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Canada: Union launches court action against anti-rights bill

07 April 2014
In Canada, last year's federal budget omnibus bill will now face its biggest challenge to date - a court challenge.
On 24 March 2014, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), a PSI affiliate, announced that they are mounting a legal challenge to Bill C-4. The bill gives the federal government exclusive power to decide what workers are essential, changes the terms under which workers would have to go to arbitration and redefines what "danger" is to an employee.

PSAC is arguing that the bill violates the freedom of association found in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Under the bill as it currently stands, bargaining units with over 80 per cent essential workers would have to go directly to arbitration, with no right to strike.

President of the Treasury Board Tony Clement told media last year that he believes it ridiculous that the government has to negotiate with labour unions to determine what services are essential.

Clement has taken a more adversarial role against labour unions than his predecessor Vic Towes. He and PSAC president Robyn Benson traded barbs on Twitter in the fall after a meeting between the two reportedly went poorly.

Benson said this year that PSAC will be in this fight for the long haul. "We have told this government from the day that I was elected that I was not going to expect any concessions," she said. "And I believe that our membership is solidly behind us and will stand up to be counted."

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