United Nations Agency Condemns Brad Wall's Sask Party Gov't For Violating International Labour Agreements - Updated
The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour, 16 provincial unions and 5 national unions filed a complaint with a United Nations body - The International Labour Organization (ILO) in 2008. The submission which named the right wing Saskatchewan Party government of Premier Brad Wall, specifies a number of serious violations of international labour agreements that Canada is a signatory to. The complainants allege that the Public Service Essential Services Act and the recently amended Trade Union Act impede workers from exercising their fundamental right to freedom of association by making it more difficult for workers to join unions, engage in free collective bargaining and exercise their right to strike.
In a ruling dated March 24th, 2010, the ILO indicated that the Canadian province of Saskatchewan is in violation of significant obligations and commitments that the nation of Canada entered into by international agreement. The government of Saskatchewan has been ordered to comply with at least the minimum standards set out in conventions of the United Nations and it's agency the International Labour Organization. The decision states:
The Committee’s recommendations:
384. In the light of its foregoing conclusions, the Committee invites the Governing Body to approve the following recommendations:
(a) The Committee expects that the Government will ensure that the provincial authorities hold full and specific consultations with the relevant workers’ and employers’ organizations in the future at an early stage of considering the process of adoption of any legislation in the field of labour law so as to restore the confidence of the parties and truly permit the attainment of mutually acceptable solutions where possible.
(b) The Committee requests the Government to ensure that the provincial authorities take the necessary measures, in consultation with the social partners, to amend the Public Service Essential Services Act so as to ensure that the LRB may examine all aspects relating to the determination of an essential service, in particular, the determination of the sectors in question, classification, number and names of workers who must provide services and act rapidly in the event of a challenge arising in the midst of a broader labour dispute. The Committee further requests that the Public Service Essential Services Regulations, which sets out a list of prescribed essential services, be amended in consultation with the social partners. It requests the Government to provide information on the measures taken or envisaged in this respect.
(c) The Committee requests the Government to ensure that the provincial authorities take the necessary measures so that compensatory guarantees are made available to workers whose right to strike may be restricted or prohibited and to keep it informed in this respect.
(d) The Committee requests the Government to ensure that the provincial authorities take the necessary measures to amend the Trade Union Act so as to lower the requirement, set at 45 per cent, for the minimum number of employees expressing support for a trade union in order to begin the process of a certification election. It requests the Government to keep it informed in this respect.
(e) The Committee requests the Government to encourage the provincial authorities to endeavour, in consultation with the social partners, to find an appropriate means of ensuring that the LRB enjoys the confidence of all the parties concerned.
(f) The Committee draws the legislative aspects of this case to the attention of the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) is the tripartite UN agency that brings together governments, employers and workers of its member states in common action to promote decent work throughout the world. The ILO is the only 'tripartite' United Nations agency in that it brings together representatives of governments, employers and workers to jointly shape policies and programmes. This unique arrangement gives the ILO an edge in incorporating 'real world' knowledge about employment and work.
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Saskatchewan Government Will Ignore International Labour Ruling!
Reported By Patrick Book
Posted March 29, 2010 - 5:36pm
"This is non-binding and certainly I don't think this is some of the best work from the ILO."
It's a pithy response from the province's Labour Minister today. Rob Norris says recommendations about Saskatchewan's essential services laws made by a United Nations body will not force a change in the legislation. The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour and other labour groups filed a complaint with the International Labour Organization last year, insisting Bills 5 and 6 violate the Charter rights of workers. In a ruling (viewable via the link above) the ILO supports the Federation of Labour's claims and makes six recommendations suggesting changes the province should make.
But Norris insists it isn't a legally binding decision. "The ILO has offered an opinon that's non-binding," he stresses. "The analysis is incomplete. Certainly from where we stand we have every confidence in both our essential services legislation and the amendments to the Trade Union Act."
He also accuses SFL President Larry Hubich of "fear-mongering" for comments he made Monday pertaining to a past finding of the ILO. Hubich claimed a similar ruling was made in a B.C. case that eventually ended with the Supreme Court ruling in favour of the union complainants and a $100 million worth of penalties for the government.
Norris confirms the government is prepared to take the case to the Supreme Court should the dispute elevate that high.