Home / BCCLA opposes unconstitutional “back to work” laws

BCCLA opposes unconstitutional “back to work” laws

The BCCLA is calling on the federal government to withdraw back-to-work legislation that attacks the constitutional rights of workers at Air Canada and Canada Post. The laws interfere with and undermine the fundamental right of Canadians to bargain collectively with their employers over workplace issues.

“It is troubling that the federal government would act so swiftly in these disputes, apparently without any regard to the employees’ fundamental rights,” says BCCLA President Robert Holmes, Q.C. “There is no sound reason to undermine the collective bargaining process and interfere with the freedom of parties to resolve their own issues where public health or safety is not at risk. Ordering people back to work under compulsion of law is disrespectful, unconstitutional and wrong.”

The Supreme Court of Canada has repeatedly affirmed that the freedom to bargain collectively with one’s employer over workplace issues is protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In a landmark case involving B.C. health services, the Supreme Court said: “Recognizing that workers have the right to bargain collectively as part of their freedom to associate reaffirms the values of dignity, personal autonomy, equality and democracy that are inherent in the Charter.” International human rights law also protects the right to collective bargaining.

Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John A. MacDonald, introduced Canada’s first labour legislation in 1872. He told the House of Commons that the purpose of the legislation was to protect “the spirit of the liberty of the individual.”

“The BCCLA takes no position on the Air Canada and Canada Post labour disputes,” said Holmes. “But the parties should be allowed to resolve their differences freely without the interference of the government. The federal government should not run roughshod over fundamental human rights.”

Click here to read the BCCLA’s letter to Prime Minister Harper

Robert Holmes, Q.C., President, 604-838-6856
David Eby, Executive Director, 604-630-9752 or 778-865-7997