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The Supreme Court of Canada has handed down a landmark ruling confirming that secondary picketing is legal.

Defined as “picketing in support of a union which occurs at a location other than the employer’s premises,” the Court agreed with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union that secondary picketing was protected under the freedom of expression provisions of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The case arose when members of the RWDSU were locked out by Pepsi-Cola in Saskatchewan in 1997. The workers set up picket lines at retail outlets that sold Pepsi products but charges were laid against the union.

In its ruling the Supreme Court says: “labour speech…is fundamental not only to the identity and self-worth of individual workers and the strength of their collective effort, but also to the functioning of a democratic society.”