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Westjet decision exposes the sham of Liberal “anti-scab” legislation

Ritch Whyman

June 28, 2024
The recent experience of the hundreds of airline mechanics at Westjet exposes the sham of the recent “anti-scab” legislation passed in parliament as an empty gesture for workers under federal jurisdiction.
The legislation has been held up by national union leaders and the federal NDP as a crown jewel in their rotten alliance with the Trudeau Liberals. In return the Liberals have shown their real face and rather than following the federal Industrial Review Boards rulings that defend the right to strike by these mechanics, Seamus (scabby) O’Regan the Liberal minister of labour has utilised a rare clause in the labour Code and acted at the behest of Westjet CEO’s and forced a binding arbitration process on the mechanics union AMFA.
This action comes after AMFA members rejected a paltry sub inflation offer by Westjet and again rejected the offer by Westjet to increase the overall package offered by 1%. This is from an employer that publicly acknowledged it cannot fill vacancies due to low wages.
After the rejection of the final insulting offer AMFA submitted the legally mandated 72 hour strike notice, which Westjet also filed later that day. Despite this AMFA returned to the table to try to get a deal. Clearly with the knowledge that the Liberals would use a clause that had only been exercised 7 times in the last 45 years and break any attempt at a strike Westjet made no effort to bargain.
With a strike deadline looming, the Liberal Government of Trudeau moved for the second time in just over a month to frustrate workers' right to strike. In May the Liberals, in the middle of being held up by Labour Leaders for the proposed anti-scab legislation, forced a delay in the right of Locomotive engineers at CN and CPKC to strike. Again Scabby O’Regan pulled out a rarely used section of the Labour Code and invoked a safety issue not raised by either the employers or workers, but by the Propane Industry.  
Of course the Tories and Liberals voted for anti-scab legislation, not because of the persuasive arguments of the NDP or union leaders, but because they know it's toothless and meaningless in the face of strikebreaking by the Governments via back to work legislation or forcing binding arbitration on workers seeking to fight for their rights. There can’t be any scabs if the government prevents and breaks strikes.
Sadly the union tops have refused to expose the Liberals and continue to cling via the NDP to Trudeau's sagging coattails in the hope of stemming the Conservative tide. Rather than being the gain they claim anti-scab legislation is, it has just provided the Polliviere Tories with the cover to pretend they’re for workers by voting for “anti-scab” legislation.
Every rank and file activist and local leader needs to call on the Union leaders to mobilise to oppose Trudeau's attacks on workers right to strike and demand the NDP break its opportunistic and disastrous alliance with the party of Bay st.
Other airline unions should be organising solidarity protests and pledge to back the mechanics union should they decide to disregard the ban and strike anyway.


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