TORONTO, May 31, 2016 /CNW/ - The President of the 10,000-member Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113 will today ask the board of the Toronto Transit Commission to publicly endorse the repeal of Bill 150, the 2011 Ontario law that took away TTC workers' right to strike.
"The International Labour Organization, an agency of the United Nations, has recently ruled that Bill 150 is a violation of a treaty, ILO Convention 87, which was signed by Canada to protect workers' collective bargaining rights," says Bob Kinnear. "We have an obligation to honour treaties we have signed."
The union announced in April that it is mounting a legal challenge to Bill 150, citing recent Supreme Court of Canada decisions upholding labour rights under the Freedom of Association section of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In recent years, the Court has thrown out similar legislation in British Columbia and Saskatchewan removing the right to strike by public sector workers.
The Ontario Liberal government has said it will oppose the union's appeal. Kinnear says the government is fighting a lost cause.
"If Bill 150 reaches the Supreme Court of Canada, the Ontario government is going to lose its case and millions of taxpayer dollars will be needlessly spent.
"The Court has decisively ruled in recent years that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the Canadian Constitution protects public sector workers' right to collective bargaining, including the right to withdraw their labour in the absence of an agreement."
Kinnear says that the legislation was passed "at a time of political turmoil and political threats," alluding to the first City Council meeting after the 2010 municipal election that saw Rob Ford installed as mayor. Ford had told the McGuinty government that he would rally his supporters against the Liberals in the 2011 provincial election unless a law prohibiting TTC work stoppages was passed. Despite McGuinty's 2008 rejection of such a law, Bill 150 came into effect on March 31, 2011.
Kinnear acknowledged that transit strikes "inconvenience" TTC users but do not compromise public safety. A City of Toronto staff study of the 2008 strike found no negative impacts on police, firefighting or emergency medical services.
"In the 90 years we had full collective bargaining rights at the TTC, the total time of service interruption due to work stoppages was way less than one half of one percent.
He added that the growing incidence of transit service interruptions due to government underfunding, along with fare increases that exceed the rate of inflation, have been much more inconvenient than work stoppages.
"Inconvenience should not be used as a reason to deprive workers of the right of full collective bargaining, which includes the right to strike if that is necessary to obtain recognition of the full value of their work and skills" says the union's chief legal counsel, Ian Fellows.
The Commission meeting will be held at City Hall today at 1:00.
Note: Bob Kinnear will be available at City Hall for media interviews just prior to and during the Commission meeting.
SOURCE Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113
For further information: Bill Reno, 416.949.2455