Canada Post Locks Out Postal Workers and Harper Legislates Back-to-Work Legislation

Update: see previous post – June 14, 2011 Postal Workers on Strike in Brampton, Mississauga, Toronto’s GTA, Scarborough and Montreal

Harper Denies Free Collective Bargaining to CUPW-STTP and Enacts Back-to-Work Legislation with Binding Arbitration after Canada Post Locks Out All 48,000 Urban Operations CUPW-STTP Members Across the Country on June 14, 2011.

As predicted; the Federal Minister of Labour, Lisa Raitt, will introduce back-to-work legislation, to force postal workers back to work without a negotiated collective agreement.

Canada Post locked out all Urban Operation's employees' on June 14, 2011 at approximately 11:16 p.m. without any prior notice. Following the lock-out, Minister Raitt quickly began to introduce back-to-work legislation

This follows an interview wherein Ms. Raitt said she would not being introducing back-to-work legislation for postal workers because they were only engaged in rotating strikes, not a “national strike” and that the series of walkouts in various cities on different days was not having a national significant effect.

Ms. Raitt explained that a minimum of 48 hours notice was required to place an order on the notice paper indicating the government’s intention to introduce legislation and requesting Parliment to intervene in a labour dispute by passing an Act of Parliment.

She added that in order to introduce such criteria, it had to meet a certain threshold and satisfy three (3) conditions – it had to :

  • Be of National Significance
  • Affect the Economy
  • Affect the general Canadian interest
  • The whole process should take 7 or 8 days to be completed and people are back to work following the implementation of the back-to-work legislation the following week. Following this, the parties will provide an arbitrator with the issues and both will be subject to binding arbitration.

    Postal workers have been negotiating with Canada Post Corporation since October, 2010, prior to the expiration of the Urban Operations collective agreement on January 31, 2011.  Rotating strikes began on June 3, 2011. Canada Post has achieved a profit over the last sixteen (16) years and has pay dividends of  $1.2 Billion dollars in that time, to its only shareholder, the Federal government.

    Canada Post complained of business slowing down with rotating strikes and then completely closed its urban operations stopping customers from sending or receiving any mail, anywhere in Canada. The lock-out prevented over 48,000 employees from serving the public or from going to work. How apologetic are they for causing the inconvenience to their customers when they shut down the entire country?

    After the interview conducted with Ms. Raitt, Canada Post made the decision, without any forewarning to the CUPW-STTP or the media, to “lock-out” (not allow anyone to report to work or perform any work) all 48,000 CUPW-STTP Urban Operations workers from coast to coast to coast across the country.

    Following Canada Post’s decision to “lock-out” over 48,000 CUPW-STTP Urban Operations workers, Ms. Raitt now believes that the current conflict between Canada Post and CUPW-STTP meets this criteria and that it is an appropriate time to introduce legislation forcing postal workers back to work, without a negotiated collective agreement.

    Based on the criteria that Ms. Raitt is using to justify the back-to-work legislation, in future, if an employer does not want to bargain in good faith, it need only provide proper notice under the Canada Labour Code and lock out all of its’ employees and when businesses and the public starts screaming, the government then steps in, provides notice and within 7 or 8 days, back-to-work legislation is put into effect and the dispute is put to rest. Free collective bargaining is averted.

    Ms. Raitt will introduce back-to-work legislation entitled “Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act”. This legislation will be passed by both the Conservative majority House and the Conservative majority Senate and be in effect by next week.

    Unfortunately, postal workers have experienced back-to-work legislation in prior labour negotiation conflicts. In the last two (2) postal strikes, in 1997 and 1987,  back-to-work legislation (see the Postal Services Continuation Act, 1997 and the Postal Services Continuation Act, 1987 ) was enacted by the governments of the day.




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