12/07/2011 02:06 EST | Updated 02/06/2012 05:12 EST

Nova Scotia premier says no further labour laws on the government's agenda

HALIFAX - Premier Darrell Dexter says his government has no plans for further labour laws during its current mandate, even as it readies to push through a contentious bill that would impose first contracts in unionized workplaces.

Dexter wouldn't rule out further tweaking of labour rules and regulations, but told reporters Wednesday his government had no other major pieces of legislation in mind.

"What we are looking for is stability in labour relations," he said. "We think we've achieved that with the changes we've made and we don't see it as necessary to go any further."

The premier was questioned about Bill 102 following a speech to the Halifax Chamber of Commerce on the state of the province in which he didn't mention the furor around so-called first-contract arbitration.

The chamber, other business groups and major employers such as Michelin and Sobeys have come out against the bill, saying it would hurt the province's competitiveness.

Michelin has also said that it could hurt future investment by the company in the province.

Dexter told the business audience that he wanted to bring in the law during a time of labour peace so the government couldn't be accused of choosing sides in a dispute.

Dexter acknowledged there is disagreement over what some see as a pro-labour agenda. However, he said he believes that his government has good relations with business overall.

"We brought forward legislation ... that will benefit both employers and employees, and we have done what we think is right."

Chamber of Commerce president Valerie Payn said business has made its objections clear to the government, but is resigned to the fact that the first-contract bill will become law.

She said she believes the premier will approach labour law carefully in the future.

"I would assume that anything that this government does will be thought through and they'll weigh the pros and cons and how much it is worth to get new legislation through in the big picture," Payn said.

Bill 102 would allow a first collective agreement to be settled by an arbitrator or the province's labour board.