Recently, over 3500 members of the United Steel Workers walked the picket line for over a year because Vale Inco refused to negotiate a fair contract and instead turned to scab labour to continue production. The use of scabs in this strike, just like so many others, prolonged the hardship and devastated the community.
Anti-scab laws have existed in Quebec since 1978; in British Columbia since 1993. Successive governments in those two provinces have never repealed those laws because of the clear benefits to workers and employers. Ontario banned temporary replacement workers from 1993 to 1995.
During this same time period investments into the province increased. Since Quebec introduced their anti-scab legislation, disputes have been less violent and a healthy balance between respecting worker rights and mediating a resolution for negotiations exists there.
On March 31, 2011 NDP MPP (Nickel Belt) France Gelinas’ Private Member’s Bill to ban replacement workers during strikes will be debated in the Legislature at Second Reading. The government should implement this legislation now for two main reasons:
- Using Scabs or Temporary Replacement Workers during a strike or lockout is damaging to a community’s social fabric in the short and the long term, and damages the well-being of workers and the economy;
- The Legislation will reduce the length and divisiveness of labour disputes, keep workers working and the economy growing
There is growing support for MPP Gélinas’ bill and people will be rallying in Toronto on the day of the final reading. Contact your local MPPs to let them understand that scab labour should not be part of the bargaining process.