Sunday 27 April 2014

Bill 5 & 6 Charter Challenge Heads to the Supreme Court of Canada

A panel of three Supreme Court Justices has decided that the Supreme Court of Canada will hear the SFL et al case against the Government of Saskatchewan’s Bills 5 and 6 – so-called “essential services” legislation and amendments to Saskatchewan’s Trade Union Act. On May 16th in Ottawa, the Federation, along with the plaintiff group and intervenors, will present the case for the highest court in the land.

Though no organization ever wants to be in the position of taking its own government to court, Bills 5 and 6 represent significant infringements upon the fundamental rights of Saskatchewan working people. On behalf of the people of the province, and on behalf of the generations of people that struggled for the rights we enjoy today, it is our responsibility to challenge laws that appear to be unconstitutional, particularly when they concern people’s basic rights at work.

In 2010, the United Nation’s International Labour Organization (ILO) found that Bills 5 and 6 violate Canada’s international law commitments.

In April 2013, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal released a much-anticipated decision recognizing that Canadian law has evolved to a point where a right to strike may be protected by the Constitution. At numerous points, the Court of Appeal notes that, though it could not overturn previous Supreme Court decisions respecting a right to strike, striking could very well be a fundamental right protected by the freedom of association.

Before the Supreme Court of Canada, the SFL et al will be making the case that Saskatchewan people, and all Canadians, enjoy a right to strike that is constitutionally protected. We are also asking for a declaration that the 2008 changes to the Saskatchewan Trade Union Act substantially interfere with workers’ right to form unions of their own choosing, for the purpose of bargaining collectively with their employers.

In only a matter of weeks, working people in the province and across the nation will finally have an answer to questions raised in the Fall of 2007.