Labour briefs

Retired judges not qualified as arbitrators • U.K. drags feet on new EU labour rights

Retired judges not qualified as arbitrators

— Ontario’s appointment of retired judges as labour arbitrators was criticized by the Supreme Court of Canada in a ruling last month. In its decision, the high court said the minister of labour is required to appoint chairpersons who are “not only independent and impartial but possess appropriate labour relations expertise and are recognized in the labour relations community as generally acceptable to both management and labour.” Under the Hospital Labour Disputes Arbitration Act, arbitration is a substitute for the right to strike and lock out in hospitals and nursing homes.

U.K. drags feet on new EU labour rights

— As countries in the European Union work toward a new constitutional treaty, the United Kingdom has pledged to prevent the EU from setting standards for British workers’ rights. EU governments are considering a plan to make the existing Charter of Fundamental Rights legally binding in all EU member states. The Charter outlines basic freedoms and long-standing human rights principles, to which every EU country is a signatory. But it also gives powers to the EU to determine workers’ rights and social policy. As a result, a judge in Brussels may decide on a British employee’s right to strike, for example. Britain’s negotiator on the constitution said there is no possibility that the U.K. would agree to this.

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