12/07/2015 07:40 EST | Updated 12/07/2016 05:12 EST

Liberals To Give RCMP Collective Bargaining Rights

OTTAWA — RCMP officers would be allowed to engage in collective bargaining under legislation to be introduced by the Liberal government.

The bill, to be tabled early in the new year, will give rank-and-file Mounties the ability to choose representation and negotiate with management, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said Monday.

"The government of Canada is obviously anxious to move this initiative forward just as quickly as we can," Goodale told the House of Commons.

In January, the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed the right of RCMP officers to collective bargaining and gave the government a year to create a new labour-relations regime - a deadline that will be missed, since the House will not return until late January.

The high court did not explicitly state that Mounties have the right to form a union, but the justices effectively opened the door to that possibility.

Currently, RCMP officers have voluntary associations funded by members' dues that work with management to establish pay and benefits, but the top brass has final say.

Goodale said the legislation would provide for:

— A single, national bargaining unit for all RCMP regular members and reservists, excluding managers;

— Binding arbitration as the mandatory dispute-resolution process for bargaining purposes, with no right to strike;

— Preservation of the recourse measures in the RCMP Act for issues relating to member conduct and discipline.

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