Unions to Appeal BC
Supreme Court judgment on Contract-Breaking Law
unions representing nearly 100,000 front-line workers say they intend
a BC Supreme Court judgment handed down last week that dismisses their
challenge to provincial contract-breaking legislation.
authorities have used the provisions of Bill 29, the Health and Social
Delivery Act, to close 50 health facilities across BC, cut services and
radically expand the role of private corporations in the public health
As a result, more
than 9,000 front-line workers are expected to lose their jobs by the
Leaders of the
three unions coordinating the legal challenge, the Hospital Employees'
the BC Government and Service Employees' Union and the BC Nurses'
expressed disappointment at the ruling by Madame Justice Nicole Garson
they are committed to a long-term legal strategy to strike down the
Liberals and their health authorities have used Bill 29 to wreak havoc
health care and to exact an unconscionable economic and emotional toll
thousands of front-line workers," says HEU secretary-business manager
Chris Allnutt. "Bill 29 represents a fundamental attack on the rights
workers and we plan to defend those rights all the way to the Supreme
Canada if necessary."
George Heyman says that there are important principles at stake in the
constitutional challenge that should be heard in a higher court.
core, this case is about the value of freely negotiated collective
under Canadian law," says Heyman. "Bill 29 poses a threat to the
rights of every union member, not just in this province, but across the
country. That's why we intend to take our case to the B.C Court of
Debra McPherson says Bill 29's impact on the working lives and economic
position of women - who make up the vast majority of health care
workers - has
been especially damaging.
legislation attacks the most fundamental rights of women workers to
unions, to work in good jobs and to do so without being discriminated
against," says McPherson. "For nurses, Bill 29 means the loss of
training, it means restrictions on their ability to move into new jobs,
allows health authorities to move them from worksite to worksite
agreement, with no regard for professional expertise or the impact this
The unions' case
was launched in March, 2002 and argued in BC Supreme Court by noted Victoria
lawyer Joe Arvay in April of this year.
Arvay argued that
Bill 29 violates rights guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights
Freedoms and in particular those sections relating to liberty and
the person, freedom of association and equality rights.
Prior to the last
election, Premier Campbell pledged to respect health care workers'
collective agreements. But in January 2002, his government passed Bill
draconian legislation eliminated key long-standing contract provisions
protections against contracting out, seniority rights and labour
Labour Organization strongly criticized the Campbell government earlier this year
trampling on the rights of trade union members through Bill 29.