Canadian Foundation for Labour Rights established

CFLR to be a national voice promoting labour rights as an important means to strengthening democracy, equality and economic prosperity in Canada

Ottawa (25 Oct. 2010) – The recently established Canadian Foundation for Labour Rights (CFLR) has begun it work aimed at promoting, protecting and strengthening the labour rights of Canadian workers.

CFLR was created to be a national voice promoting labour rights as an important means to strengthening democracy, equality and economic prosperity in Canada. The key objectives of the Foundation are to create greater public awareness and understanding of labour rights as a key critical component of human rights by:

  • building effective political momentum and public support for progressive labour law reform;
  • promoting fundamental labour standards in Canada that enhance union organizing;
  • offering coordination on legal challenges to labour laws with a view to strategically moving labour rights ahead in Canada; and,
  • promoting Canada’s commitments to international labour and human rights standards of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and monitoring the level of compliance to the standards by the federal and provincial governments.

The Foundation was set up by the 340,000-member National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE).  NUPGE has been the lead union in Canada promoting labour rights and has been running a national Labour Rights are Human Rights campaign for the past six years.

CLFR is run by a Board of Directors made up of well-respected human rights activists, progressive labour relations academics and union-side labour lawyers from across Canada. It will hold its second meeting in Toronto this Thursday.

NUPGE National President James Clancy expects the Foundation to be a forum for the broader labour rights community. “CFLR will provide an independent and supportive voice for progressive labour law reform. We will be working with the Foundation to promote its work within the broader labour rights communities – unions and other labour organizations, labour relations programs within Canadian universities and colleges, labour law schools and legal firms and other progressive think tanks.”

Clancy added, “We are fortunate to have some of the most progressive and brightest minds on labour rights in Canada serve on the Board of Directors of the Foundation.”

The agenda for CFLR’s Toronto meeting will focus on two primary areas. The CFLR Board members will be examining the potential use of the equality section (15) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to advance migrant workers’ rights by recognizing their precarious status within the Canadian labour force. Most migrant workers in Canada do not have equal access to labour law protections and enforcement mechanisms because the systemic features of the temporary foreign worker programs place them in an insecure environment.

The second primary agenda item will be consideration of possible constitutional challenges to future public sector wage restraint legislation in light of the Supreme Court of Canada's (SCC) June 2007 BC Health Services decision. A central focus of the discussion will include sharing opinions around the interpretation of the two key terms in the June 2007 SCC decision – “substantial interference” in the collective bargaining process and “meaningful consultation and good faith bargaining”.

The meeting will also provide Board Members with the opportunity to discuss current and pending constitutional labour law cases in Canada which they are involved with.

NUPGE

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

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