"This 30 year struggle shows that Canada needs to improve its pay equity laws to ensure this injustice never happens again. Women must be treated and compensated fairly in every workplace." - James Clancy, NUPGE President
Ottawa (23 Nov. 2011) - The Supreme Court of Canada has made one of the most historic decisions on the issue of equal pay for work of equal value by ruling in favour of the women, and their union, who have been fighting for pay equity for almost 30 years.
The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) first filed its pay equity complaint against Canada Post in 1983 on behalf of 2,300 clerical members who were consistently making less money than their male counterparts doing the same work. It was one of the first cases to make the argument that this kind of discriminatory behaviour was illegal.
In 2005, 12 years later, and endless amounts of studying the issue, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled that Canada Post had indeed broken the law by underpaying its female clerical and support workers. The ruling granted workers $150 million in damages. Immediately, Canada Post went to court to appeal the decision and it was overturned.
The Supreme Court, after hearing arguments from PSAC, Canada Post and the Human Rights Commission, upheld the tribunal's original decision. In a rare move, this decision was released directly from the Supreme Court bench by Chief Justice Beverly McLaughlin, speaking on behalf of a unanimous court.
Canada Post has indicated it will abide by the ruling. The union press the employer to release the funds to the affected women who worked for the company between 1983 and 2011.
In 2009, the Harper government passed the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act which removed the right of public sector workers to collectively file complaints on pay equity with the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC). The Act however does not apply to private sector workers employed in federal regulated workplaces and employees of most federal crown corporations like Canada Post.
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