Bill Bans Replacement Workers

Photo: MP Terry Sheehan (right) meets with USW District 6 coordinator Joe Krmpotich to discuss union and labour issue.

This week, the House of Commons voted to pass Bill C-58, which will ban the use of replacement workers during strikes in federally regulated industries. The Bill is now proceeding through the Senate.

As Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour, Sault Ste. Marie MP Terry Sheehan helped to move the bill through the House and its Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development. Throughout the spring, Sheehan and the committee heard from 37 witnesses representing labour unions, business groups, and government regulators.

“I am proud we have been able to advance this bill through the House,” Sheehan said. “Labour groups from across the country have long advocated for this, and it is the most significant step for Canada’s workers movement in generations. As the MP for a proud union town, I know how important they are to building communities. This is why we are supporting their right to free and fair collective bargaining.”

Bill C-58 will ban federally regulated employers from using replacement workers to do the work of unionized employees who are on strike or locked out. An exception would apply in situations where there are threats to health and safety, or threats of serious property and environmental damage that could not be managed by the employer’s existing workforce. If a union believes the employer is using replacement workers in capacities beyond this exception, their recourse would be to file a complaint with the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB), who will then investigate the issue.

The bill also requires federal employers and unions to come to an agreement early in the bargaining process to determine what work needs to continue during a strike or lockout, if any. The parties would have 15 days to do this. If they cannot come to an agreement, the CIRB would decide what activities need to be maintained within 90 days. The Minister would continue to have the authority to refer questions to the CIRB to protect the health and safety of Canadians.

This legislation would improve labour relations, protect workers’ right to strike, limit interruptions to collective bargaining, and provide greater stability to Canadians during federal labour disputes.

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