Case No. 3143 against the Government of Canada

Jurisdiction: 
Federal Government
Year/Month: 
May 2015
Case status: 
Active

Federal Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 2, Bill C-4 (December 2013)

Bill C-4 amends the federal Public Service Labour Relations Act (PSLRA), making it illegal for any bargaining unit to strike if 80 percent or more of the positions in that unit are declared necessary for providing an essential service. It also gives the federal government the "exclusive right" to determine which services are essential and the number of positions required to provide those services with a limited consultation process incorporated into the determination process.

Under the former essential services regime, unions and government negotiated the number of employees who were considered essential. If the two sides couldn't agree, the matter was turned over to the Public Service Labour Relations Board to decide which jobs would be considered essential in the event of a strike.

Further changes under the bill include limiting the use of arbitration for resolving disputes. Whereas before unions were free to choose between walking off the job or going through binding interest arbitration, the PSLRA now requires the union to proceed by way of conciliation or strike in all cases where the employer designates less than 80 percent of the employees in a unit as essential, unless the employer agrees otherwise.

As well, in the circumstances where the union is entitled to proceed to interest arbitration, the arbitration board must now take into account the government's "fiscal circumstances relative to its stated budgetary policies," as a primary consideration in making its decision.

Canada’s 18 federal public service unions filed an ILO complaint against Bill C-4 in May 2015. It has yet to be examined by the ILO’s Committee on Freedom of Association. Partial information received from governments as of March 2016.

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