Labour Rights Historical Events

June 7, 2007
This was a historic day for the Canadian labour movement. The Supreme Court of Canada recognized that labour rights are human rights! Overturning 20 years of jurisprudence, the court declared for the first time that the right to collective bargaining for all Canadian workers is protected by the 1982 Charter of Rights and Freedoms and is also a fundamental aspect of Canadian society predating the Charter.

June 18, 1998
The ILO adopted it's Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, reaffirming the commitment of the international community “to respect, to promote and to realize in good faith" the rights of workers and employers to freedom of association and the effective right to collective bargaining, and to work towards the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.  The official position of the Canadian government was that “Canada attaches great importance to the Declaration … as a key instrument for the promotion of the fundamental principles of freedom of association and collective bargaining. … Its implementation will contribute significantly to improving the lives of working people and their families."

June 27, 1991
 The National Union won an important victory in the Supreme Court of Canada (the Lavigne decision) on a case launched by the right-wing National Citizen’s Coalition on behalf of a community college teacher named Merv Lavigne. The unsuccessful challenge was against a union’s right to spend dues for non-collective bargaining issues. The decision reaffirmed the importance, value and legitimacy of the social and political role of unions in Canada

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 June 28, 1919
The International Labour Organization (ILO) was established at the Versailles Peace Conference as an international organization working in collaboration with the League of Nations to improve working conditions, achieve social justice, and promote higher living standards. A specialized agency of the United Nations based in Geneva, the ILO is responsible for formulating international labour standards in the form of Conventions.

June 14, 1872
The first piece of labour legislation which formally acknowledged and made trade unions legal entities, the Trade Union Act, was proclaimed in the federal Parliament by Prime Minister John A. Macdonald. At the time, Macdonald declared that he was the “working man’s friend”.