OTTAWA, ON – The Canadian Union of Public Employees is celebrating today’s Supreme Court decision recognizing the constitutional right of public sector workers to go on strike. CUPE, Canada’s largest union, is calling the decision a huge victory for all workers across the country.
“The ability of workers to go on strike is a fundamental part of collective bargaining; a corner stone of our free and democratic society. It is extremely important to have the highest court in our country recognize this as a right of all workers, private and public sector alike,” said Paul Moist, national president of CUPE. “No union ever wants a strike, but without the right to strike, employers have an unfair advantage. This decision secures a balance between workers and employers in negotiations.”
Today’s decision stems from Saskatchewan labour legislation passed in 2008 – the Public Service Essential Services Act which put unjust limits on which public sector workers could go on strike in the province. The Supreme Court struck down the law because it violated Saskatchewan workers’ Charterright to freedom of association. The decision affirms that all workers, in all provinces, have the constitutional right to strike or to have another way to resolve labour disputes if their work is essential to health, safety or security. Earlier this month, in the RCMP case, the Supreme Court affirmed the right of Canadian workers to form and join unions.
“I applaud the Supreme Court for recognizing the role unions play in improving the lives of workers through free collective bargaining,” said Moist. “This is a historic precedent for CUPE, public sector unions, and the entire labour movement.”
When the offending legislation was put forward by the newly elected Wall government, several unions, including CUPE, launched legal challenges. The cases were eventually combined by the courts into one led by the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour.
“On behalf of all CUPE members, I thank the SFL for their leadership in this important court battle, and I congratulate all the unions that came together to uphold the rights of our members – in Saskatchewan and across Canada,” said Moist. “This is a victory truly shared by the entire labour movement, and a testament of what unions can accomplish when we are united.”
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CUPE Media Relations