In September 2015, ACFO led the charge in drafting a complaint against the Harper Government that was filed at the International Labour Organization (ILO). The complaint was sponsored by our partners at the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) and Public Services International (PSI) in response to Bill C-59.

Bill C-59 was an ideologically-driven attack on our freedom of association and right to bargain collectively. It included a host of regressive provisions that gave the government the legislative authority to unilaterally remove or amend collectively-bargained rights; to restrict the jurisdiction of independent labour arbitrators; and to fundamentally breach the statutory freeze protections that preserve our terms and conditions of employment after a collective agreement expires.

In its ruling on the case, the ILO sided with ACFO and our NJC union partners who joined us in our complaint and called on Canada to “continue working towards bringing the legislation into conformity with the principles of freedom of association and promotion of the full development and utilization of collective bargaining machinery in full consultation with the social partners concerned.”

In response to strong, strategic and coordinated union efforts such as ACFO’s ILO Complaint, the Liberal government introduced legislation early in their mandate to repeal those provisions and negotiated fair transitional terms which were used in part to reach our new collective agreement which will be signed on April 13. The legislation, however, still has not been passed.

This ILO ruling serves as an important reminder of the importance of ensuring the legislation is passed and given Royal Assent as well as serving as useful precedent should future governments attempt to undermine the collective bargaining rights of public servants.

ACFO is grateful to the CLC and PSI for their support and backing on this important issue.