“The Charest government knows this law will eventually be overturned in the Courts but yet steamrolls ahead anyway with a law that is clearly unconstitutional.” - James Clancy, NUPGE national president.
Ottawa (23 February 2011) – Jean Charest and his government show themselves to be nothing more than bullies for jamming back-to-work legislation through the Quebec legislature to end a strike of the province’s crown prosecutors, according to the National President of the 340,000-member National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE).
Less than one day after being introduced in the Quebec legislature, Charest’s Liberal government passed Bill 135: An Act to ensure the continuity of the provision of legal services within the Government and certain public bodies. The legislation ended a two week strike by the provinces 1,500 government lawyers crown prosecutors. It also imposed a five-year agreement on the lawyers with a six percent salary raise, far short of the 40 percent wage hike the Quebec Crown Prosecutors Association had been asking for during negotiations.
“The Charest government has clearly said to their lawyers and crown prosecutors if you don’t like our wage offer go on strike. But if you do exercise your right to strike, we’ll simply legislate it away from you,” said James Clancy, NUPGE national president.
In 2003, crown prosecutors asked that their salaries be set through binding arbitration as they are in all other provinces across Canada. The government refused their request and instead granted them the right to strike as the only method for settling a dispute in negotiations.
“They’re acting like school yard bullies. The government makes the rules but simply tears them up if they don’t work to their advantage. What’s worst is that these unjust actions also result in the loss of fundamental human rights for its employees.”
“The Charest government is clearly aware that its actions are a violation of basic human rights as defined in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This is not the first time they have been found to pass labour laws that violate the Charter. They know this law will eventually be overturned in the Courts but yet steamrolls ahead anyway with a law that is clearly unconstitutional.”
“Such flagrant disregard for human rights is not compatible with the values of Quebecers and I think the Liberal government will be shown that during the next provincial election,” added Clancy.
Quebec government lawyers are the lowest paid in Canada and have the highest workload. Currently there is one prosecutor per 16,500 people in Quebec compared to the national average of one for every 11,000 people.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE