We join many others in celebrating Justice Koehnen’s decision that strikes down the Ontario government’s Bill 124, which imposed 1% wage restraints on provincial public-sector workers. The decision finds the law unconstitutional, and that its sole intent was to violate collective bargaining rights, therefore the law has been struck down in its entirety.
The Ontario Federation of Labour announced this victory Wednesday. The Ford government says they’ll appeal the decision, but this is a victory all the same and another affirmation of our rights to bargain collectively – rights that are not to be violated lightly.
It’s important that the Justice recognized that the primary aim of the bill was to circumvent collective bargaining. That is, if the Ford government wanted wage restraint, they should have negotiated it.
This is yet another successful defense of public-sector bargaining rights. In November, the labour movement came together to force the Ford government to repeal Bill 28, which would have imposed a contract – and more shrinking wages – on education workers represented by CUPE. The Ontario government knew this bill was unjust and used the notwithstanding clause to avoid an inevitable Charter challenge.
For CUPW members, some of whom are provincially regulated and some federally, this is encouraging. All of us have the right to collective bargaining as part of our collective human rights, and it is very encouraging to see courts uphold these rights.
It was labour activism that won these rights for workers, and the fight to defend them can never stop.