OTTAWA – Canada’s unions welcome Labour Minister, Seamus O’Regan’s introduction of Bill C-58, legislation to ban the use of replacement workers, and look forward to working with all Parliamentarians to strengthen the legislation to ensure workers’ rights are protected, and fairness is restored to the collective bargaining process.
“We have seen years of record corporate profits while workers’ pay lagged far behind. Workers are rightly demanding fairer wages, better safety standards and respect from their employers,” said Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress. “If we ban the use of scabs once and for all, we can take a real step towards less labour disruptions, avoiding work stoppages and building a more balanced economy—while increasing the benefits and respect workers deserve.”
The use of scab workers undermines fair and transparent collective bargaining, by tipping the balance of power to the employer. This often leads to longer and more contentious work disruptions. Canada’s unions have long called for robust, enforceable legislation that should close any existing loopholes and leave no room for interpretation by employers.
“The NDP’s advocacy with workers for robust anti-scab legislation resulted in this vital piece of legislation being included in the Supply and Confidence Agreement between the NDP and the Government,” said Bruske. “Political leaders that support workers recognize that banning scabs will help increase fairness at the bargaining table and bring forward these protections for workers.”
In order to truly protect workers and their right to strike, anti-scab legislation must apply to any work regularly performed by bargaining unit workers, to ensure effectiveness. It is important that the legislation doesn’t deny workers the right to legally strike by creating more essential services barriers and that it has strong enforcement mechanisms to ensure adherence. The legislation should also be amended to bring these urgent protections into force immediately upon adoption. The NDP has indicated support for amendments that would strengthen the Act.
“Workers have called for anti-scab legislation for decades, as it has been a missing piece of Canada’s federal labour law,” said Bruske. “Now we need the government and all parties to strengthen, adopt, and swiftly bring into force the legislation and deliver this long-needed protection for workers.”
The Canadian Labour Congress is the largest labour organization in Canada, bringing together dozens of national and international unions, provincial and territorial federations of labour and community-based labour councils to represent more than 3 million workers across the country.