L'Auteur souligne d'abord l'évolution favorable de la CTCC dans ses effectifs, sa pensée et son action, depuis la dernière guerre mondiale, son attitude plus critique à l'égard de la législation provinciale du travail et le durcissement de ses relations avec le patronat québécois. Il regroupe ensuite les principales revendications de la CTCC en matière législative, repassant les principales lois provinciales du travail. Sa conclusion est que, depuis dix ans, la CTCC n'a pas contribué pour la peine à une modification de ces lois.
This article deals briefly with the attitudes of the CCCL toward labour legislation in Quebec during the last decade together with the background of events which explain the evolution of such attitudes.
Right after World War II, the CCCL truly becomes a labour movement, seasoned, aggressive, and well on its way toward adulthood. In 1948, its membership has skyrocketed to 82,000. It enjoys an especially vigorous leadership, well-trained for the job of internal education and external action which lies ahead. The CCCL passes gradually from the defensive to the offensive.
In the legislative field, the CCCL, through experience, becomes aware, not only of the validity of the principles which are the basis for most Quebec labour laws, but also of the practical weaknesses which diminish their value. And therefore, it calls, not for their repeal, but for their improvement through amendments which it advocates with precision and consistency in order to adjust the provincial labour legislation more effectively to the postwar economic and social facts of life.
The CCCL's critical attitude intends to be constructive; on the positive side, for instance, it has consistently advocated the enactment of a Labour Code with ib. own autonomy and collective outlook, and with specialized labour courts to administer justice in employer-employee relations.
Those relations, after the war, became tenser and suffer as the parties were left considerably more to themselves, with less government interventionism. Conflicts between the CCCL and some employers developed into social upheavals which were complicated by political elements at the provincial level; so much so that since then, relationships between the CCCL leadership and the provincial government have been for the most part negative, marked by distrust and enmity.
The CCCL regards the Professional Syndicates Act as antiquated and restrictive in many of its stipulations and conditions (discretion granted the provincial secretary, modification of by-laws, powers of the syndicate), while it endorses the general principle of legal personality for labour organizations and wants it to be applied compulsorily to all of them, without restrictions and subject to no personal fancies.
The Collective Agreement Act, according to the CCCL, is also poorly adjusted to the economic realities of our day, since it is a product of the Depression of the thirties when competition had to be regulated by applying minimum standards for wages and working conditions to all business concerns, whether unionized or not. In a period of prosperity, juridical extension might serve as an excuse to deny unions the advantages of more generous contracts with individual employers; minimums determined by the Act would easily become maximums in the eyes of those employers, who would even refuse to enter into private negotiations with a free union, thus reducing the efficiency of unionization. "Why a union with dues and fights ahead, when a decree yields the same results, in practice?", workers are bound to ask themselves. In view of the above-mentioned ambiguity, the CCCL has insisted on the need for a clarification of the Act so that unionization be favoured by the possibility of genuine collective bargaining at the level of the individual firm. Arbitrariness in the adoption and modification of decrees has also been a target of the CCCL, which has demanded that public and political bodies also be subject to the Act, and that parity committees be granted more extended powers in some matters, while subjected to stricter controls in some others.
The Labour Relations Act, as the backbone of the Quebec labour legislation, has been the object of many suggestions and demands by the CCCL during the last decade. The Act, according to the CCCL, should outlaw company unions, i.e. management-inspired and management-controlled local unions, since these are contrary to the very spirit of the law. On the other hand, undue delays in the settlement of labour disputes cause great harm to the unions, "cooling-off" periods thus becoming rather "warming-up" periods or else encouraging unions to turn to technical "illegality" in order to get "justice". Finally, the CCCL has much to say against the composition, the legal status, and the discretion correspondent to the administrative and quasi-judiciary powers of the Labour Relations Board. The members of the Board are not enough representative and independent; they should be submitted to judgment by regular courts when their decisions are deemed unjust and harmful; they should be compelled to hear both parties before rendering their awards; they should have to motivate their decisions, to publish their documents; finally, they have no ground to refuse the granting of recognition certificates except that of lack of a majority in a given bargaining unit; any other consideration is irrelevant.
Lastly, the Public Services Employees Disputes Act is challenged by the CCCL in that it denies too many groups of employees the right of efficient association and the right to strike, which are both essential today and should be denied only in cases of absolute necessity, with adequate compensation to the employees involved through binding and equitable arbitration, possibly with a right of appeal at that level. The general conclusion is that the CCCL, despite constant efforts, has exerted very little, if any, influence on the Quebec labour legislation during the last decade.
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CARDIN, JEAN-RÉAL, avocat (R.C L., McGill), maître en Relations industrielles (Université de Montréal), études graduées en Economique, Sociologie et Relations industrielles (Université de Chicago), et directeur de la Section des relations industrielles de l'Université de Montréal.