This weekend, the Toronto Star published an op-ed by our national president, François Laporte, on the new anti-scab bill before Parliament and the right to strike more generally.
Every fair-minded Canadian believes that an honest day’s work deserves an honest day’s pay. The right to negotiate that pay is fundamental — including through unions. Collective bargaining has been a part of life in Canada for decades. It’s also something corporate Canada never fully accepted.
Last week, the government of Canada tabled a bill to ban the use of scabs in federally regulated workplaces. Scabs are replacement workers who keep a business running while regular employees are on strike. Bad-faith employers use scabs to avoid having to negotiate fairly, tilting the balance of power even further toward themselves.
True to form, business groups wasted no time blasting the bill. But one group in particular stood out.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) went on record saying that instead of banning scabs, federally regulated workers should lose their right to strike! To avoid being inconvenienced by strikes, they recommended declaring the entire federal sector an essential service. It’s a special status normally reserved for first responders and hospital staff — people who cannot stop working without jeopardizing human life.
The CFIB proposal is not just extremist; it is a leap into a dark past where workers had no voice and no rights. Banning strikes would align Canada with repressive and autocratic countries.
Strikes are a hallmark of a free and democratic society. The right to collectively pause work to negotiate better conditions is an expression of democracy in action. According to the Supreme Court of Canada, striking is an “indispensable component” of collective bargaining, and protected under our right to freedom of association…