OTTAWA, Ont. — The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) is launching its second campaign of 2007 aimed at the defeat of proposed legislation to ban replacement workers in federally regulated organizations.
Earlier this year, a Bloc Quebecois private member’s bill, C-257, was defeated in the House of 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.
Shortly after the defeat of C-257, the Liberal labour critic introduced yet another bill (C-415), this one containing a degree of essential services protection; however, this extends only to public health and safety. 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, noted the CTA.
Before the federal government adjourned for the summer, C-415 received first reading and although a new session will be started with a Speech from the Throne on Oct. 16, C-415 as a private member’s bill does not die on the order paper.
Leading up to the resumption of parliament, 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 labour relations personnel. The bill would also prohibit the services of contractors such as owner/operators.
In CTA’s view, federal anti-replacement worker legislation could disrupt the labour relations balance in the trucking industry. While the level of unionization at 20% in the for-hire sector is lower than in other industries, the segment of trucking that is unionized is characterized by a stable labour relations climate.
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 CTA’s perspective, anti-replacement worker legislation is unnecessary, and is in fact viewed as a solution in search of a problem. CTA sees anti-replacement worker legislation as potentially disastrous for affected trucking companies.
If there were a labour 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.