Court ruling says freedom of association rights are guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Fredericton (24 June 2009) - The New Brunswick Union of Public and Private Employees (NBUPPE/NUPGE) says casual employees have won "a huge victory" with a recent court decision by the province's Court of Queen’s Bench.
Justice Paulette C. Garnett has ruled that the definition of employee in the Public Service Labour Relations Act – which currently excludes casual employees – is contrary to Section 2 (d) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The section reads:
2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
(d) freedom of association.
NBUPPE says the thrust of the decision is that freedom of association – defined as “the right of employees for the purpose of advancing workplace goals through the process of collective bargaining” – applies to casual employees as well as other employees.
"In practical terms, all persons employed on a casual basis will be entitled to have all conditions of employment, including health benefits and pension, negotiated on their behalf by their respective unions," NBUPPE says. "The decision allows the government 12 months to correct the violation with legislation."
The court challenge was the cooperative effort of NBUPPE, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).
Decision by the Court of Queen's Bench of New Brunswick - pdf