BURNABY, BC, June 8 /CNW/ - This morning's ruling by the Supreme Court of
Canada, which affirms a challenge to Bill 29 brought by the Hospital
Employees' Union, the BC Nurses Union and the BCGEU, is a major victory for
the labour movement that will restrict government's future ability to strip
away collective bargaining rights, says CUPE BC.
Bill 29, the Health and Social Services Delivery Improvement Act, is the
controversial 2002 law that removed or rewrote contracting out, seniority and
other provisions of health care and community social services collective
agreements. The legislation restricts free collective bargaining on many of
these issues. Bill 29 also excluded health care and community social services
workers from BC Labour Code successorship provisions.
In a 6-1 decision, the Court held that freedom of association as
guaranteed by Section 2(d) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms includes a
procedural right to collective bargaining. In doing so, the Court has
overturned previous decisions that rejected any protection for collective
"This decision has historic implications, and for more than just the
health unions," said CUPE BC president Barry O'Neill, speaking in Winnipeg
from CUPE National's Western Municipal Conference.
"The right to collective bargaining in the workplace is now protected
under the Charter. This decision overturns 20 years of legal decisions that,
as far as labour was concerned, gave no meaning to the Charter's protection of
freedom of association. For a good news day, it doesn't get much better than
O'Neill said workers across Canada should celebrate the fact that the
Court struck down sections of Bill 29 that eliminated collective agreement
protections against contracting out, that cancelled layoff notice provisions,
that took away bumping rights and that gave employers the unilateral right to
transfer employees from one workplace to another without their consent. The
Court suspended the effect of its decision for one year in order to give the
province time to pass constitutionally acceptable legislation.
"Basically, the Campbell Liberals have 12 months to fix what they broke,"
said O'Neill. "This decision forces them to redraft the legislation to the
benefit of working British Columbians."
For further information:
For further information: Barry O'Neill, CUPE BC president: (604)
340-6768 (cell); Dan Gawthrop, CUPE Communications: (604) 999-6132 (cell);