June 11, 2007 13:52 ET

OPSECAAT: Ruling Good for Part-Time College Workers in Ontario

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 11, 2007) - Friday's ruling by the Supreme Court that collective bargaining rights are protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is very good news for part-time college workers in Ontario, according to Roger Couvrette, president of an organization that represents 17,000 part-time college workers.

"What is protected is simply the right of employees to associate in a process of collective action to achieve workplace goals. If the government substantially interferes with that right, it violates... the charter," the Court ruled. The Court was ruling on legislation in British Columbia that cancelled various collective agreement provisions for health care workers, and then precluded further bargaining on those issues.

"Ontario's Colleges Collective Bargaining Act, and the related legislation that denies part-time college workers the right to bargain collectively is clearly in violation of the Charter," Mr. Couvrette said. "If anything, the Ontario government's complete legal prohibition of any form of collective bargaining for our members is a more extreme violation of their Constitutional rights."

In view of this ruling, Mr. Couvrette is calling upon all political parties in Ontario to include a commitment to amend the Act as part of their campaign platforms - an election will be held in Ontario on October 10, 2007.

"The writing is on the wall in terms of the need to amend the legislation," Mr. Couvrette said. "Our union should not be put to the expense and delay involved in litigating this clear violation of the Charter," he added.

In November 2006, the International Labour Organization (ILO) called upon the Ontario government to move "rapidly" to amend the Act and give part-time college workers the right to bargain collectively, "as any other workers."

"The government ignored the ILO," Mr. Couvrette said, "but it can't ignore the Supreme Court of Canada."

Contact Information

    Roger Couvrette
    (416) 553-0769