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Court dates set in unions’ Charter challenge

B.C. health care unions are gearing up their legal challenge to the Campbell government’s draconian contract-breaking legislation now that the B.C. Supreme Court has set aside eight days to hear the unions’ Charter of Rights and Freedoms case beginning April 14 next year.

“We remain confident the courts will agree with us that governments can’t rip up signed contracts with impunity, and that Bill 29 is unconstitutional because it tramples on fundamental rights and freedoms,” says Chris Allnutt, spokesperson for the Hospital Employees’ Union (CUPE).

Health care unions launched the legal action earlier this year after the Campbell government rammed Bill 29 through the legislature in the early hours of Jan. 28. The legislation ripped up freely negotiated collective agreements and eliminated long-standing contract provisions and protections for workers. The controversial move paved the way for the widespread hospital closures, service cuts and privatization that the Liberals have embarked on.

During the last provincial election, Premier Campbell had pledged that a Liberal government would respect the signed contracts of B.C.’s 100,000 unionized health care workers.

Allnutt says the unions will be seeking to have the court strike down Bill 29 and legally negotiated contracts restored. And they’ll be seeking a variety of remedies including general damages to cover the financial and other costs borne by union members.

Other key health unions that are backing the Supreme Court case include the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union, and the B.C. Nurses’ Union, along with more than a dozen other unions which represent health workers. Court dates remain to be set for a similar legal challenge launched by unions for 10,000 community social services workers who were also impacted by Bill 29.


Stephen Howard, HEU communications director
604-240-8524 (cell)