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Feds study impacts of work stoppages on businesses

OTTAWA -- The federal government has released a report that attempts to explain the causes and impacts of strikes and lockouts to the nation's federally regulated private sector.

Rona Ambrose, Minister of Labour, made public the report this week, Work Stoppages in the Federal Private Sector: Innovative Solutions. Peter Annis, an expert in industrial relations, was the lead author of the study.

Ambrose will now conduct consultations to modernize labor standards under Part III of the Canada Labour Code to "ensure that they remain relevant and effective in the 21st-century economy."

Ottawa wants to measure the impacts to the
economy from labor disruptions

"The Government of Canada is concerned with the effects that work stoppages have on the lives of Canadians and on the economy as a whole," said Minister Ambrose.

"The work environment has changed considerably over the years and labor standards need to allow workers and businesses to better respond to a more modern workplace -- especially in "this time of global economic uncertainty."

Ambrose has asked officials to examine further steps with respect to the three options that reached consensus support among stakeholders:

They include: the establishment of an advisory council to provide the Minister with input on labor issues; strengthening of the Preventive Mediation Program administered by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service; and a review of the processes of the Canada Industrial Relations Board to improve the timeliness of its decisions.

Forty-nine union representatives and union councils, 32 employers and employer organizations and 15 arbitrators, academics and other industrial relations experts participated in the study.

The federally regulated jurisdiction represents 8.5 percent of the Canadian labor force, covering approximately 46,000 workplaces and 1.1 million workers in the federal private sector and Crown corporations.

This includes Canadians working in large segments of the trucking industry, as well as railways, ports and shipping companies, airlines, broadcasting and telecommunications companies and postal services.

The Canadian transport sector, particularly the railways and ports, is constantly under the threat of strike action. CN Rail and the Vancouver Port, alone, have experienced about half a dozen labor disruptions over the last eight years.

The whole report is available on the Labour Program's Web site at www.labour.gc.ca.


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