Quebec’s new government wants to ensure that all farm workers have the right to unionize and collectively negotiate working conditions with their employers. Minister of Labour Sam Hamad has introduced Bill 8, An Act to amend the Labour Code with respect to certain employees of farming businesses, which would require small farms to let a union represent their employees.
Last year, the Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench concluded that amendments to the Essential Services Act impeded workers from exercising their fundamental freedom of association, which includes the right to associate and organize, the right to bargain collectively, and the right to strike. Relying on a decision of the International Labour Organization, the Court found that the Act completely and utterly violated section 2(d) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Court gave the government one year to amend the legislation, but instead, it appealed the ruling. On April 26, 2013, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal upheld amendments to the Essential Services Act and ruled that whether or not the Charter protects a right to strike is a matter that should be left to the Supreme Court of Canada to decide.
The International Labour Organization (ILO), the agency of the United Nations that deals with labour issues, is seeking ratification of its eight conventions covering fundamental labour standards by 2015. The ILO Core Conventions are as follows: