MONTREAL, Feb. 10 /CNW Telbec/ - The union representing federal
correctional officers will launch a constitutional challenge of federal budget
provisions that will have the effect of unilaterally modifying their existing
collective agreement with the Treasury Board of Canada.
"The federal government is violating a sacrosanct rule of labour
relations: that a deal is a deal," said Pierre Mallette, National President of
the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers (UCCO-SACC-CSN). "This is a
frontal attack on the right to bargain collectively, which is guaranteed by
the constitution's protection of our freedom of association."
The labour contract, signed by the Union of Canadian Correctional
Officers (UCCO-SACC-CSN) and Treasury Board in June 2006, covers the years
2002-2010. The government's Expenditure Restraint Act
<a href="http://www2.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?DocId=3656090&Language=e&Mode=1&File=458#143">age=e&Mode=1&File=458#143</a>), Part 10 of the omnibus Bill C-10, or Budget
Implementation Act, would unilaterally reduce the negotiated salary increase
of 2 per cent for the fiscal year 2009-2010 to 1.5 per cent.
"We know that the actual salary reduction proposed here is not enormous,"
observed Mr. Mallette. "But when we add the losses over a working career,
every correctional officer will lose thousands of dollars.
"More importantly, the federal government will have poisoned the
atmosphere for future negotiations. We will once again be at the negotiating
table next year, and our members, who work on the frontlines of a federal
prison system that is growing more violent, will wonder whether their employer
will respect its signature on any future agreement."
Mr. Mallette observes that many veteran correctional officers made
sacrifices during the repeated salary freezes imposed by the federal
government in the 1990s. "Our union spent many years trying to rebuild a level
of trust with their employer. With this law, that trust will be destroyed," he
The union will challenge the constitutionality of Bill C-10, and ask the
court to declare it null and void as it concerns federal correctional
officers. The union will argue that the legislation violates constitutional
rights to freedom of association, which includes the right to collectively
negotiate a labour contract, guaranteed by both the Charter of Rights of
Canada and the Chartre des droits du Québec.
"The fact that the federal government is reneging on its signature
demonstrates that it did not negotiate in good faith," said Mr. Mallette,
adding that recent legal precedent - in the 2007 Supreme Court decision,
Health Services and Support - Facilities Subsector Bargaining Assn. v. British
Columbia - strongly supports the union's case.
For further information:
For further information: Lyle Stewart, CSN communications service, (514)