NEWS

NEWS

SGEU takes Supreme Court case to global arena

The head of one of Saskatchewan’s most energetic unions is urging provincial and national residents to send a message to their elected leaders pressing them to step up to the growing global trend of protecting the right to strike for all workers.Bob Bymoen, president of the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees Union (SGEU) marked the Global Day of Action for the Right to Strike today by signing a proposal calling on the provincial and federal ministers of labour to use their influence to convince other countries attending an international labour conference next month to vote in favour of supporting the global right to strike.At the Geneva meeting, the International Labour Organization (ILO) will consider a proposal to refer whether the right to strike is enshrined within ILO Convention 87 to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). There are three groups that make up the governing body at the ILO—employers, trade unions and governments. Recently, the employers group has been trying to overturn more than 50 years of international legal precedents recognizing the fundamental right to strike. Employers will profit mightily if they succeed, but at the expense of working and middle-class families and communities around the world. While the workers group has already made it known that it will oppose measures to restrict the right to strike, the government group has remained silent.That is why the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has designated February 18 as a global day of action in defense of the right to strike. It, supported by unions everywhere, including SGEU, is urging the Canadian government to speak up in support of the right to strike in Geneva next month.This comes on the heels of Canada’s Supreme Court affirming the right to strike as an integral component to any meaningful bargaining.“The highest court in the country says Saskatchewan’s labour laws are unconstitutional as is because they don’t give any power to the worker in the delicate employee-employer relationship,” says Bymoen. “The right to strike is an important tool in the process of designing a collective agreement. Without that right protected by law, the right to collective bargaining is nullified. Democracy depends on turning up the volume of that power for all workers. Across the board, withdrawing labour is rarely used – about 97 per cent of all of our disputes, for example, are settled without using that option. But to try to negotiate without it leaves workers powerless. What has happened at Canada’s Supreme Court deriving from this Saskatchewan case is right on trend of a concern shared right now across the globe. It’s time for Canada to step up and support our highest court’s stance on this to influence improvements for workers internationally.”Bymoen is inviting all Canadians to support the ILO proposal by following the link below to sign a proposal being sent to their provincial and national ministers of labour in support of the right to strike globally:http://nupge.ca/sites/nupge.ca/files/documents/ilo_-_defend_right_to_strike_prov_lab_minister.pdfAt the same time, Bymoen has reached out to the Government of Saskatchewan, telling Premier Brad Wall SGEU is eager and able to engage in a thoughtful, meaningful collaboration to improve the province’s labour laws for all its workers.“We are urging our government, as the employer of our members, not to carry out its quiet threat of using the notwithstanding clause to ignore the Supreme Court’s rulings,” adds Bymoen. “Instead, we are inviting them to have us at the table helping to creating a lasting legacy of fair, respectful laws for all working people of this province.”  - 30 - For more information please contact: Kathryn EngelCommunications officer1 (306) 550.1146kengel@sgeu.org or Bob Bymoen directly:1 (306) 539.0030bbymoen@sgeu.org

 

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