CBABC submitted a letter to the Minister of Finance and Attorney General expressing deep concern over unilateral action in the face of an ongoing process regarding Bill 5, Public Service Labour Relations Amendment Act, 2023.
In November 2022, the BC Government Lawyers Association (“BCGLA”) sought to be certified as the bargaining agent for approximately 350 public sector lawyers. The application is currently pending before the Labour Relations Board, and the government just filed its response on February 6, 2023.
Bill 5 circumvents this application for union certification and, if passed, compels most of the BC government’s in-house lawyers into an existing bargaining unit of the government’s choice, rather than being able to exercise the freedom to choose their association. It is our understanding that the proposed legislation was tabled without consultation with BCGLA or legal counsel within government. CBABC is concerned that the government has not understood the unique role of public sector lawyers who must ensure government acts in accordance with the rule of law, but who cannot withdraw when the instructions are contrary to the rule of law.
We urge the province to reconsider proceeding with Bill 5 and instead allow BCGLA’s application for certification to continue. Should such policy change be a priority, CBABC calls for the government – before advancing legislation – to engage with its employees with respect and allow appropriate time for fulsome discussion.
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