The Quebec Superior Court of Justice has just delivered a major blow to the Harper government in a decision involving the CBC’s unionized workers. The Court has ruled that a number of key clauses were unconstitutional in the budget legislation limiting spending which was passed on March 12, 2009.
It’s a clear victory for CUPE Local 675 who challenged the legislation for violating the right to collective bargaining, a right protected under the guarantee of freedom of association in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The bill actually overrode wage increases that had previously been negotiated in the collective agreement with no opportunity to renegotiate.
“Basically the Court ruled that the government should have allowed the CBC to negotiate with the union. But, as usual, the Harper government chose to take the bulldozer route. It took a Superior Court decision to remind them of the importance of freedom of association and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” said Annick Desjardins, CUPE representative and lawyer assigned to the file.
“The judgement comes as a huge relief to CBC workers. The Court is reiterating that they should have a say when it comes to determining their work conditions. It’s a good thing we have the Charter and courts to keep the Harper government in line and ensure that CBC workers’ rights are respected,” said Isabelle Doyon, president of the union representing Radio-Canada office workers and professionals (CUPE 675).
According to the judgement, the government’s attitude “is even more surprising considering that evidence indicates that the Treasury Board Secretariat was well aware of the principles established in the B.C. Health Services judgement.” The Supreme Court ruling confirmed that collective bargaining in good faith is protected under freedom of association in the Charter.
- A complete copy of the judgement is available on CUPE’s website (in French).
CUPE has more than 111,000 members across Quebec, including close to 8,150 members in the communications sector.