Ontario's farm workers given right to unionize

Supreme Court of Canada finds that the provincial government breached the Charter of Rights by repealing NDP law
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 04/09/2003

Ontario’s farm workers may unionize, Supreme Court of Canada has ruled. In an 8-1 decision, the Court ruled that the Ontario government breached the Charter of Rights by repealing an NDP law which gave farm workers limited bargaining rights. The government has a year and a half to change the legislation.

Mike Harris said in a media release that the “timely harvesting of crops should not be compromised by disruptions such as strikes and lockouts.” However, he says he will review the court’s ruling and sit down with farmers and farm groups to work on the issue.

The United Food and Commercial Workers union (UFCW) is celebrating the ruling. “Agricultural workers can no longer be treated as an underclass, deprived of the basic right to organized enjoyed by other groups of workers,” the union said in a media release.

They said their work organizing farm workers will “pick up where it left off in 1995.” The union’s focus will be on improving health and safety conditions and bringing “other contemporary Canadian labour standards to industrial-style agricultural operations.”

There are about 100,000 farm workers in Ontario.

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