Following a long campaign by PSAC, Bill C-62—An Act to amend the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act and other Acts—received Royal Assent on November 26, 2018.
The new law reverses several Harper-era changes to federal collective bargaining legislation, which limited the right of public service workers to strike and gave the government the right to unilaterally remove or change sick leave provisions negotiated into collective agreements at any time.
Previously, PSAC had launched two legal actions against the changes introduced by the Conservatives, which the union believes violates the Charter rights of members. The court proceedings were adjourned after the Trudeau Liberals entered into an interim agreement with PSAC in July 2016, promising not to exercise the new powers.
“It’s been a long time since the former Conservative government attacked collective bargaining by passing regressive legislation in 2013 and 2015,” said Chris Aylward, National President of the Public Service Alliance of Canada. “But PSAC members remained committed to reversing those changes and now we’ve won.”
Although PSAC welcomes the adoption of Bill C-62, the union is concerned that the new law does not reflect a Supreme Court of Canada decision on essential service designations. The collective bargaining provisions now restored within the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act (FPSLRA) still allow the government to declare unionized employees essential even if non-union staff are available to provide the service in question during a strike.
As the FPSLRA is overdue for a review, PSAC looks forward to meaningful consultation with the government and expects that the law will be amended in the near future to ensure it is fully respectful of members’ Charter rights.