CTA resumes fight against anti-scab legislation
OTTAWA -- For the second time this year, the Canadian Trucking Alliance is launching a campaign aimed at the defeat of proposed legislation to ban replacement workers in federally regulated organizations in the event of a labor stoppage.
Earlier this year, a Bloc Quebecois private member’s bill, C-257, was defeated in the Commons. The bill failed to gain the support of many Liberal MPs -- who held the swing votes -- largely because it did not contain an essential services provision.
The Liberal labour critic then introduced yet another bill (C-415), this one containing a degree of essential services protection. However, this extends only to public health and safety, and does not deal with services essential to the economy, says the CTA. "This is particularly ironic in light of the CN strike earlier this year, when Parliament had to legislate an end to the work stoppage to limit damage to the economy," says the group.
Bill C-415 received first reading before the summer. Leading up to the resumption of Parliament on October 16, CTA will be working with carriers across the country to provide briefing material to MPs in their ridings, particularly Liberals who as before are the only party not unanimously for or against the bill.
If passed in its present form, Bill C-415 would prevent the use of any replacement worker except for management, supervisory or labor relations personnel. The bill would also prohibit the services of contractors such as owner-operators.
"The federal anti-replacement worker legislation could disrupt the labor relations balance in the trucking industry. While the level of unionization at 20 percent in the for-hire sector is lower than in other industries, that segment of trucking that is unionized is characterized by a stable labor relations climate," says CTA.
"From 2000 to 2006, there were only seven work stoppages in trucking companies regulated under the Canada Labour Code, and there were no strikes or lockouts at all in 2004 or 2005. Therefore, from the Alliance’s perspective, anti-replacement worker legislation is unnecessary, and is in fact viewed as a solution in search of a problem."
There are at least 10,000 for-hire carriers competing in the marketplace and in the event of a protracted strike at a trucking company, that organization would soon be out of business as its competitors would move quickly to take over the freight, says the Alliance.
"If there were a labor stoppage in other federally regulated transportation modes -- primarily rail -- MPs should not expect that the trucking industry would be able to step in and keep all the freight moving: capacity constraints in trucking and the physical nature of much rail freight would prevent the trucking industry from taking up all the slack. The potential to have transportation services halted, ports closed and intermodal facilities shut down would be felt by all Canadians."