Premier Redford says she won’t back down on new labour law that imposes a wage settlement and takes away arbitration rights of AUPE in apparent violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Redford says she won’t back down on labour law allowing mandatory settlements in apparent violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by James Wood, February 18, 2014, Calgary Herald
Premier Alison Redford says the Tory government won’t back down from a controversial labour law that imposes a wage settlement and takes away arbitration rights from Alberta Union of Provincial Employees members, even after a scathing court decision against the province last week. In a decision released Friday, Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Denny Thomas granted an indefinite injunction against the government’s Bill 46, saying the legislation could irreparably harm labour relations, guts the collective bargaining process and effectively emasculates the AUPE.

But speaking to reporters Monday, Redford said she’s “confident” in the legislation and reiterated the government’s intent to appeal the judge’s order. We’re disappointed in it. … Roughly 22,000 affected provincial workers have been without a collective agreement since last March. The law eliminated the possibility for the union to apply for compulsory arbitration to settle a contract dispute and would have imposed a two-year wage freeze on the union by March 31. Thomas’s ruling follows an application made last month by the AUPE to put Bill 46 on hold until the conclusion of a Charter of Rights challenge the union launched soon after the law was passed. [Emphasis added]

AUPE wins injunction in fight against salary restraint legislation, Provincial government plans to appeal by Mariam Ibrahim, February 14, 2014, Edmonton Journal
An Edmonton judge has granted a rare indefinite injunction against a controversial Alberta law that would impose a wage deal and eliminate arbitration rights for thousands of public sector workers.

In his decision released Friday, Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Denny Thomas issued a sharp rebuke of Bill 46, the Public Service Salary Restraint Act, saying the legislation could irreparably harm labour relations, guts the collective bargaining process and effectively emasculates the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees. The law only applies to the province’s negotiations with the AUPE. “It guts the bargaining process by removing an effective leverage on the part of the workers who, as a result of other provincial laws, cannot withdraw their labour,” Thomas wrote in his 23-page decision. “The effect of this legislation is to emasculate the AUPE.”

Thomas’s ruling follows an application made last month by the AUPE to put Bill 46 on hold until the conclusion of a Charter if Rights challenge the union launched soon after the law was passed. Thomas had granted a two-week stay of the law while he considered whether to grant an injunction indefinitely. The injunction takes effect March 31, when the law would have come into force. The ruling also restores the union’s ability to take the bargaining dispute to compulsory arbitration. “We have continued negotiating with the government while the temporary injunction was in place and we will continue to negotiate with the government up to and through the arbitration process,” AUPE president Guy Smith said following Friday’s decision. “The difference now is that we will be negotiating on a level playing field with a fair process in place to resolve any outstanding issues.” Smith said the union is applying for dates at a Compulsory Arbitration Board.

Roughly 22,000 affected provincial workers have been without a collective agreement since last March. The law eliminated the possibility for the union to apply for compulsory arbitration to settle a contract dispute and would have imposed a two-year wage freeze on the union by March 31. It was hurriedly rammed through the legislature in December, sparking days of protests and widespread criticism. Critics branded it draconian and undemocratic.

Thomas said in his decision that lawyers for the government told court that even if the injunction were granted, the province “could still legislate its way out of the problems” or institute an entirely new dispute resolution process. Alberta NDP leader Brian Mason said Friday’s judgment should prompt the government to withdraw Bill 46 and rethink its approach to labour negotiations. “I think that they need to accept that what they’ve done is contrary to the charter and to the basic rights that Canadians all have and get back to the bargaining table and negotiate a contract in good faith,” Mason said. Liberal Leader Raj Sherman echoed those comments. “It is time for the Alberta government to recognize that despite their power to pass laws, they are not above the law,” he said in a written statement. [Emphasis added]

This entry was posted in Other Lawsuits. Bookmark the permalink.