Nova Scotia Teachers Union file notice for charter challenge of Bill 75

FILE: Teachers rally outside the Nova Scotia legislature on Friday, Feb 17 in protest of the legislated contract Bill 75. On May 17, the Nova Scotia Teachers Union announced it had filed a notice of application for a charter challenge to the legislated teachers contract. Jennifer Grudic/Global News

The Nova Scotia Teachers Union (NSTU) has announced it has given two months’ notice of application with Nova Scotia’s attorney general for a charter challenge to the legislated teachers contract, also known as Bill 75, which was passed in February.

According to a release by the union Wednesday, the application says that through the bill and its legislation, the premier and government “repeatedly engaged in activities that violated NSTU public school members’ rights to freedom of association and freedom of expression” guaranteed by the Charter.

READ MORE: What is the new normal as Nova Scotia teachers adjust to legislated contract?

NSTU president Liette Doucet said in the release that the government had taken “numerous steps to erode” the union’s ability to engage in a fair collective bargaining process. She added that those steps culminated with Bill 75.

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“The government actions were both reckless and inappropriate and prevented teachers from negotiating a fair contract that included needed reforms to improve classroom conditions,” Doucet said.

The union’s notice comes almost three months after Bill 75 became law, legislating a contract on the province’s 9,300 public school teachers. It was brought forward after a lengthy dispute between the NSTU and the government which saw three tentative agreements rejected and a work-to-rule job action by teachers.

The four-year contract includes a three per cent salary increase and incorporates many of the elements contained in the first two tentative agreements rejected by members.

Prior to the bill’s passage, the teachers’ union promised to launch a Supreme Court challenge against Bill 75.

However, Liberal Premier Stephen McNeil has said he stands behind the bill and believes it can withstand a court challenge.

READ MORE: Supreme Court ruling bolsters Nova Scotia teachers in contract dispute: union

“We can’t just say OK every time someone is going to disagree with us, then let’s just give in,” he told reporters in February.

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