“Contract flipping” protections among recommendations to change Labour Code

Working people employed in low-paid, precarious jobs will benefit from changes proposed by the BC Labour Relations Code review panel. The labour code is the main legislation governing employment standards  in the province’s unionized workplaces.

Labour Minister Harry Bains convened the independent panel of experts to recommend improvements to BC’s labour code, which had not been reviewed  since 2003. According to the government, the objective was to ensure BC’s unionized workplaces “support fair laws for workers and businesses that are consistent with the labour rights and protections enjoyed by other Canadians.” [source] The panel, which consisted of a labour representative, an employer representative and a chair person, held  public consultations across BC last spring.

“Contact flipping harms thousands of service workers who already struggle to make ends meet. It causes insecurity and condemns these workers to precarious, low-wage employment,” said Secretary-Treasurer Kim Novak.

Contract flipping allows employers to use the tendering process to arbitrarily terminate collective agreements and maintain poverty level wages primarily in construction, food and building services, security and health care.

The BC Federation of Labour, which represents 500,000 unionized workers across BC, called on the government to stand up for low-paid workers by including the recommended protections against contract flipping in legislation brought forward next year.

According to BC Fed president Irene Lanzinger, when workers are flipped, they lose their jobs, wages and benefits, their collective agreements and their union. “One of the most important things the government can do to build an economy that works for everyone is to improve the well-being of workers in contracted services by ensuring they have some form of job security — called successorship — to address issues around poverty and inequality.”

Lanzinger said the labour movement doesn’t agree with all of the panel’s findings but called the recommendations “measured.” “They’ll help foster a more constructive labour relations environment to restore fairness and balance to the labour code.”

The public is invited to review the recommendations here and submit written feedback by November 30.