OPSEU files legal challenge in defence of bargaining rights

This legislation gives the government the right to impose contracts, ban strikes and lock outs and circumvent the courts, the Human Rights Code and the province's own collective bargaining legislation.

logo for the Labour rights are human rights campaign (NUPGE)Toronto (11 Oct. 2012) - The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) filed a legal challenge to Bill 115 today. The Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF), Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) have filed similar challenges in an effort to protect the Charter right to bargain.

“Collective bargaining is essential to democracy,” said OPSEU President, Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “By legislating education worker contracts across Ontario, McGuinty Liberals have denied workers their rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This is in turn a threat to all collective bargaining in both the public and private sectors."

“Furthermore, Bill 115 allows the government the power to interfere with the right to strike. This is unacceptable,” said Thomas.

“The Ontario Liberals’ legislation is unconstitutional,” said Thomas. “Collective bargaining rights are essential to democracy: They are protected under the Charter for a reason.”

“We were correct in warning that Bill 115 was just the beginning,” said Thomas. “The proposed Protecting Public Services Act is more of the same. It would allow the government to determine the outcome of contract negotiations before they’ve even begun.”

“We’ve filed a legal challenge to Bill 115, and will do what it takes to ensure it is repealed. The Ontario Liberals cannot be allowed to get away with this flagrant disregard for democracy. We are taking a stand for all education workers, for all working people in this province, for our students, and all those who depend on public services,” said Thomas. “This is a fight worth fighting.”

James Clancy, the National President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), expressed his union's support of the legal challenge. He stated that it's disingenuous for the McGuinty government to suggest that Bill 115 somehow respects collective bargaining rights and therefore does not violate the Charter.

“Premier McGuinty is trying to fool Ontarions with his doublespeak. This legislation gives the government the right to impose contracts, ban strikes and lock-outs, and circumvent the courts, the Human Rights Code and the province's own collective bargaining legislation. In reality, Bill 115 denies working people one of their most fundamental human rights.”

Legislation affecting Ontario’s education workers is compounded by cuts to the Ontario Public Service, attempts to take control of pension plans, and chronic underfunding of social services including healthcare, education and social services.

OPSEU/NUPGE represents more than 130,000 workers, including 2000 members at Ontario’s Boards of Education.

More information:

Canadian Foundation for Labour Rights

NUPGE Labour Rights are Human Rights campaign

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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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