PSAC to challenge Harper government's attack on workers' and women's rights

    VANCOUVER, April 28 /CNW Telbec/ - The Public Service Alliance of Canada
announced today that it has filed a case with the Ontario Superior Court,
challenging the constitutionality of the Expenditure Restraint Act and the
Equitable Compensation Act for breaking collective agreements and denying
women the right to pay equity in the federal public sector.
    The 166,000-member union maintains that the Harper government attempted
to hide its disrespect for workers' and women's rights by burying the two
contentious laws deep in the Budget Implementation Act.
    According to PSAC, the Expenditure Restraint Act violates the Canadian
Charter of Rights and Freedoms by denying workers' right to freedom of
association and collective bargaining. The Act legislates rates of pay for
employees of Treasury Board, federal agencies, and employers in the
federally-regulated private sector. In several cases, the legislation
overrides previously negotiated wages - breaking open collective agreements
that were bargained in good faith.
    The union also maintains that the changes to the pay equity system for
federal public sector workers contained in the Equitable Compensation Act deny
women's equality rights under section 15 of the Charter.
    According to PSAC, the Act removes pay equity's status as a human right
by turning it into a bargaining chip in negotiations where the federal
government traditionally holds the balance of power. It also prevents women in
the federal public sector from addressing pay equity cases at the Canadian
Human Rights Commission, threatening to fine unions $50,000 for representing
or even assisting their members in making complaints.
    These measures legislatively curtail the union's ability to voice its
support for and provide assistance to its members - violating the Charter's
guarantee of freedom of expression and association.
    "The Conservative government bullied Parliament into passing flawed
legislation that undermines workers' right to free collective bargaining and
women's right to equal pay for work of equal value," says John Gordon, PSAC's
National President. "This represents a clear attack on public sector workers
and it endangers the rights of all Canadian workers to free collective
    Gordon made the announcement that PSAC would be challenging these two
pieces of legislation in court from the floor of the union's Triennial
Convention in Vancouver, British Columbia. Surrounded by more than 1,000 PSAC
members, he pledged to continue fighting for quality public services and human
rights in the face of repeated attacks from the Harper Conservative

For further information:

For further information: or to book interviews: Ariel Troster, PSAC
Communications, (613) 292-8363 (cell)

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