Advertisement

Nova Scotia NDP tables legislation to deny use of replacement workers in contract disputes

NDP Leader Claudia Chender's party tabled legislation Tuesday that would block the use of replacement workers during a contract dispute. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC - image credit)
NDP Leader Claudia Chender's party tabled legislation Tuesday that would block the use of replacement workers during a contract dispute. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC - image credit)

Nova Scotia Labour Minister Jill Balser says she can see how bringing in replacement workers during a contract dispute could prolong a strike, and that's one reason to take a look at legislation tabled by the opposition on Tuesday.

The NDP tabled the Strike Integrity and Worker Protection Act at Province House while striking workers from the CN Autoport looked on from the gallery. CN is using replacement workers in the dispute.

"These aren't people who are making a ton of money," NDP Leader Claudia Chender told reporters at the legislature.

"They are fighting for the wages that they need to pay the bills and take care of their families. They can't do that without anti-scab legislation."

The bill would prevent an employer from using replacement workers to perform bargaining unit work during a strike or lockout and prevent reprisals against any workers who refuse to take on the duties of people who are on strike.

The legislation would not apply in cases where the employer and union have a written agreement specific to work that can be performed during a contract dispute for the purpose of preventing hazards to health and safety.

Jill Balser is Nova Scotia's labour minister.
Jill Balser is Nova Scotia's labour minister.

Jill Balser is Nova Scotia's labour minister. (Robert Short/CBC)

Chender said British Columbia and Quebec already have similar legislation in place and she noted that legislation that would apply to federal workers is making its way through the House of Commons with all-party support, "a feat in this partisan moment in Ottawa," she said.

"And that's because it's legislation that is really required to preserve the Charter right to collective bargaining and the ability to strike."

Balser's department provides mediation and conciliation services during labour disputes, including the one at the Autoport.

She said the issue of anti-replacement worker legislation is not a subject she's heard a lot about during her time as minister, but the federal legislation and the NDP bill mean "it's important for us to consider what's going on."

Liberal Leader Zach Churchill said he wants to know the full extent and scope of the bill before deciding whether his party will support it.

"Philosophically, we support workers' right to strike and and generally disagree with the use of scab workers."

MORE TOP STORIES