Two partial victories in our fight against scabs

Today, the federal government finally tabled an anti-scab bill for which PSAC-Quebec and other FTQ affiliates have been lobbying for nearly 30 years. The bill, one of the priorities of the NDP-Liberal support agreement, is largely inspired by Quebec’s legislation, the strictest one in the country.

The anti-scab bill aims to prohibit the use of replacement workers during a labour dispute in sectors under federal jurisdiction. This covers sensitive sectors such as telecommunications and transportation. 

“The bill is the first step that we’ve been hoping for a long time,” says Yvon Barrière, PSAC Regional Executive Vice-President for Quebec. “However, we remain disappointed that the government has completely omitted its own employees by not including anything related to the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act. This is unacceptable. It’s a first victory, but the fight isn’t over yet!”

Indeed, it seems that the government has completely ignored its own workers in its bill. As recently as last spring, some federal departments were encouraging their workers to do remote work in order to get around the strike. This unfair labour practice seriously hampers the achievement of fair agreements for our members.

On a positive note, the federal bill includes the concept of remote work, which will prevent an employer from using this route to employ replacement workers. As you will recall, this issue was at the heart of a request made by PSAC-Quebec to the Quebec Court of Appeal to update provincial legislation in this direction.

In another major victory, the Court of Appeal finally considered and accepted PSAC-Quebec’s request to intervene, and together with the FTQ, will be able to put forward the need to update the notion of “establishment” in remote work situations for our members. 

A federal anti-scab legislation and an update of the notion of establishment in the provincial legislation are essential tools to protect the full exercise of freedom of association and the constitutional right to strike.