Supreme Court rules on essential services

The Public Service Essential Services Act sets out a process where some workers, such as nurses and snow plough drivers, can be declared essential and banned from going on strike. Labour is challenging the law arguing it infringes on the rights of people to form unions and bargain.

Saskatchewan law limits ability of public sector workers to go on strike

Snow plough drivers are among the workers that can be declared essential under Saskatchewan's essential services act.

No one likes it when nurses go on strike or snow plough drivers decide to walk off the job. However, are they essential enough for the government to prohibit them from striking?

That's what the Supreme Court will decide later this morning, when it rules on the Saskatchewan government's Public Service Essential Services Act.  The law was passed in 2008 and it sets out a process where some workers can be declared essential and banned from going on strike.

Dionne Pohler is a labour specialist at the Johnson Shoyama School of Public Policy at the Univesity of Saskatchewan. (Josh Lynn/CBC)

Dionne Pohler, a labour analyst at the University of Saskatchewan said however the court rules, it will be a landmark decision. She stated it could change labour relations significantly.

"A union that doesn't have the right to strike has little power," she said. 

"Most unions never use that right," Pohler explained.  "Their most effective tool is the threat to strike."


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.