ILO COMMITTEE OF FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATIONS COMPLAINTS SINCE 1982
Case No. 1806:CANADA / YUKON
Complainants:Education International (EI) and the Yukon Teachers' Association (YTA)
The Public Sector Compensation Act, 1994 extended the YTA's collective agreement for a period of three years, imposed a compensation roll-back of 2% and froze it at that level for three years.
The Act violates the ILO Conventions by:
eliminating collective bargaining and binding arbitration
unilaterally overriding collective agreements already in place
distorting the power balance between the employer and workers' associations
being enacted without prior consultation
The Act was adopted to deal with exceptional fiscal difficulties and is a temporary measure that was enacted in accordance with ILO principles.
The temporary wage restraint is justified by the extreme economic situation in the province. The CFA has already recognized that temporary measures to stabilize economic situations do not contravene ILO Conventions.The Act only goes as far as required to address the drastic situation.
The CFA made general comments about the large number of complaints involving Canada's public service since 1991.The Government should make use of the International Labour Office through an advisory mission.
The CFA does not express a view on the soundness of the economic arguments made by the Government, only determines whether the measures taken go beyond acceptable restrictions on freedom of association.
The CFA has recognized that Governments, in exceptional economic circumstances, can restrict wages for a limited time period to the extent necessary to stabilize the fiscal crisis.Adequate safeguards must be in place to protect workers' living standards.Government may also set an overall budgetary package relating to negotiated wage increases in the public service if unions are fully consulted and a significant role is left for collective bargaining.In this case, the Act goes beyond measures previously deemed acceptable and does not safeguard workers' standard of living.
1.Given the seriousness of the violation of freedom of association, the Government should refrain from taking similar legislative action in future. Given the limited duration of the Act, it is expected the situation will soon return to normal.
2.The Government should make use of the assistance of the International Labour Office through an advisory mission.
March 1997 update: The Government communicated to the CFA that legislation was adopted to limit the effect of the Act from three years to two years, after which full collective bargaining in the education sector would again be available.