable stage. One thing that is going to match enrolment. So when enrolments improve, you might have extra full-time college to make sure and protect our instructional high quality,” Arfken mentioned.
Thompson declines remark
SaltWire requested an interview with Thompson however was instructed he wouldn’t remark. A consultant from the Division of Financial Progress, Tourism and Tradition mentioned the conciliation course of is a confidential course of.
Thompson did touch upon the negotiations within the legislature when requested in regards to the prolonged conciliation course of by Inexperienced MLA Trish Altass on Nov. 29.
Thompson mentioned there was a “giant listing” of points between the union and UPEI.
“I believe there was 30 gadgets that they’re working their manner by. I heard the method isn’t going fairly as fast as they need however it’s shifting as quick as it may,” Thompson mentioned. “If we come to some extent the place we’ve got to take motion, we are going to.”
In an electronic mail, Nicole Phillips, director of communications for UPEI, mentioned conciliation was initially requested by the UPEIFA and that it has resulted in some progress.
“The College believes that the conciliation course of helps the events resolve the numerous proposals and points raised by the UPEI FA and that the events ought to proceed to satisfy with the conciliator,” Phillips wrote in an electronic mail.
Arfken mentioned his union has secured the assist of the Canadian Affiliation of College Lecturers (CAUT), which maintains a labour protection fund to assist defray the price of strike pay or different arbitration prices.
He mentioned the drawn-out conciliation has shocked tutorial colleagues elsewhere in Canada.
“This authorities intervention is a limitation on our members’ constitutional proper to withdraw their labour as a part of collective bargaining,” Arfken mentioned.
His union has requested the province finish the conciliation course of.
“The federal government has intervened in our collective bargaining sufficient. And we do not assume it is applicable or useful for them to take action going additional,” Arfken mentioned. “On the finish of the day, that is what is going on to stop job motion. It should be the employer tabling a good and cheap provide that addresses the substantial considerations that our members have.”
Stu Neatby is a political reporter with the SaltWire Community in Prince Edward Island. He could be reached by electronic mail at [email protected] and adopted on Twitter @stu_neatby.