OPSEU Charter challenge over classification disputes | National Union of Public and General Employees

OPSEU Charter challenge over classification disputes

'The very foundation of law provides that, at the end of the day, if two parties can’t agree there is an independent person to make a final decision.' - Warren (Smokey) Thomas.

Warren (Smokey) Thomas, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE)Toronto (10 Nov. 2009) - The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) has filed a challenge under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms hoping to resolve a long-standing inequity affecting thousands of workers employed directly by the Ontario government.

OPSEU is challenging provisions under the Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act (CECBA) which makes it illegal for workers to get a binding decision on disputes over job classification. In 1995, the Harris Tories changed the act, eliminating the ability to resolve classification issues.

“Sections 51 and 52 of CECBA prohibit access to an independent, final and binding resolution for employees who have a dispute with how their job is classified,” says OPSEU president Warren (Smokey) Thomas.

“For the past 14 years, Ontario government workers have had no means of addressing their constantly-changing job duties and responsibilities. This has to change.”

More than 18% of the province’s 44,000 direct employees are involved in disputes related to job classifications. While the government acknowledges that the system needs a major overhaul, there is no way to get a resolution without a binding method to decide each case, OPSEU argues.

“The very foundation of law provides that, at the end of the day, if two parties can’t agree there is an independent person to make a final decision,” Thomas says. “For well over a decade, our members have not had that option. It is our position this violates the Charter, and we will testify to that fact in Superior Court.”

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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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