MONTREAL, Feb. 1 /CNW Telbec/ - The imbalance in favour of the unions created by the anti-scab law has
gone on for close to 35 years, and it would be inopportune for the
government to further aggravate the matter by making the legislation
even more restrictive than it already is. This is the crux of the
declaration the Quebec Employers Council will be making in the National
Assembly this afternoon as part of a consultation being held by the
Commission de l'économie et du travail in conjunction with the labour
dispute at the newspaper, Le Journal de Montréal.
"The unions are profiting from a unique situation in an effort to try to
put all Quebec employers into a straight jacket," asserted Employers
Council president, Yves-Thomas Dorval. "We are categorically opposed to
any new restriction, and we deplore the fact members of the Assembly
would enter into this dynamic, as though the interest of the general
public was at issue when it is specifically the interest of unions
The Employers Council believes the anti-scab law has led to a favourable
imbalance for the union by limiting the right of an employer to
maintain the company's activities during a labour dispute, while no
such restrictions prevent unionized members from working elsewhere and
also being entitled to derive revenue from union funds receiving tax
breaks while retaining their preferential right to get their job back
once the labour dispute is over.
A needless and detrimental law that should be abolished
Far from wanting to strengthen the anti-scab provisions, the Employers'
Council believes the time has come, in the event of a reopening of the
Labour Code, to abolish them. The brief tendered by the organization
invokes a number of reasons why the law should simply be abolished.
The social climate has changed dramatically over the last few decades
and the labour dispute violence that prompted the legislator to adopt
anti-scab provisions is now a thing of the past.
Many studies have shown these provisions do not improve labour
relations, but instead they contribute to the worsening of relations by
increasing the probability of work stoppages and the length of such
With the exception of British Columbia, such provisions do not exist
anywhere else in North America, and they hamper Quebec's economic
well-being by reducing investments and preventing the creation of tens
of thousands of jobs.
The provisions abuse the rights of employers and, potentially, the
rights of the workers themselves, and they can thus be constitutionally
challenged under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
On the matter of the law's constitutionality, the Employers Council
issues a reminder in its brief of the reasons that prompted the
organization to suspend its court challenge in 1992. It further notes
it has not given up its right to a future challenge, and it is not
beyond the realm of possibility that the members, if faced with a new
situation, decide to reactivate this suspended legal avenue.
No to piecemeal changes
The Employers Council will be using its appearance before the Commission
to urge the parliamentarians not to act hastily and consider the
modernizing of the Labour Code as a work site that goes far beyond the issue of replacement workers.
Like the unions, the employers raise a number of aggravations in the
labour laws currently in force in Quebec. Among these are the absence
of a secret ballot during union accreditations, the absence of
participation by all of the workers of a bargaining unit at strike
votes, the taxation of union dues and benefits, and union placement in
the construction industry.
"By continuing to do what they have basically been doing for almost a
half-century, with the piecemeal modifying of labour legislation that
largely dates back to 1964 and which has become a real patchwork, the legislator runs the risk of imposing on the economic players a law
that is devoid of coherence and fairness between the parties,"
concludes the brief by the Employers Council, which also deplores the
fact that, in this consultation, the union organizations were granted
double the amount of speaking time than that provided to the employer
The Employers Council brief is available on the organization's website (www.cpq.ca).
The Quebec Employers Council brings together many of Quebec's largest companies and the vast majority of sector-based
employers' groups, making it Quebec's sole employer federation.
SOURCE CONSEIL DU PATRONAT DU QUEBEC
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