Dalhousie Law Journal


Michelin Amendment, Context, Chapter 19, Nova Scotia Acts of 1972, the Trade Union Act, economic, philosophical, political principle, appropriate bargaining units, community of interest


On Friday, December 28, 1979 an Act to Amend Chapter 19 of the Nova Scotia Acts of 1972, The Trade Union Act, received Royal assent. This piece of legislation is commonly (and much more conveniently) referred to as the Michelin Bill, the Michelin Act or the Michelin Amendment.' Its namesake is Michelin Tires (Canada) Limited, the Canadian subsidiary of the large French multinational radial tire manufacturer. It must, and indeed it should, seem odd that a bill amending in general terms an act of general application (the Trade Union Act of Nova Scotia)2 should bear the name of a manufacturing company located in the province. But as seems to be admitted by all concerned, there is a direct link between Michelin and the amendment. Because the link has been openly admitted or alluded to by the government which passed the amendment, much of what is contained in this comment is not new or at all extraordinary. Also, because it seems generally conceded that the handle "The Michelin Amendment" fits, in large measure the issues surrounding the Michelin Amendment are not labour law issues at all. The central issue is one of fundamental economic, philosophical, and political principle. To put it simply, the amendment has a great deal to do with the basic political dilemma of trading fundamental, and in a sense intangible, rights or freedoms for economic gains or increases in the general economic welfare of an economically depressed area. This is so much more important a question than any problem of tinkering with technical labour law concepts such as "appropriate bargaining units" and "community of interest" that it overwhelms any attempted labour law analysis.