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Niagara Falls
Thursday, February 29, 2024
Letter: Brock profs support federal ban on replacement workers
Letter to the editor. File

This is an open letter signed by more than 70 labour experts, including the undersigned professors from Brock University. The letter urges policymakers to support Bill C-58 (an act to amend the Canada Labour Code and the Canada Industrial Relations Board Regulations).

We are writing in our capacity as work and labour studies researchers, scholars and policy experts to express our support for a federal ban on replacement workers.

By adopting Bill C-58, Parliament has a historic opportunity to advance workers’ rights and improve labour relations in federally regulated workplaces by:

  • Strengthening the collective bargaining process and levelling the playing field in contract disputes.
  • Banning the use of strikebreakers, which can inflame tensions and poison workplace relationships.
  • Reducing instances of picket violence and vandalism.
  • Incentivizing employers to focus on reaching negotiated settlements at the bargaining table rather than strategizing over how to best undermine union members exercising their right to strike.

Bill C-58 offers practical and meaningful measures that help to address longstanding imbalances in the labour relations regime.

Assertions from business lobbyists that a ban on replacement workers will drive away investment and increase the likelihood of work stoppages are unfounded.

While there is no academic consensus on the economic implications of anti-scab legislation, we know that similar legislation in Quebec and British Columbia banning the use of replacement workers in provincially regulated industries did not lead to escalating wage demands, dramatic increases in strike activity or economic collapse.

Calls by corporate interests to water down the bill are ill-advised. Bill C-58 is already watered down.

It exempts the federal public service and the restrictions on replacement workers apply only to those employed before the day on which notice to bargain collectively is given. To water down the bill any further would be to render it meaningless.

Moreover, as now constituted, Bill C-58 will not come into force until 18 months after it receives Royal Assent. That timeline is unnecessarily long in our view.

The legislation should be amended to take effect sooner rather than later.

A ban on replacement workers is necessary and long overdue. We urge Members of Parliament to resist efforts to weaken the bill and to instead work cooperatively to strengthen the legislation and ensure its swift adoption.

Profs.  Simon Black, Alison Braley-Rattai, Jonah Butovsky, Thomas Dunk, Paul Gray, Tami Friedman, Jordan House and Larry Savage
Brock University

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