Agriculture Workers Alliance
Supreme Court of Canada to review Ontario Court of Appeal order to allow farm workers to form and join unions for the purpose of collective bargaining.
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Agriculture Workers Alliance
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The violation of the labour and human rights of Ontario agriculture workers will be in front of the Supreme Court of Canada again, after the highest court in the land agreed to review a recent Ontario lower court decision that ruled the province’s current prohibition on farm unions is unconstitutional.
"We’re disappointed that the justice delayed to Ontario farm workers will be further delayed," said Wayne Hanley, the National President of UFCW Canada - the union that for more than a decade has advocated in the community and in the courts for the rights of Ontario farm workers.
"We’re also enraged that the Ontario government has chosen to continue denying the human rights of the province’s most vulnerable workers. The actions of the McGuinty government and the corporate farm lobby are shaming Canada’s international reputation."
"As Canadians, we can’t stand back while human rights get trampled in our own backyard," said Hanley. "That said, we believe the Supreme Court will rule as it did a decade ago, and again in 2007 - that the right to collective bargaining is guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms."
On Thursday, the Supreme Court of Canada agreed to an application for Leave to Appeal by the Ontario McGuinty government. The application was filed in January, following a November 2008 Ontario Court of Appeal decision that ruled current Ontario legislation that prevents farm unions is unconstitutional. The Ontario ruling was based in part on two earlier decisions by the Supreme Court of Canada which ruled the right to collective bargaining is protected under the Freedom of Association provisions of the Charter.
"Twice now the Supreme Court has ruled that labour rights are human rights," said the leader of UFCW Canada, which in association with the Agriculture Workers Alliance operates nine agriculture worker support centres across Canada - four of them in Ontario.
"If in its wisdom the Supreme Court wants the opportunity to render a final definitive ruling, we must abide by that," said Hanley.
"The delay is unfortunate but in the meantime we will continue to advocate for the rights of Ontario agriculture workers. We’ll also press on with our case at the International Labour Organization that the Ontario ban on farms unions contravenes two United Nations labour rights Conventions that Canada is a signatory to."
"At the end of the day, a worker is a worker and Ontario agriculture workers have an equal claim on the same workplace rights and protections that other Ontario workers and other Canadian workers have enjoyed for decades," Hanley said, "and we expect the Supreme Court will uphold that, and finally put an end to this gross injustice."
UFCW Canada is the country’s largest private-sector union with more than 250,000 members coast-to-coast working in every sector of the food industry from field to table, including bargaining units at agriculture operations in British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Quebec.
Human rights violation of Ontario agriculture workers continues (http://awa-ata.ca/en/media/e-news-2009/news-vol-2-issue-12/)
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