The North Star


200 Autoport workers on strike

CN Rail Subsidiary Faces Backlash Over Use of Scabs

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Amidst an ongoing strike of over 200 Autoport workers, Unifor—​​​​​​​the union representing the workers—​​​​​​​held a demonstration outside of the Nova Scotia provincial legislature on March 19 calling for the immediate implementation of anti-scab laws. Unifor regional director Jennifer Murray called on Nova Scotia politicians to pass legislation which would punish companies who use scab workers during strikes. Such legislation would have the power to take away one of the most effective tools that a company has in breaking strikes.

The rally comes after nearly three weeks on strike for Unifor Local 100 workers who are seeking higher wages and benefits from Autoport Ltd., a subsidiary of CN Rail which processes vehicles. The same day the strike began, Autoport brought in scab workers. Negotiations in the strike have stalled twice, with the most recent negotiations on March 19 ending after Autoport offered the union less than what was previously rejected in the initial offer. That original offer of 8% increase to wages over three years was rejected by the workers leading to the strike which began February 27.

Since then, the workers have maintained a 24/7 picket line at the Autoport, picketing in six-hour shifts. The workers on the line are making their presence felt by the scab workers. They have been singing, insulting and otherwise disrupting the scabs wherever they can. Workers told North Star that the scabs are coming from two primary sources: temp agencies and non-unionized CN rail workers. One such temp agency is Halifax-based Integrating Staffing, whose website states that the company "specializes in industrial contract staffing".

The strike and subsequent rally comes at a time when scabbing and anti-scab legislation are a hot topic in Canadian politics. Bill C-58, an anti-scab law covering some federal workers, recently passed its second reading in parliament. Nova Scotian workers, like most workers in Canada, currently have no legal recourse to stop companies from employing scab labour during strikes. B.C. and Quebec are the only provinces in Canada which currently have anti-scab laws.

Strikers on the picket line at Autoport Halifax. Source: X/Twitter of Unifor

In 2023, Autoport's parent company, CN Rail, posted a profit of $5.5 billion. The Montreal-based company has posted profits in the billions of dollars for each of the past three years. American oligarch Bill Gates owns a 9% share in CN.

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