The Employers’ Council is taking issue with comments Premier Dwight Ball and PC leader Ches Crosbie have made surrounding potential government intervention in in an ongoing labour dispute between Unifor and DJ Composites.

Unifor has asked Premier Ball to open the House of Assembly to pass legislation surrounding binding arbitration if DJ Composites, a private employer, does not reach a collective agreement with the union within a week. On Monday, Premier Ball said that such action is an option that is on the table. On Tuesday, PC leader Ches Crosbie issued a statement calling on Ball to open the House of Assembly to debate “solutions to this dispute.”

According to a press release from the Employers Council, they are concerned that government and the opposition appear to be conceding to Unifor’s demands that the House of Assembly be opened to pass legislation to “solve” this private dispute.

“While the length of this dispute is concerning, Unifor has resorted to extremely aggressive tactics, including illegal picketing, building a barricade around the plant to shut down operations, and producing a video designed to shame replacement workers who were acting completely legally,” the statement reads. “Government giving in to Unifor’s demands encourages these types of activities in the future.”

The Employers Council also notes that legislative intervention by a government in a private labour dispute involving non-essential services is unprecedented and will be “exceptionally damaging to our province’s labour relations climate, and our economy.”

The Employers Council is asking that government remain impartial in this and any private labour dispute.

“There is no legitimate public policy reason for government to impose binding arbitration for private, non-essential services. It is an unprecedented extension of government involvement into private business affairs,” said Richard Alexander, Employers’ Council Executive Director. “Comments by government and the opposition regarding this manner have sent a very concerning message to every employer and potential investor in NL. Collective bargaining is recognized as a constitutionally protected right. Employers feel that these political comments are threatening the right of all employers in this province to negotiate an agreement, due to public pressure from a union.”