Regina – The Court of Appeal released their judgment today in the case of the SFL and Intervenor Unions (SEIU-West, CUPE and SUN) against the Provincial Government and others (public employers including Regional Health Authorities). SEIU-West members and leaders are extremely disappointed with the ruling on Essential Services.
“We are dismayed by the decision of the Court of Appeal. It seems a real setback when our provincial government effectively uses a technical argument to persuade the Courts to maintain a law which will have a negative, lasting effect upon all working people in Saskatchewan and beyond our borders,” said Shelly Banks, Vice-President of SEIU-West.
“The determination that The Public Service Essential Services Act is constitutionally valid will only serve to further delay achieving timely, fair and reasonable collective agreements for our members employed in the public sector. It was our hope that the Court of Appeal would have affirmed Justice Ball’s decision and that we could continue to work with the government and fix this law so it works for everyone, not just the employer. The best way to restore good faith collective bargaining in this province is to repair the essential services law,” continued Banks.
Members of SEIU-West are not opposed to the provision of essential services in the context of a collective bargaining impasse because they have always done so. The issue is that this essential services law is flawed so badly it strips the good faith out of the negotiations process.
“We had hoped that the rights of workers would have prevailed in this case,” added Banks. “Unfortunately, this court has decided to pass the buck to the Supreme Court of Canada, thereby ignoring the current hardships faced by public sector workers who are just trying to get a fair deal in a timely manner.”
The appeal, brought by the Provincial Government on March 8, 2012, was in response to the decision of Justice Ball, delivered on February 6, 2012, which found The Public Service Essential Services Act to be unconstitutional because it infringed upon Charter rights and freedoms. The Court of Appeal had suspended Justice Ball’s decision following the November 27 to 29, 2012 hearings until such time as the Court of Appeal ruling was released.
“Our members have wanted to talk about this legislation since 2008. We understand the importance of the work we do, whether it’s in healthcare, education, municipalities or other sectors,” said Banks. “The legislation, as written, does not strike a fair balance between services to the public and workers’ rights.”
SEIU-West represents more than thirteen thousand working people in the province of Saskatchewan. They include members who work in healthcare, education, municipalities, community-based organizations, retirement homes and other sectors.
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