Unifor urges federal government to ban replacement workers, reform employment insurance

Parliament Hill with Unifor flags flying in front (CNW Group/Unifor)

In a call for significant legislative reform, Unifor, Canada’s largest union in the private sector, is urging the federal government to prioritize the ban of replacement workers, commonly referred to as “scabs,” and to overhaul the Employment Insurance (EI) system.

With 315,000 members across various economic sectors, the union has amplified its campaigns for these issues in recent years.

Lana Payne, Unifor National President, emphasized that extensive studies and consultations on these matters have already been conducted. “Workers shouldn’t have to wait any longer for workplace and EI changes that will improve working conditions and a withering safety net,” Payne said.

The union argues that Canada’s current EI system is both needlessly inaccessible and insufficient in terms of benefit rates. It fails to offer the essential financial safety net for workers and their families, according to Unifor.

“Losing one’s job can be a life-changing crisis. The income security provided by a robust employment insurance program would help to prevent a downward spiral and provide a bridge to the next job,” added Payne.

Amid growing global corporate influence, Unifor contends that anti-scab laws could help balance the scales between labor and capital. The union cites data indicating that the use of scabs prolongs labor disputes like strikes and lockouts, which subsequently weakens the economic power of workers and has broader negative impacts on communities.

“Scabs undermine workers’ collective power, pure and simple,” said Payne. “Workers and the wider community suffer when labor disputes drag on as a result of workers’ weakened economic power.”

The union is urging the federal government to act on its previous commitments by introducing anti-scab legislation and making much-needed improvements to the EI system. Unifor also listed other legislative priorities for workers, including Pharmacare, affordable housing, and strategic investments to foster a sustainable and job-secure economy.

Unifor’s call for reform comes as part of its broader mission to advocate for working people and their rights, social justice, and progressive change for a more equitable future.