One of the country’s largest labor unions says a small change promised in the federal budget could have a big impact on efforts to prevent Canada from being flooded with cheap goods that threaten domestic industries.
Once legislative changes are made, labor groups like the United Steelworkers union can launch trade challenges without the need for an employer to join the cause.
This change is something the Steelworkers union has been asking public servants for five years to align with other countries, including the United States.
Since 2017, workers can appear in court to hear allegations of dumping goods, as it’s known in trade talks, but decisions were largely based on the impact on the industry.
Meg Gingrich, assistant to the national director of the Steelworkers, said the change will also mean panels will look at the impact on workers when settling any dispute, beyond whether there are layoffs. .
She said the impacts could include companies that miss pension payments or push for bargaining concessions because cheap products eat away at revenue – “anything that hurts workers”.
“We didn’t have that before. We’ll have to see what the actual details are, but it looks promising in terms of what we can see with these reforms,” said Gingrich, whose union represents some 225,000 workers in Canada.
Last year, the government began considering updating trade dispute rules to give workers more input into the process.
Analysis carried out at the time for the business law firm McMillan LLP suggested that enacting the changes could not only help bring the workers’ perspective to the dispute hearings, but also help the companies by reinforcing the arguments of the industry.
The Steelworkers have only been implicated in one case under the existing rules. Earlier this year, the CBSA launched an investigation after the union and Restwell Mattress Co. Ltd. filed a complaint about subsidized mattresses made in China that entered Canada in the past three years.
The budget released earlier this month promised legislative changes that, when passed, would allow workers to file trade complaints if a country unfairly undersells products or those that circumvent import duties in the market. canadian.
This was part of a package of promises to revamp parts of Canada’s trade remedy system, which included $4.7 million over five years starting this fiscal year to the Canada Border Services Agency to help small and medium-sized businesses to navigate the dispute resolution system.
“It’s years of paid work and years of our members testifying in these courts and talking about the impact of unfair trade on their livelihoods,” Gingrich said.
“It’s to the point where Canada will have some of the most progressive trade laws in the world.
– Jordan Press, The Canadian Press