Canadian Manufacturing

Unifor says Best Theratronics’ use of scab labour raises safety concerns

by CM Staff   

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Unifor members went on strike May 1, 2024, after the company proposed a two-year contract with zero wage increases, while PSAC members followed shortly after on May 10 with no monetary offer from the employer.

More than 50 members of Unifor Local 1541 and PSAC-UNE Local 70369 are on strike at Best Theratronics (CNW Group/Unifor)

KANATA — Unifor and the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) sent a joint letter to the Canadian Safety Nuclear Commission (CNSC), expressing their concerns about Best Theratronics using unqualified managers and non-union workers as scab labour to handle safety-sensitive equipment at its Kanata, Ont. facility, including those containing radioactive material.

“It’s clear that Best Theratronics is willing to cut corners by using unqualified scabs and creating a dangerous work environment,” said Unifor National President Lana Payne.

“This is why we need anti-scab legislation to be put in place in every jurisdiction in Canada – to stop employers from engaging in these kinds of unsafe tactics.”

More than 50 members of Unifor Local 1541 and PSAC-UNE Local 70369 are on strike at Best Theratronics. Unifor members went on strike May 1, 2024, after the company proposed a two-year contract with zero wage increases, while PSAC members followed shortly after on May 10 with no monetary offer from the employer.

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“The idea that scab labour could be receiving, offloading and handling radioactive material is alarming,” said Alex Silas, National Executive Vice-President of PSAC. “The use of replacement workers when it comes to hazardous materials sounds like a lesson I thought we learned in the 20th century.”

Best Theratronics develops and manufactures external beam therapy units, self-contained blood irradiators, and cyclotrons for hospitals, medical and research facilities.

The company’s owner Krishnan Suthanthiran recently emailed workers, saying the company will use contractors to complete work.

Unifor says that it is especially concerning that the company is using mangers and non-union personnel at the facility during the strike as scab labour who may be untrained and uncertified to do the work safely.

Unifor is recommending that a new inspection be scheduled to ensure Best Theratronics is fulfilling its obligations under the CNSC.

“Seeing the lengths this company will go to skirt around a fair deal is mind-boggling,” said Unifor Local 1541 President Steve LaBelle. “We’re talking about unqualified scabs handling hazardous materials like it’s no big deal. We need to keep jobs in Canada being done by workers who are properly qualified and trained.”

“We like the work we do, and that’s why we’re concerned that the owner may be putting the company and the non-unionized workers inside at risk,” said PSAC Local 70369 President Jeff Gulis. “During the pandemic last time we accepted concessions because we wanted the company to get through difficult times, but now it’s time for us to catch up to similar jobs in our sector, where people down the street are making 24-26% more than we are. We just want a fair deal and to get back to work.”

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