Senate | Federal “anti-scab” bill passed

(Ottawa) A potential Conservative government would continue to support a ban on the use of replacement workers during a strike in federally regulated workplaces, Chief Pierre Poilievre’s office assured Tuesday.


Published at 5:50 p.m.

Stephanie Taylor

The Canadian Press

The bill, which is expected to become law after passing the Senate Monday evening, was a key part of the political pact between the Liberals and New Democrats. It received unanimous support in the House of Commons on May 27, after the Conservatives decided to support it – they had waited until the time of the vote to open their game.

Mr. Poilievre’s office confirmed Tuesday that this measure would not be eliminated if the Conservatives form the next government.

“Common-sense Conservatives supported Bill C-58, we continue to support it, and a future Conservative government will support it,” assured its spokesperson, Sebastian Skamski, on Tuesday.

“Pierre Poilievre is the only one listening and speaking to Canadian workers in the factories and in union meetings from coast to coast, and the Conservatives are the only party that will deliver bigger paychecks to workers. »

Mr. Poilievre presents the Conservative Party as the “party of the working class”, even if union leaders denounce its record in the House in the past.

“Impostor”

Bea Bruske, president of the Canadian Labor Congress, took advantage of a meeting of union leaders in April to call him a “phony,” urging participants to “denounce” him before the next federal election.

In a statement Tuesday, Mr.me Bruske recalled that his MPs had recently voted against the Sustainable Jobs Act and that they oppose the government’s increase in the capital gains inclusion rate – a tax revenue generator that the Liberals sell as a way to ask the wealthy to help pay for services and programs that benefit younger generations.

PHOTO JUSTIN TANG, CANADIAN PRESS ARCHIVES

Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labor Congress

“I welcome the unanimous support for anti-scab legislation, but I will fight like hell to build the same consensus behind other measures that would improve the lives of workers in Canada,” she said.

Mr. Poilievre tried to turn the capital gains tax changes into a battle against tax increases, saying the Liberals’ decision to hold a vote on the changes two months after the measure was announced in Budget 2024 provided a window for “the richest Canadians” to sell their assets before the deadline. However, the changes were still scheduled to come into force on June 25.

Mr. Skamski lambasted Prime Minister Trudeau on Tuesday for “cheating” workers with what he called “punitive taxes.” He also said that NDP leader Jagmeet Singh had “betrayed” workers by entering into a support and confidence agreement with the Liberals.

In a statement, NDP labor critic Matthew Green said Poilievre’s public record showed he had voted against previous anti-scab bills eight times, adding that under the former Conservative government of Stephen Harper, he was also in favor of increasing the retirement age to 67.

“No matter how many times he says it and no matter how much he pretends, Pierre Poilievre is not a friend of working people,” Mr. Green said.

Victory for negotiating powers

The Canadian Labor Congress and other union leaders across the country often point out that Mr. Poilievre supported special back-to-work legislation the last time the Conservatives were in power and that he has previously advocated for employees to be allowed to withdraw from a union.

The anti-scab bill passed in Parliament on Monday was welcomed by union leaders, who called the changes a victory for worker protection and bargaining power.

It provides for a fine of up to $100,000 per day for employers in federally regulated sectors who use replacement workers during a strike.

But the Canadian Chamber of Commerce warns that small businesses and families who rely on essential services provided by federally regulated sectors could suffer during a strike.

“Federally regulated” industries and workplaces of course include the public sector and federal crown corporations, such as the post office, but also private companies in the transportation, financial institutions and telecommunications sectors.

The Liberal government had accepted that the new law would come into force 12 months after royal assent, rather than 18 months – a delay nonetheless deplored by the Bloc Québécois and the unions.

Federal Labor Minister Seamus O’Regan explained the delay by saying labor negotiators needed time to prepare for the implementation of the law.

“This is a very big moment,” he told reporters Tuesday before the weekly Liberal cabinet meeting. This is such a fundamental change in negotiations in the federally regulated private sector.

In Quebec, amendments to the Labor Code adopted in 1977 prevent a provincially regulated employer from using scabs. Since 1990, the Bloc Québécois has presented to the Commons around ten anti-scab bills for federally regulated businesses, which have never been adopted.

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