In December, Quebec’s labour relations board made a precedent-setting decision in a case pitting the Journal de Québec workers union against the newspaper and news agencies Quebecor did business with while the union was locked out.
In the decision, the Commission des relations du travail expanded the definition of “workplace” in Quebec’s anti-scab law, ruling that since journalists perform their work outside of the office, their workplace is anywhere and everywhere.
The decision had huge implications for labour in the information economy. Unlike factory workers, information workers can do their job from just about anywhere, submitting their data to the employer when they’re done with it. Under this decision, the Journal de Québec and other employers couldn’t simply contract out work to other companies that was being done by its own employees.
Quebecor and the Journal de Québec appealed the decision, and this month Quebec Superior Court overturned the CRT’s decision, setting the definition of “workplace” back to what it was before.
As a result, the workers deemed scabs by the CRT have had those labels removed by the court.
And anyone who does a job that deals mainly with processing information and data has lost the protection that a union might have given them, because they can be simply replaced by subcontractors in case of a strike or lockout.
- Presse Canadienne
- Rue Frontenac, home of locked-out Journal de Montréal workers
- Journal de Québec, amusingly using an “Agence QMI” story
As Agence Nomade pops the Champagne corks, the union says it might appeal the decision, but it seems that this might ultimately go to the politicians at the National Assembly, who will have to make clear what their intention is about banning replacement workers.
Sorry, you’re a scab
The publication of the Journal de Québec decision comes on the same day that the Quebec Press Gallery rejected an application by two of its employees, who are attached to Agence QMI’s new parliamentary bureau. The decision came after a long debate about whether to accept members who have involvement in companies with labour disputes.
After rumours circulated that Quebecor might sue members of the press gallery’s board, it also adopted a resolution protecting thost members in case of legal action related to their official functions.