CUPE 675 (Radio-Canada) recently got good news about their court case challenging wage rollbacks pursuant to the Expenditure Restraint Act.
Their collective agreement with the CBC signed in October 2007 provides for pay increases to take effect October 1, 2007 to September 2010. On March 12, 2009, the Expenditure Restraint Act came into force. The Act imposed limits on wage increases for all federal public sector employees, including employees of Crown corporations like the CBC, and applied equally to collective agreements which had been entered into prior to December 2008. “There was no consultation with the Union before the Act was passed,” said Nancy Rosenberg, director of CUPE’s legal branch.
“Relying on section 2 (d) of the Charter, CUPE 675 brought a motion to institute proceedings for a declaratory judgment that certain provisions of the Act were inapplicable and a declaration that the CBC had to comply with the October 2007 collective agreement,” said Rosenberg.
The Quebec Superior Court allowed the motion and declared the offending sections of the Act to be invalid, constitutionally inapplicable or ‘of no force or effect’ in relation to CUPE 675 and its members. “However, the Court of Appeal allowed the appeal and the motion for declaratory judgment was dismissed. We appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada and also intervened in the Meredith case before the Supreme Court of Canada, which was challenging the constitutionality of the same legislation,” she said.
The Supreme Court has now ordered that the case be remanded to the Court of Appeal of Quebec for disposition in accordance with the decisions in Meredith and Mounted Police Association of Ontario. “This is great news for the local, Sister Annick Desjardins, Equality Representative, is counsel on the case and the officers of CUPE 675 are very happy with the result,” said Rosenberg.