In a 5-2 decision, the Supreme Court of Canada said that public employees cannot be barred from their right to strike, the Huffington Post Québec reports.
The decision was made regarding work laws in Saskatchewan, where the provincial government could simply say that such or such public sector employees could only do limited striking because they were labeled “essential services.”
“The Supreme Court has injected their views into labor relations,” said Aaron Wudrick, federal director at the Canadian Taxpayer Federation in an interview with The Daily Caller. This advocacy groups militates for transparent government and lower taxes.
Although he’s not a fan of the expression “judicial activism,” Wudrick does believe that the Supreme Court is skewing the balance toward unions. A few years ago, the court also declared collective bargaining as a constitutional right.
“This will give tremendous powers to public unions,” he states. “Unlike their private counterpart, they only have one employer, the government. If they go on strike, they don’t have to fear that competition will overwhelm them. Since they care about their members and not taxpayers when negotiating, they will be tempted to use this new leverage to their advantage.”
However, the CTF director believes such an attitude can backfire. “If public unions use their newly acquired right to strike repeatedly, voters will take note and are likely to put politicians into office that will take a firm stance against union demands.”
“Let’s not forget that most workers, who are not unionized, have no access to the generous work conditions and pension plans that public employees have. They are therefore not necessarily on board with their demands,” he adds.
It remains to be seen if other similar provincial laws will be overturned. The Supreme Court’s decision only concerned Saskatchewan. Plus, “provinces like Quebec offer arbitration in lieu of the right to strike,” says Wudrick.