The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) recently spoke out against Nova Scotia’s Bill 100, the University Accountability and Sustainability Act.
Bill 100 would allow the provincial government to suspend the right of university staff to strike as well as the right of their unions to enforce certain aspects of their collective agreements when a university is seeking a financial “revitalization plan.”
According to CAUT the bill would violate constitutional rights, compromise academic freedom and undermine the independence of universities. CAUT represents 68,000 academic and general staff at 120 universities and colleges across Canada.
“The Supreme Court of Canada has upheld the right to strike as constitutionally protected and an essential part of meaningful collective bargaining in Canada,” said CAUT executive director David Robinson. “According to the Court, equality in the bargaining process depends upon the right to strike. Bill 100 flies in the face of this by wiping out the right to strike and the right to enforce a collective agreement at the very moment when the employment security and working conditions of university employees is at stake.”
According to CAUT, the right to strike and the right to enforce certain aspects of the collective agreement could be suspended for over a year after a university submits a financial revitalization plan.
“Under the proposed legislation, unions have the opportunity to respond to draft plans, but with the right to strike removed, and the right to enforce existing collective agreements seriously curtailed, meaningful dialogue about the plan cannot really happen,” Robinson said.
Bill 100 also imposes several mandates on the contents of the revitalization plans, something CAUT called an “unacceptable intrusion of government into the academic affairs of universities in Nova Scotia.”
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