Anti-scab and card-check legislation introduced by Manitoba NDP government

Picture of Manitoba Premier, Wab Kinew, at microphone on steps of legislature with a crowd behind him.

March 22 2024

The new NDP government is wasting no time in tackling big issues affecting working people across Manitoba.

Premier Wab Kinew is introducing 2 major pieces of legislation that workers and unions have been fighting for over decades: single-step certification and a ban on the use of replacement workers, or scabs, during a strike or lock out. 

Single step certification or card check means that, if a simple majority of workers (50% +1) want to unionize, a union will be certified by the labour board to represent that group of workers. The card-check system ensures that workers’ desire to form a union is action upon. It reduces the intimidation often seen in union drives, especially in the time between workers signing union cards and a certification vote. This system protects a worker’s right to exercise their constitutional right to join a union.

Allowing replacement workers to take the jobs of those striking or locked out workers means that labour disputes drag on, divisiveness on the picket line and in the workplace increases, and threatens worker health and safety. A ban on scabs protects the collective bargaining rights enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and protects the integrity of collective bargaining by ensuring an open and transparent process. This legislation forces the parties to focus on negotiating a fair agreement.

Unfortunately, Progressive Conservative filibustering in the Legislature has delayed the legislation from being introduced in time for guaranteed passage by the summer break on June 3. It is still possible that the bills will be introduced later in this session, or they could be held over until the fall.

More movement on anti-scab legislation

This legislation comes on the heels of the federal government introducing similar legislation in February 2024. It is now being reviewed in committee and will be hearing witness statements in March and April. A clause-by-clause review will take place on April 18. It is expected that the legislation will pass third reading before Parliament rises for the summer and will move to the Senate in the fall.

On March 19, legislation banning the use of replacement workers was also introduced in the legislature in Nova Scotia by the NDP. As reported by CBC News, “Nova Scotia Labour Minister Jill Balser says she can see how bringing in replacement workers during a contract dispute could prolong a strike, and that’s one reason to take a look at legislation tabled by the opposition.”

British Columbia and Quebec already have legislation restricting the use of replacement workers. Legislation was introduced in Ontario but failed.