Two equipment operators were hit by two different scabs driving a pickup truck through picket lines in Northern Ontario on Wednesday. These are the second and third incidents of a motor vehicle being weaponized to attack Black River-Matheson’s 14 municipal workers who were, at first, locked out in October 2023 and have been on legal strike since January 22, 2024.

“We’ve been locked out or on strike for 124 days. That’s a third of a year,” said Serge Bouchard, president of CUPE 1490. “As it stands now, it seems Doug Ford and all of Ontario’s Conservative MPPs are okay with a worker being the victim of a hit and run every 41 days.”

In its rush to bring in scabs to steal workers’ jobs, the township appears to be hiring unqualified drivers. CUPE workers are concerned about the public’s safety being endangered.

“Premier Ford goes around claiming he’s ‘for the little guy,’” Bouchard noted. “If there’s any truth to that, he’ll get his labour minister, David Piccini, to introduce legislation banning scabs as soon as he finally gets back to work on February 20 after his two-month long break.”

CUPE is calling on the Ontario Provincial Police and Crown attorney to fully investigate and bring criminal charges against the two drivers responsible for Wednesday’s attacks on striking workers.

“CUPE Ontario is extremely alarmed to learn that CUPE 1490 members were put in harm’s way again,” CUPE Ontario president Fred Hahn remarked. “These workers are on a legal strike on a legal picket line, which I’m proud to have visited many times since the start of this dispute.”

Township managers who have been directing the work of scabs should also be fully investigated under Section 217.1 of the Criminal Code. There is a legal duty, already on the books, for anyone directing the work of others to take all reasonable steps to ensure the safety of workers and the public.

“Trying to break this legal strike using unqualified scabs, mayor Doug Bender and the whole township council aren’t just putting CUPE members in danger, they’re putting the public’s safety at risk too,” Hahn observed. “Blame for this situation extends to Doug Ford too. Scab-preventing legislation would put an end to these bad practices and make labour disputes in general shorter and safer.”