B.C. Supreme Court ruling on bargaining rights significant

Ruling reiterates B.C. Medical Services, limits gov’t power to rewrite collective agreements
By Danielle Harder
|Canadian Labour Reporter|Last Updated: 07/18/2011

The B.C. Supreme Court has reaffirmed collective bargaining as a constitutional right for Canadians. In a recent ruling, the court said legislation imposed on B.C. teachers almost 10 years ago substantially interfered with their bargaining rights and violated their freedom of association guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“While not a perfect tool, collective bargaining has long been seen as the best vehicle for resolving differences between management and labour,” wrote Justice Susan Griffin. “Giving workers a voice in the process of determining their working conditions, even where they are not substantially successful in advancing their position, is regarded as a means of increasing stability in the workplace.”

In 2002, the B.C. government rushed three bills through the provincial legislature in a weekend, without consulting the unions involved. Two of them affected teachers.