November 29, 2023
More than seventy academics have united in support of a federal ban on replacement workers (Bill C-58). The bill is currently undergoing its Second Reading in the House of Commons, presenting a historic opportunity to reshape the landscape of workers’ rights in federally regulated workplaces.
Signed by work and labour studies researchers, scholars, and policy experts, the letter argues that adopting Bill C-58 could significantly enhance workers’ rights and foster healthier labour relations by:
- Strengthening the collective bargaining process and levelling the playing field in contract disputes;
- Banning the use of strike-breakers that inflame tensions and poison workplace relationships;
- Reducing instances of picket line violence;
- 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.
Addressing concerns raised by business lobbyists, the letter dismisses assertions that a ban on replacement workers would deter investment or increase the likelihood of work stoppages. Drawing on the experiences of Quebec and British Columbia, where similar legislation is already in place for provincially regulated industries, the experts argue that these concerns are unfounded. In those provinces, such legislation did not lead to escalating wage demands, dramatic increases in strike activity, nor economic collapse.
The letter strongly rebuffs calls by corporate interests to water down the bill, emphasizing that Bill C-58 is already a compromise. It exempts the federal public service, and restrictions on replacement workers apply only to those employed before the notice to bargain collectively is given. Further diluting the bill, the experts argue, would render it meaningless.
The experts also express concern about the lengthy timeline for the bill’s implementation, which is set at 18 months after receiving Royal Assent. They argue that such a delay is unnecessary and advocate for amending the legislation to take effect sooner rather than later.
With its potential to reshape labour relations and bolster workers’ rights, Bill C-58 represents a historic opportunity that should not be missed. To read the open letter, visit: https://perspectivesjournal.ca/open-letter-bill-c58/