Citing “free and fair collective bargaining,” the federal government on Thursday tabled Bill C-58 which would ban replacement workers in federally regulated workplaces during labour disputes.Minister of Labour Seamus O’Regan Jr. introduced legislation which proposes to ban the use of replacement workers in federally regulated workplaces during a strike or lockout. The legislation would also make changes "to improve the maintenance of activities process," the government said on its website.“We’re banning the use of replacement workers because we believe in collective bargaining. Our economy depends on employers and workers negotiating an agreement at the table,” O’Regan said in a statement. “That’s where we get stability for our economy, that’s where strong labour relations are forged and that’s where the best deals are made.”.Bill C-58 would ban employers from using replacement workers to do the work of unionized employees who are on strike or locked out. An exception would apply in situations where there are threats to health and safety, or threats of serious property and environmental damage that could not be managed by the employer’s existing workforce. If a union believes the employer is using replacement workers in capacities beyond this exception, their recourse would be to file a complaint with the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB), who would then investigate the issue.Prior to 1999, employers were not prohibited in any way from using replacement workers during a strike or lockout. The proposed legislation would require employers and unions to come to an agreement early in the bargaining process to determine what work needs to continue during a strike or lockout, if any, within 15 days of a strike. If they cannot come to an agreement, the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) would decide what activities need to be maintained within 90 days. The labour minister would continue to have the authority to refer questions to the CIRB “to protect the health and safety of Canadians,” it said.It’s not clear how the proposed legislation would have applied to this summer’s strike at the Port of Vancouver that cost the Canadian economy an estimated $5.5 billion. O’Regan in October appointed a panel of experts to review “structural issues” to prevent a similar walkout from happening again.