CUPE’s National President Mark Hancock was on Parliament Hill on Monday afternoon to speak to the House of Commons Committee on Human Resources about the importance of strengthening and quickly passing Bill C-58, the government’s long-awaited anti-scab legislation.

The bill would prevent employers from hiring scabs - sometimes known as replacement workers - during a strike or lockout. CUPE and our allies in the labour movement have been fighting to bring in anti-scab legislation for decades, and it is only being made possible now because Jagmeet Singh and the NDP made it a condition of their support for the Liberal government in 2022.

“Why is collective bargaining so important that it is a Charter-protected right in this country and in many around the world? Because it is the only tool that workers have to correct a fundamental power imbalance between them and their employer,” said Hancock. “And it is this inequality that Bill C-58 aims to address. Because collective bargaining, without a real right to strike, is deeply flawed.”

Members of CUPE 2614 and CUPE 2815, representing locked-out workers at the Port of Quebec and Videotron in Gatineau respectively, were on hand to emphasize the harm that is done to workers and their families when the federal government lets big businesses trample workers’ rights and hire scabs. 

“While it’s business as usual for these two employers, our members and their families are experiencing the devastating and real impacts of this fundamental power imbalance.”

Hancock urged the committee to resist calls from representatives of big business to water down the bill by expanding the bill’s definition of essential services to include “economic disruption”. Disruption, Hancock noted, is what strikes are all about.

“If essential services are expanded to include economic disruption, the restriction on the right to strike will be unconstitutional,” said Hancock. “CUPE will take that to court without hesitation, and if you know our members, you know they will not sit silent if their fundamental rights are attacked. Just ask Premier Doug Ford.”

CUPE represents over 30,000 workers in federally regulated workplaces who would benefit from federal anti-scab legislation.