The use of replacement workers during a strike or lockout creates an imbalance in collective bargaining and results in longer and more difficult labour disputes.
The Iqaluit Housing Authority strike is a recent example. PSAC members held the line for over four months while the employer wasted significant resources on replacement workers instead of working to resolve the labour dispute in good faith.
Our union continues to press federal and provincial governments to implement rules that put workers first and stop employers from using union-busting tactics that undermine collective bargaining.
PSAC-Quebec, alongside the FTQ, recently filed a motion to intervene before the Quebec courts to defend a change to the labour code that concluded provisions apply to employees who work remotely.
In a decision in November 2021, the Tribunal Administratif du Travail (TAT) updated the Quebec Labour Code’s definition of “establishment” to account for remote work, which became widespread during the pandemic.
The updated definition implies that the workplace extends beyond an employer’s physical location to include any place where a worker performs virtual or other types of remote work. The TAT therefore concluded that provisions in the Quebec code that forbids workers from performing struck work apply to bargaining unit employees who work remotely.
Spearheaded by Unifor, this was a major victory for the labour movement in Quebec. But in a judicial review, the TAT’s decision was overturned by the Superior Court in April 2023. The Court of Appeal has since granted Unifor leave to appeal. PSAC-Quebec is supporting this appeal.
As PSAC’s historic national strike showed, taking job action can be incredibly effective in workplaces where remote work is commonplace.
Free and fair collective bargaining – without the threat of replacement workers taking employees’ jobs – is the best avenue to reach good agreements and stable workplaces.
PSAC will continue to push back against legislation that weakens the effectiveness of taking strike action and continues to call on Labour Minister, Seamus O’Regan, to bring in long-awaited anti-scab provisions to the Canada Labour Code as soon as possible. The federal government sets the bar and must lead by example.