The aftermath of replacement workers can linger long after the strike is over

Replacement workers put pressure on the union…but at what cost?
By Shannon Klie
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 09/17/2006

On Sept. 18, 1992, a striking miner, frustrated by the use of scab labour, took matters into his own hands and blew up the Royal Oak Mine in Yellowknife, killing nine miners. This was Canada’s deadliest confrontation in industrial relations’ most contentious issue: whether or not to use replacement workers during a labour disruption.

The violence and strife associated with the use of replacement workers, as well as the potential for a poorly trained workforce, led to the introduction of anti-scab laws in Quebec, British Columbia and Ontario. The laws in B.C. and Quebec still stand, however the Ontario law was repealed a few years after it was introduced.

Employers in other provinces, and those that fall under federal jurisdiction, are free to use replacement workers, which some experts say is good for labour relations.