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January 30, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 30, 2015

OFL Statement by Sid Ryan: Labour Unions Will Challenge Past and Future Laws Armed with Supreme Court Ruling on Right to Strike

Today’s Supreme Court of Canada ruling is a game-changer in Canadian labour relations. Over the past decade we have seen governments at every level unilaterally strip a broad spectrum of public and private sector workers of their collective bargaining rights. Today’s decision will change all that.

To say that the Labour movement shares a collective sense of vindication doesn’t adequately capture the magnitude of this judicial victory. In its judgment on the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour v. Saskatchewan, the Supreme Court has confirmed what trade unions have been saying for years: union rights, including the right to strike, are a fundamental human right that is protected by our country’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In recent years, we have seen several high profile strikes and lockouts in which governments have swooped in with draconian legislation to declare employees as ‘essential services’ in order to order them back-to-work. Among those who have or could be affected are workers in municipal transit, shipping, rail, airlines, postal delivery, public health nursing, community home care and many others.

Coming hot on the heals of last week’s ruling that granted the RCMP the right to collective representation, Canada’s highest court has once again defended the essential rights of workers at a time when all governments are trying to take them away. Today’s ruling raises the bar for politicians, like Rob Ford and Stephen Harper, who would no longer be able to appeal to public inconvenience as sufficient cause for stripping workers of their right to strike. In instances where workers truly do provide services that are essential to public health and safety, the Court has added restrictions that would require employers to provide an alternative mechanism for dispute resolution, such as arbitration.

This is great news for collective bargaining and it is great news for democracy. The Supreme Court has restored fairness to the playing field and it puts negotiation back in the centre of labour relations.

The Ontario Federation of Labour is putting every government in the province on notice that labour unions will be coming together to challenge legislation – past and future – in light of the Supreme Court’s judgment today to ensure that they conform with the government’s obligations to respect the fundamental rights of workers.

On behalf of the one million unionized workers in Ontario, I want to congratulate the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour and those unions who participated in this successful challenge to the Government of Saskatchewan’s unconstitutional labour laws. Your success is a victory for the entire labour movement in Canada.”

Sid Ryan,
President of the Ontario Federation of Labour

-30-

For further information:
Sid Ryan,
OFL President: 416-209-0066 or @SidRyan_OFL
Joel Duff
, OFL Communications Director: 416-707-0349 or jduff@ofl.ca

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Tags

  • Charter of Rights and Freedoms
  • Essential Services
  • RCMP
  • Right to Strike
  • Rob Ford
  • Saskatchewan Federation of Labour
  • Saskatchewan Federation of Labour v. Saskatchewan
  • Stephen Harper
  • Supreme Court of Canada
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