Replacement Workers - Anti-Scab Legislation

Editor at HRinfodesk.com - Canadian Payroll and Employment Law News
By Yosie Saint-Cyr, LL.B.,

November 4, 2006. A federal private members' Bill that will ban organizations from bringing in replacement workers (scabs) during a labour dispute (Bill C-257) was introduced on May 4, 2006 in the House of Commons, and received second reading on October 25, 2006. The Bill was sent to the Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities Committee for consideration and possible amendments. Provisions of the Bill would revise the Canada Labour Code and make it illegal for federally regulated companies to use replacement workers during a strike or lockout.

Using bargaining union members who wish to work, contractors, and employees of a related company would also be prohibited. Businesses would be fined $1,000 for breaking the rule. Furthermore, employers must reinstate employees in the bargaining unit who were on strike or locked out, in preference to any other person, unless the employer has good and sufficient cause-the proof of which lies on the employer-not to reinstate those employees.

However, business groups like the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Trucking Alliance, which represent mostly federally-regulated employers, are opposed to such anti-scab legislation. In letters to the government, both groups and other interested stakeholders stated that studies show that anti-scab legislation results in increases in strike incidence and duration, among other findings.

Two provinces, British Columbia and Quebec, have already established similar legislation. Other provinces allow replacement workers but under certain conditions.

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