Newfoundland and Labrador considering anti-scab legislation

Province would join Quebec and B.C. if it outlaws the use of strikebreakers in labour-management disputes


St. John's (29 May 2007) - The Conservative government of Newfoundland and Labrador is considering anti-scab legislation.

Two ministers in the provincial cabinet of Premier Danny Williams are looking into the issue, Labour Minister Shawn Skinner and Transportation and Works Minister John Hickey.

The provincial New Democratic Party called last week for the province to take action in the wake of an incident involving a scab worker hired by a subcontractor at Voisey's Bay Nickel.

About 120 workers with two contracting companies at the site walked off the job in mid-April. They are represented by the United Steelworkers, which is also representing direct employees of Voisey's Bay Nickel.

Hickey said the government is "obviously not going to step into the middle" of any ongoing labour dispute. However, the general issue of whether scab workers ("replacements") should be outlawed is already under active consideration by the government, he told the CBC.

"Minister Skinner has advised me that inside the department, this whole legislation is under review, [and] I have taken the opportunity to review other legislation across the country … so these are issues that we as a government certainly are looking at dealing with," Hickey said.

Two of Canada's largest provinces, Quebec and B.C., have long had anti-scab legislation on the books. It was also passed by Ontario in the 1990s but later repealed by the pro-business administration of former Premier Mike Harris.

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) has been one of the most active labour organizations in Canada in campaigning for anti-scab legislation at all levels of government.

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