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Manitoba NDP could look at banning replacement workers in labour disputes if elected


Manitoba’s New Democratic Party will consider banning replacement workers during labour disputes if the party forms government in next year’s provincial election.

Delegates at the party’s annual convention unanimously passed a resolution on the issue this past weekend.

“The idea makes sense to me on the face of it,” Manitoba NDP leader Wab Kinew told CTV News on Monday. “If you do go on strike, you shouldn’t be replaced on your job. You know, your strike should be respected.”

The stance of banning replacement workers during strikes or lockouts is being applauded by the Manitoba Federation of Labour.

"We’ve long been advocates for banning of replacement workers,” said Kevin Rebeck, president of the Manitoba Federation of Labour. “The last thing a worker wants to do is go on strike or be locked out of work and not be bringing a paycheque home to support their families."

Rebeck said the use of replacement workers has increased in recent years – including at a St. Vital daycare where workers have been on the picket lines since Sept. 26.

"Childcare workers who are out on strike, who are trying to hold onto their paid sick time, trying to hold on to their vacation time, and the employer is bringing in replacement workers to do their job while they’re on the picket line,” Rebeck said.

However, the head of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce argues existing labour laws help maintain balance in the economy.

"There are families that require that childcare centre to be operational,” president and CEO Loren Remillard said. “There is major disruption to not only those individuals but their workplaces if all the sudden, there are no replacement workers and then they have to find alternative means, so we have to look at both sides of the equation here. It’s not just the workers and it’s not just labour."

Remillard said legislation – which allows either party in a labour dispute to head to arbitration within 60 days – is working as intended. He cites a low number of days lost to strikes and lockouts in the province in recent years.

“There isn’t a compelling reason to go down this road and upset that balance.”

NDP leader Wab Kinew says the replacement worker ban would only be considered following consultation with stakeholders and the public.

“I’d like to see how aware Manitobans are aware about this issue, whether they have other thoughts on it, different perspectives, so I think that’s one of the things I’d be looking for as we move forward here," Kinew said.

Similar resolutions have been passed at previous conventions, but former NDP premiers rejected the calls.

- With files from The Canadian Press Top Stories

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