Unions lose lawsuit over Sask. labour board firings
A group of Saskatchewan unions has lost its court case against the government over firings at the province's labour relations board.
The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour, along with two unions, filed the lawsuit last spring. A decision came down earlier this month.
The union groups accused the government of political interference when, in March, 2008, it fired the chair and two vice-chairs of the board — the agency that handles union certification and disputes over unfair labour practices.
The government said it had every right to change the board's membership, and Queen's Bench Justice Ted Zarzeczny agreed, dismissing the application, submitted jointly by the SFL, the Retail, Wholesale & Department Store Union and the Canadian Union of Public Employees.
Saskatchewan Labour Minister Rob Norris said Wednesday he welcomed the decision.
"It reinforces that the process of board renewal was appropriate and legitimate," Norris said. "It reinforces as well that the goal of having fair and balanced labour relations environment in Saskatchewan is one that certainly has been legitimated."
The unions involved say they are still studying the decision.
Many of the same groups are also suing the government over two new labour laws.
The firings came at a time when the government was already being criticized by labour groups for pursuing a pro-business, anti-labour agenda.
Since coming to power in 2007, the Saskatchewan Party has made major changes to the province's labour laws, including the introduction of essential services legislation that could prevent certain public employees from going on strike.
It also amended the Trade Union Act, ending automatic certification of unions when more than 50 per cent of employees sign a union card. Now, a secret-ballot vote must be held when a certain percentage of employees sign cards.