Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in this debate on Bill C-30, an Act to amend the Public Service Staff Relations Act and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act.
As you know, I was active for 19 years in the labour movement in Quebec, and more particularly in the FTQ. Before that, I was a labour relations lawyer in Chile. So this is a subject matter in which I have some proficiency.
The right to organize and to bargain collectively has been considered important for a long time, and it is recognized in all democratic countries, by the International Labour Organization, and ratified by most countries. This right does not exclude public servants or other public employees. These employees are also covered by the international conventions of the ILO, and more particularly by conventions on the right to unionize and the right of collective bargaining.
All workers in the private sector, in public corporations or in the public sector enjoy this important right. They can organize and negotiate with their employer. In this case, the employer is the government. We should not discriminate against this group of workers, the members of the RCMP, because they are part of a law enforcement organization. They are unionized members just like all other public servants. They should also be able to negotiate with their employer, which is the government. I see no reason why they should not have the collective bargaining right which is provided for in the Public Service Staff Relations Act.
I am against the militarization of police forces. I think the members of police forces have rights that must be recognized, including the collective bargaining right. It helps to create a better and healthier work environment, particularly between the employees and their boss. When working conditions are set unilaterally by the employer, the employees are, of course, annoyed and dissatisfied. However, working conditions resulting from free negotiations between the employees and the employer will naturally have a positive impact on the job atmosphere.
This is why I rigorously object to this bill. I am also against this bill because it excludes this group of public servants, i.e. RCMP officers, from the occupational safety and health provisions, which apply equally to all employees and workers. I do not see any reason why this group of employees should also be excluded from provisions which protect the rest of the workers.
Also, I do not see any valid reason why this group of public servants, employees or workers should not be entitled to the bilingual bonus. This bonus was introduced for all public servants. These people belong to the public service. They should be entitled to this benefit, which is important because they have to work in English, in French and even sometimes in another language, given the increasing number of immigrants who speak other languages, like Spanish or Italian. I was very glad to meet with officers of the RCMP who could speak Spanish, my mother tongue. These people should be entitled to the bilingual bonus if they are bilingual, that is if they speak both French and English.
For all these reasons, I am against Bill C-30 and, of course, I support the proposals put forward earlier by my colleague from the Bloc Quebecois, the hon. member for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve.