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OPSEU v. Ontario entrenches bargaining rights across Canada


Toronto – A court ruling that the Ontario government violated the rights of education workers here has solidified collective bargaining rights for workers across Canada, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union says.

"Yesterday's decision is a great victory for education workers in Ontario," said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. "It confirms what we’ve been saying all along, namely, that the Liberal government trampled those workers' Charter rights in its fanatical pursuit of reduced wages and working conditions.

"But what is just as important is that this case adds another brick to the legal foundation of collective bargaining rights in Canada,” he said. “Governments need to recognize that workers’ rights to unionize and take part in collective bargaining are protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

OPSEU was one of five unions to challenge Bill 115, the Putting Students First Act, after the Liberal government of former Premier Dalton McGuinty introduced it in 2012. In his ruling yesterday, Mr. Justice Tom Lederer ruled that, under Bill 115, “it was impossible for true collective bargaining to take place.” The government “failed entirely” to respect collective bargaining and “was unconcerned with the impact of its actions on the individual bargaining units,” Justice Lederer said.

OPSEU’s Thomas called the Liberal government’s approach to collective bargaining “high-handed” and “disdainful of frontline workers and their families.”

“Since 2010, the Liberals have mounted an intense campaign against frontline workers in the public sector,” he said. “The sole purpose of that campaign has been to pay for corporate tax cuts introduced in 2010 and 2011 and fund overpriced public-private infrastructure projects delivered by high-ranking donors to the Liberal party.

“Our union will continue to oppose the Liberals’ blatantly anti-worker agenda.”

OPSEU represents 2,700 education workers at seven Ontario school boards.

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931