Supreme Court urged to recognize provincial jurisdiction in First Nations certification

December 10, 2009

BCGEU appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada this week to argue that the B.C. labour code - not the federal version - should apply in a certification with a First Nations agency where workers are members of our union.

Here's the background. In 2005, BCGEU organized workers at the NIL/TU,O Child and Family Services Agency on southern Vancouver Island according to the rules set by the B.C. labour code. Subsequently, BCGEU and NIL/TU,O successfully worked together to negotiate a first contract for union members.

However, NIL/TU,O has opposed provincial labour code jurisdiction in labour relations matters affecting it. Instead, the employer believes that the federal labour code should apply.

Which code applies - federal or provincial - is an issue that's wound its way through the courts and this week was heard by the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa. BCGEU legal counsel Ken Curry appeared before Canada's top jurists and made the case for provincial jurisdiction.

A decision from the Supreme Court is expected later in 2010.