Bill 148 Legal Challenge: Livestream Available
On March 9, the unions’ legal challenge against Bill 148 will be heard by the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal starting tomorrow at 10 a.m. The proceedings are expected to last two days and will be livestreamed here.
On Aug. 22, 2017, the Attorney General of Nova Scotia filed a Reference to the Court of Appeal, pursuant to Section 3 of the Constitutional Questions Act. The Reference was amended on Oct. 13, 2017. The Amended Reference asks the Court to consider whether certain provisions of the Public Services Sustainability (2015) Act violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, specifically Section 2(d), which guarantees an individual’s right to freedom of association.
This matter will be heard by a three-member panel comprised of Chief Justice Michael Wood, Justice David Farrar, and Justice Carole Beaton.
Stephen McNeil’s Liberal government proclaimed Bill 148 – the Public Service Sustainability Act in 2017. This piece of legislation did three things that interfere with your right to full, free, collective bargaining:
- It imposed a non-negotiated wage pattern on the entire public sector (0%, 0%, 1.0%, 1.5% & an additional 0.5% on the last day of the agreement);
- It removed long-standing articles from the Civil Service master agreement (ending the retirement allowance/public service award as of April 1, 2015);
- Prohibiting an arbitrator from awarding anything above the above-noted wage pattern.
Even before government proclaimed the Bill into force, the threat of legislation hobbled the unions’ bargaining power and prevented us from being able to freely conclude the collective bargaining process, because it took away the leverage of wages and monetary items like the service award off the table completely. After a significant amount of time with very little progress in bargaining at any major tables, the NSGEU announced in late summer 2017 that it would apply to the Labour Board to appoint an Interest Arbitration Board to settle the Civil Service Master Agreement, as is our right under the legislation that applied. Government proclaimed the legislation to prevent the interest arbitrator from awarding any monetary increases that were higher than was set out in the legislation. Since the legislation was passed, the NSGEU has been working hard alongside seven other unions who represent unionized workers to try and have this unjust legislation overturned by the courts.
The unions’ argument is that Bill 148 breaches Section 2(d) of the Charter, which guarantees Canadians Freedom of Association and protects the right to collective bargaining and the right to strike.
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