Premier Dalton McGuinty is behaving no better on workers' rights than former Tory Premier Mike Harris, says UFCW Canada.
Toronto (15 Jan. 2009) - The Ontario Liberal government's decision to appeal a landmark decision on collective bargaining rights for farm workers is reminiscent of the anti-labour policies of former Tory Premier Mike Harris, says the United Food and Commerical Workers Union (UFCW Canada).
The province has announced it will appeal a November decision by the Ontario Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Wayne Hanley, national president of UFCW Canada, says the decision amounts to "cynical politics - played out on the backs of these workers to protect the privileges and special interests of the agriculture lobby."
"Dalton McGuinty has taken a page right out of the Mike Harris playbook. He's more interested in scoring political points than doing the right thing," Hanley says.
The Ontario court struck down key parts of the Agricultural Employees Protection Act (AEPA), saying its prohibition against organizing and bargaining collectively violated the workers' right to Freedom of Association under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom.
The court ordered the province - by November 2009 - to provide the farm workers with sufficient legislative protection to enable them to bargain collectively like other workers in the province.
"McGuinty is acting like it is 1995 all over again," said Hanley, noting that stripping farm workers of their right to unionize was one of the first moves Harris made as premier.
"To attempt to drag this issue back to the highest court in the land again, shows total disrespect for Ontario farm workers — and for Ontario taxpayers who've already been forced by their government to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal costs to delay and deny the democratic rights of these workers," he said.
The Supreme Court is not expected to indicate for several months whether it will consent to hear the appeal.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) signed a protocol with UFCW Canada in February 2004 offering support and assistance in the campaign to organize and offer full union services to agricultural workers. 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
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