·  Media Release

Supreme Court Votes for Workers' Rights

TORONTO - The United Steelworkers union (USW) hails today's Supreme Court decision in favour of workers' rights.

"Today's historic decision is a victory for all Canadian workers. For the first time, the Supreme Court of Canada has recognized what we in the labour community have always known: that the right to strike is a fundamental part of the collective bargaining process," said Ken Neumann, USW National Director.

In its 5-2 decision, the Supreme Court of Canada held that the freedom of association provision in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects the right to strike, finding it an essential part of meaningful collective bargaining. The USW was a participant in the case as part of a group of unions and labour organizations that challenged the constitutionality of laws limiting workers' rights passed by the Government of Saskatchewan in 2007.

"While 94% of federal disputes are settled without a work stoppage, this decision recognizes the vital role the right to strike plays in promoting equality at the bargaining table," said Stephen Hunt, USW Western Canada Director.

"This Supreme Court's majority decision in favour of workers' rights is especially important given our current climate of attacks on workers and unions by the vindictive policies of Stephen Harper and the Conservatives," said Neumann.

"Workers join unions to gain a voice and collective power in the workplace. This decision recognizes that the right to withdraw services is needed for workers to gain leverage and legitimacy in a system that is tilted in favour of ever-larger global employers," said Hunt.

The text of the court's decision recognizes that the right to strike reduces strike frequency by making collective bargaining meaningful. The court also noted Canada's international human rights obligations as a signatory to international agreements protecting the right to strike and under international law.


More information:

Ken Neumann, United Steelworkers National Director, 416-544-5951
Stephen Hunt, United Steelworkers Western Canada Director, 604-313-9185
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, 416-434-2221, bgallagher@usw.ca

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