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CAUT Bulletin Archives

February 2003

Public-Sector Labour Relations in an Era of Restraint and Restructuring

Gene Swimmer, ed. Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press, 2001; 232 pp; paper $24.95 CA.
The 1990s in Canada will probably go down as the most stressful decade for public-sector industrial relations since the inception, 25 years earlier, of collective bargaining in the public service. Government debt and deficits became the rationale for downsizing, outsourcing, privatization, layoffs, buyouts, and early retirement packages at both the federal and provincial levels. When workers’ bargaining units did not bend to government demands at the negotiating table, and when their leaders did not blink at the threat of restrictive legislation, then governments of both the right and the left at times found it expedient to legislate rule changes to suit their fiscal or ideological purposes. The contributors to Public-Sector Labour Relations examine in depth the events of recent years in the public service of six jurisdictions — Nova Scotia, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, British Columbia, and the federal government. Trends in the other five Canadian provinces are also considered. Although collective bargaining is still alive, a major conclusion of this study is that collective bargaining in the Canadian public sector is decidedly not well.
Review produced from information supplied by publisher.