TORONTO, Dec. 17, 2018 /CNW/ - The Ford Conservatives' extraordinary decision to recall the Ontario legislature and force power workers "back-to-work" when they are not even on strike represents a precedent-setting attack on the constitutional right to free collective bargaining, says Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario.
"An attack on the rights of any worker is an attack on the rights of all workers. This dangerous move bodes ominously for future public sector contract negotiations and shows the true face of this provincial government when it comes to respecting workers' constitutional rights."
On December 14, the Power Workers Union filed a notice to strike on behalf of its 6,000 members working for Ontario Power Generation Inc (OPG). Such notice is required given the nature of these jobs and in recognition of the fact that unlike other workplaces, these workers cannot and would not simply go "tools down" and leave their work unattended. It also gives time for the employer to come to the bargaining table and work to resolve all outstanding issues between the parties.
"Only months after forcing CUPE 3903 members back to work, the Ford Conservatives are once again circumventing the bargaining process in favour of the employer," said Hahn. "When are we going to see 'back to the bargaining table' legislation forcing employers to deal with workers' representatives fairly and appropriately?
"With the federal Liberals recently legislating striking postal workers back to work, we cannot remain silent in the face of this disturbing trend. Worker's rights, such as the right to free collective bargaining and the right to strike, are protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That needs to mean something to all Ontarians."
Hahn also said "these workers form the backbone of Ontario's safe and reliable electricity sector and must be treated with the respect they deserve. But frankly, this respect should be afforded to all workers, regardless of the work they do, and particularly if they have a collective agreement.
"It's clear what's going to happen here. The Ford Tories will pass their legislation because that's what our electoral system allows a majority government to do. But the people of Ontario should never forget that when the chips are down, the Conservatives, like the Liberals in Ottawa, will always chose to strip workers of their rights instead of demanding employers return to bargaining tables and deal with workers respectfully."