Premier Kinew aims to strengthen Manitoba with card check law and anti-scab legislation – now blocked by opposition Tories

March 18, 2024

WINNIPEG – Political games aside, today is a landmark day for workers in Manitoba. Canada’s unions are happy to see the Manitoba government announcing their intention to introduce a card check law and anti-scab legislation, marking a significant step towards ensuring worker’s rights are protected and supported in the province.

With the government’s willingness to ban replacement workers and restore card check certification, Premier Kinew is prioritizing the well-being of working families by restoring fairness at the bargaining table.

“Although the Opposition Progressive Conservatives stalled proceedings in the chamber, it’s still a great day for workers in Manitoba. Premier Kinew’s commitment to workers is evident in the enactment of vital legislation to support them. I applaud Premier Kinew’s efforts to restore the streamlining of unionization and workplace democracy and his focus on promoting fairness at the bargaining table,” said Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress.

Workers face difficult decisions when considering whether to walk the picket line. Though it shouldn’t be the case, financial calculations are often a factor in determining whether to exercise one’s rights and stand up for fair treatment. In these uncertain economic times, the pressure on workers is even greater, and these decisions can have profound impacts on families and communities.

The safety and well-being of workers should always be paramount, especially during labour disputes. The use of scab labour not only undermines the collective action of striking workers but also exacerbates conflict and hostility on picket lines. By pitting workers against each other and creating an atmosphere of desperation, employers further jeopardize the safety and livelihoods of all involved.

“Workers everywhere should be able to exercise their right to strike without worrying about the threat of scab labour,” continued Bruske. “I encourage political leaders across Canada to follow Premier Kinew’s lead and introduce legislation to ban the use of scab labour in their jurisdictions.”

In spite of the fact that today’s move by the Manitoba government to return to automatic certification in the province was altered by the opposition, it nonetheless represents a significant step towards empowering workers and strengthening their rights in the workplace.

Since the early 1990s, governments across Canada have prohibited labour boards from automatic certification, leading to the decline in unionization rates, also coinciding with the switch from automatic certification to mandatory voting. Requiring workers to go through a formal vote, even when there is demonstrated majority support through signed membership cards, creates unnecessary hurdles that can be exploited by employers to pressure employees against unionizing.

“Signing a union card is the best way for workers to improve their working lives. Being part of a union and having a collective agreement means stability, predictability, and better conditions for workers. This strengthens our communities and benefits our economy,” stated Bruske.

Bruske highlighted the significance of collective bargaining and the positive impact it has on workers’ well-being, emphasizing the role of unions in fostering stability and improving working conditions. “By eliminating this unnecessary barrier and returning to automatic certification, governments can uphold the integrity of workers’ rights to collective bargaining and ensure a fair and transparent process,” added Bruske.

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