Saturday, April 16, 2011

Ruling places essential services legislation on watch

By Trish Elliott
Act Up in Sask
Friday, 15 April 2011

A B.C. Supreme Court ruling sets a precedent for Saskatchewan’s essential services legislation to be declared unconstitutional, according to labour leaders in Regina and Ottawa. Premier Brad Wall must “pay attention” to the ruling, stated Larry Hubich, president of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour.

“Yesterday (April 13), the courts once again ruled that the actions of the Campbell government violate Canada's constitution,” said Hubich. “I suggest to you, that Mr. Wall has been following disgraced past B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell's playbook chapter and verse.”

In a landmark decision, the court ruled against legislation that imposed a single collective agreement on teachers and limited the range of items teachers could include in contract negotiations. In the ruling, Madam Justice Griffin declared that Bills 27 and 28 were a substantial interference in bargaining rights and infringed on freedom of association guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“While not a perfect tool, collective bargaining has long been seen as the best vehicle for resolving differences between management and labour,” stated Justice Griffin.

The case was first brought forward by the National Union of Provincial Government Employees in a complaint to the International Labour Organization in 2002. A third bill named at the time, Bill 29, effecting health care workers, was subsequently declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2007.

“We now have four years of consistent jurisprudence that recognizes the constituional obligation of governments to respect the collective bargaining process and refrain from enacting legislation that strips away the Charter rights of their employees,” said NUPGE president James Clancy.

The decisions cast doubt on the future of two pieces of Saskatchewan legislation that have already received strong international criticism. In March 2010, the ILO rebuked the Saskatchewan government for Bill 5, which can be used to deny almost all public servants the right to strike, and Bill 6, which places restrictions on union organizing. At the time, the UN body instructed Premier Brad Wall to amend the bills through consultation with workers’ representatives.

In response, Labour Minister Rob Norris publicly dismissed the directive, saying the ILO’s analysis was incomplete and not the organization’s best work.

Related: Hey, Mr. Wall, pay attention – Larry Hubich’s blog
ILO blasts anti-labour laws (March 2010)
Saskatchewan Party government flouts ILO (March 2010)

1 comment:

  1. Shades of Wisconsin. Canadians have a better constitution and Thank God do not elect judges.