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BREAKING NEWS: Anti-scab bill scrapped in Parliament
OTTAWA -- The House of Commons, under a Tory minority government, has defeated a controversial bill that would have banned replacement workers during strikes at federally regulated companies. The Bloc-inspired Bill C-257, which makes picket crossing illegal and prohibits companies from hiring contractors or replacement workers to mitigate the impacts of a labor dispute, was voted down by a vote of 177 to 122. The bill was supported by unions and left-leaning Bloc and NDP parties, but vocally opposed by business groups, including the Canadian Trucking Alliance, which argued the law would have swung negotiating leverage too far in organized labor's favor. "This was flawed, unnecessary legislation that could have potentially crippled transportation services to Canadians; disrupted Canada-U.S. trade and caused a long lasting negative effect on labour relations," said CTA chief David Bradley.

The defeat of C-257 has led to unions bitterly
chastising the government for being too pro business
While the level of unionization in the trucking industry is relatively low -- only about 20 percent of drivers in the for-hire sector versus 32 percent of the general workforce -- many trucking companies depend on stability in heavily unionized industries such as rail, seaports and airports, to operate efficiently. The "anti-scab" bill was introduced by Bloc Quebecois MP Richard Nadeau and supported by his party and the NDP. Originally, the bill was thought to have a good chance of becoming law since most opposition Liberals were expected to vote in favor. However, enough Liberal MPs joined the governing Conservatives in killing the bill. Still, the issue may not be over yet. The Liberals -- who say they still fundamentally agree with banning replacement workers, but not for essential services -- say they plan to draft their own bill. Reaction after the vote was predictable. "They might as well rename the federal labor department the Ministry of Business," remarked James Clancy, president of the National Union of Public and General Employees. "The scare tactics that were used to defeat this bill were completely unjustified. This was a small, painless piece of legislation that would not have resulted in any of the frightening scenarios invoked by big business lobbyists to convince MPs to defeat it." Businesses, of course, disagree, pointing out that most contract negotiations are settled peacefully. However, this bill would extend bitter disputes which have a profound effect on the country. In the last few days of the recent CN strike, vital industries were able to slowly get back on track because of a number of workers voluntary trickled back to the job in order to clear the backlog of product. That would be illegal under the proposed law. "If Bill C-257 had passed the result would have been more work stoppages and a reversion to the days when Parliament was repeatedly called on to end strikes and lockouts harming Canadians and the Canadian economy," stated the Federally Regulated Employers -- Transportation and Communications, in a press release. Quebec's main business federation, the Conseil du patronat du Québec (CPQ), also welcomed "with relief" the majority defeat of the proposal. "This victory of the CPQ and other employers' associations involved in the fight against Bill C-257 will encourage the vital economies of the rail, air and marine transport sectors … which would have had their hands completely tied during strikes and lockouts should the bill have passed."
 
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