Unifor says company’s use of scab workers raises safety issues

'Unqualified scabs create a dangerous work environment,' says union

Unifor says company’s use of scab workers raises safety issues

Waste Management Canada’s (WM) use of scab workers is leading to an unsafe work environment for the workers themselves, according to Unifor.

This comes as 60 Unifor members at Local 4268 – in Brampton, Ont. – have been on strike since May 2, 2024 to raise issues like forced overtime, lack of work-life-balance and low wages.

"It is clear by the company's actions that they will resort to any means necessary to try to bust our strike and demands for a fair collective agreement," said Lana Payne, Unifor national president.

In March, the Nova Scotia New Democratic Party (NSNDP) tabled legislation to ban the use of scab workers in the province during a legal workers’ strike or lockout.

Scab workers and unsafe work 

"WM's use of unqualified scabs creates a dangerous work environment, and it is our concern as a union that health and safety is at risk as a result,” said Payne.

Scabs are covering inside cameras used to monitor drivers, said the union. Also, these workers have been reported to be climbing into the clean out area of a truck without securing proper safety locks for moving parts, thereby risking being crushed. They are also climbing into waste disposal and recycling bins to remove the contents.

In a photo, overhead wires were seen knocked down near a WM truck, said the union.

Had union members committed any of these acts, they would automatically be reprimanded, it said.

"Our members are qualified and do their jobs diligently with health and safety top of mind," said Local 4268 President Debbie Montgomery.

"These reports of scab workers operating heavy machinery or climbing into areas of the truck that can cause bodily harm without proper training are extremely alarming. Instead, WM continues to rule with an iron fist, instead of putting their workers first."

Currently on strike are members of Unifor Local 4268 who work as drivers, mechanics, and technicians, servicing commercial businesses in Stoney Creek, Hamilton, Niagara, Brantford, and surrounding regions. They do not provide residential service.

Previously, the federal anti-scab legislation passed Second Reading with all-party support, noted the NSNDP. Also, provincially, British Columbia and Quebec already have similar legislation that bans the use of scabs during a strike.

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