OTTAWA–The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) and the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) condemned the Trudeau government’s back-to-work legislation. Once again, CUPW and the CLC are calling for free and fair negotiations between CUPW and Canada Post for its two biggest bargaining units.
The federal government is planning to introduce back-to-work legislation today to shut down the rotating strikes. While Prime Minister Trudeau conceded legislating an end to a labour dispute is never the best option, Trudeau said his government must act to “protect small businesses and the livelihoods of Canadians affected by a month of rotating strikes”.
“While we are continuing to hold out hope that there’s going to be a settlement or an agreement at the bargaining table, we also have to do what’s responsible and prepare for the possible need for legislation,” Trudeau said Thursday at an event in Calgary. Labour Minister Patty Hajdu tabled a back-to-work bill in the House of Commons but stressed the government would hold off debating the bill to give a special mediator time to settle the labour dispute. Trudeau’s move puts his government at odds with the labour movement as a whole and runs counter to their narrative of support for unions. This is the first time this government has introduced back-to-work legislation, and the message it sends to employers is troubling.
“The right to strike is an integral part of the collective bargaining process. Without it, an employer has no incentive to bargain in good faith, and workers have no recourse to demand a fair process,” said CLC President, Hassan Yussuff yesterday.
On top of that, CUPW National President Mike Palecek says the government is responding to a fictional crisis, “Canada Post seems to have convinced Trudeau that Christmas wouldn’t come without back-to-work legislation.”
“But the mail was moving, and people know it. People have been getting their mail and online orders delivered. That was the point of our rotating strike tactics, not to pick a fight with the public.”
Meanwhile, CUPW also questioned the statements which outlined the backlog of mail which has been cited during the dispute. Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) members going to work are finding that the mail backlog has been highly exaggerated. The CUPW Toronto local reports that rather than the “hundreds of trailers” that Canada Post reported, they have about seventy – a backlog that can probably be cleared in a few days. Postal workers have seen one truck in London, six trailers in Hamilton, two in Halifax, 15 in Moncton, zero in Saint John and St. John’s.
“So where did all that mail go overnight?” asks Mike Palecek, CUPW National President. “We’re convinced that Canada Post manufactured a crisis just to get the government to intervene. If so, that’s a huge concern, and it will further poison our work environment and labour relations for years and years to come.”
Last night, Labour Minister Patty Hajdu re-appointed special mediator Morton Mitchnick to assist with negotiations between the Canadian Union of Postal Workers and Canada Post. At the same time, the government announced it will table back-to-work legislation if a deal is not reached within days.
CUPW is glad to have Mr. Mitchnick’s assistance again, but seriously concerned about the government’s tactics. “Our negotiators will do their best to reach a negotiated settlement, but the government’s announcement pulls the rug out from under us,” comments Palecek.
“Canada Post’s negotiators still have a brief opportunity to show up and bargain in good faith. The Conservatives violated our right to free collective bargaining in 2011. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen again.”