CUPE says the introduction of federal anti-scab legislation marks significant progress in the fight for workers’ rights, but notes that loopholes need to be closed in order to prevent employers from circumventing the intent of the law.
“For far too long, governments have had their thumb on the scale, giving bosses a huge amount of unfair leverage in negotiations by allowing them to hire scabs instead of negotiating,” said CUPE’s National President Mark Hancock. “Thanks to decades of activism by workers’ rights advocates and the determination of our friends in the NDP, anti-scab legislation has finally reached the floor of the House of Commons and will soon be the law of the land. But before this bill becomes law, we need to ensure loopholes in this bill are closed so employers and bosses can’t undermine this legislation.”
CUPE’s National Secretary-Treasurer Candace Rennick welcomed the legislation but said the Liberals need to stop dragging their feet, and shorten the timeline for strong legislation to come into effect. “This legislation gives power back to workers to bargain for better wages and working conditions, and a better life,” said Rennick. “But let’s be honest: it doesn’t go far enough and doesn’t do it fast enough. Workers need anti-scab legislation in effect yesterday, not years from now.”
In fact, hundreds of CUPE members in federally-regulated workplaces – including 214 workers at Videotron in Gatineau, QC and another 81 longshore workers at the Port of Quebec – are being locked out and replaced by scabs right now. Why? Because their employer thinks they can force those workers to accept an inferior deal if they put them and their families out on the street long enough.
These are the exact kinds of situations that anti-scab legislation could have prevented – and hopefully they are among the last.
As history has repeatedly shown, allowing employers to hire scabs only extends labour disputes while diminishing the ability of workers to negotiate for a fair deal at the bargaining table.
By contrast, jurisdictions with provincial anti-scab legislation like Quebec and British Columbia see fewer and shorter labour disputes because employers know they can’t simply sabotage negotiations and hire scabs as replacements while they wait out their workforce.
CUPE is Canada’s largest union, representing 740,000 workers nationwide, including 28,500 workers in federally-regulated workplaces such as airlines, ports, rail, and telecommunications and broadcasting.