Two new bills introduced this week in Parliament could mean major strides for the bargaining rights and pension rights of Canadian workers.
On Thursday, MP Scott Duvall, who is the federal NDP critic for labour issues, tabled Bill C-258, which would ban the use of replacement labour, or scabs, in federally regulated workplaces during strikes and lockouts. “The use of scabs infringes on workers’ ability to negotiate and hurts labour relations. We must respect and guarantee the right to free collective bargaining in Canada,” said Duvall.
CUPE strongly agrees. “For too long, our laws have enabled governments and company bosses to sabotage free and fair collective bargaining by using replacement workers during a strike or lock-out,” said CUPE National President Mark Hancock.
“CUPE is proud to support Bill C-258, because it strengthens the right of workers to bargain for safe, secure jobs and a better living,” said CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer Charles Fleury. “We hope this bill passes quickly and becomes an example for provinces too.”
Duvall also tabled Bill C-259, which would correct some glaring injustices in Canada’s bankruptcy and insolvency laws. As it stands, when a company goes into bankruptcy or insolvency, banks and investors are paid out before employees’ pension funds. We recently saw how Canada’s laws betray workers when Sears Canada filed for bankruptcy protection and terminated 3,000 workers and cancelled payments into pensions and benefits – all while handing out over $1.3 billion to shareholders and $9.2 million in executive bonuses.
Duvall’s bill would end these kinds of injustices, and ensure the pensions and benefits of Canadian workers are protected if their company goes into bankruptcy.
“The workers who build companies up shouldn’t lose the retirement they’ve paid into when a company goes under, and they certainly shouldn’t be last in line behind Bay Street investors and bankers,” said Hancock.
“It’s time to re-balance the scales and ensure all Canadian workers are protected from pension theft,” said Fleury.