Nova Scotia Teachers Union files Charter challenge against Bill 75

The Nova Scotia Teachers Union has filed a charter challenge against the provincial government. File/Global News

The Nova Scotia’s Teachers Union (NSTU) has filed a Charter challenge with the province’s supreme court, asserting that Bill 75, which legislates contracts of 9,300 public school teachers, is unconstitutional.

Global News learned of the case after obtaining documents that were filed with Nova Scotia’s Supreme Court on October 31.

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

According to the court filings, the NSTU claims that Bill 75 violates the right to freedom of association and the right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The NSTU expanded on the concept by stating  that Bill 75 “substantially interfered with the collective bargaining process and infringed the right to strike in violation of  (their freedom of association).”

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The union also says that their members’ right to belief, opinion and expression as guaranteed under the Charter is violated by the bill’s infringement on the teacher’s right to protest or strike.

As a result, the NSTU claim that the conduct of the government before, during and after the failed negotiation of the teachers’ contract “failed to respect a process of meaningful and good faith consultation and negotiation.”

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“We are committed to doing whatever is necessary to ensure that the right to free and fair collective bargaining is restored for teachers in Nova Scotia. We believe the government failed to bargain in good faith as required under the charter and interfered in the collective bargaining process,” said Liette Doucet, president of the NSTU, in an emailed statement.

It’s now up to the provincial government to respond to the filing.

“We stand by the legislation and believe that it will hold up to a court challenge,” said Tina Thibeau, the province’s acting director of media relations.

Both parties are due back in court on Nov. 23, 2017.

Bill 75

The Teachers’ Professional Agreement and Classroom Improvements Act, better known as Bill 75, that legislated contracts was passed into law in February.

The contentious bill sparked outrage among teachers, resulting in a one-day strike outside of the legislature — an unprecedented event in the province.

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“It’s been 122 years and there has never been a full out strike and at this point, it’s a historical moment in the history of the NSTU,” Doucet said at the time.

WATCH: Nova Scotia government, teachers union to return to contract talks

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Nova Scotia government, teachers union to return to contract talks

The bill passed 33 to 17, with all of the Liberal MLAs voting in favour of the bill.

The most contentious issue around the contract were:

  • Three per cent salary increase over four years — zero per cent for first two years, followed by one per cent in year three, and 1.5 per cent in year four, with a 0.5 per cent increase on the last day of the agreement
  • A freeze on the long service award retroactive to 2015

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