Anti-scab legislation killed

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The Liberals and Conservatives, listening only to the doomsday assertions by big business, banks and mining companies, claim that they killed this bill because it threatens the delivery of essential services during a strike. Wrong.

On March 21, the Liberals broke their promise to vote for legislation banning scabs. At Stéphane Dion's urging, 52 Liberals joined with the Harper Conservatives to defeat Bill C-257.

This law would have protected workers' rights by banning the use of strikebreakers in federal workplaces.

The Liberals and Conservatives, listening only to the doomsday assertions by big business, banks and mining companies, claim that they killed this bill because it threatens the delivery of essential services during a strike. Wrong. In fact, it was the former Liberal government that produced section 87.4 of the Canada Labour Code that spells out the process for dealing with essential services during a strike. The Canada Industrial Relations Board backs this up. Maybe that's why the bill had majority Liberal support for the first round of votes on this bill.

How often are replacement workers used? Seldom. When should the federal government rely on replacement workers to deliver essential services and keep our economy running? Never. Yet when replacement workers are brought in, strikes last longer, and the focus shifts from the issues on the table, to the disruption of the collective bargaining process.

For the last 25 years, governments have been chipping away at workers' rights. And the trend continues. We saw almost nothing in the budget investing in a stronger workforce, no national minimum wage, nothing on the billions in the Employment Insurance surplus and nothing for skilled immigrant Canadians who can't get their credentials recognized.

Fair working conditions, fair wages, and a fair collective bargaining process are the cornerstones of a stable and productive workforce. Killing bill C-257 is another lost opportunity by the Liberals and Conservatives to strengthen that base for Canadian workers.

100 per cent of the federal NDP caucus supported this bill. The NDP will continue to fight for strong labour legislation for Canadians.

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