Bill C-89 has forced the postal workers, members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), to return to work as of November 27th – preventing the two sides from coming to an agreement.
“You cannot legislate labour peace,” says Mike Palecek, CUPW National President. “This law violates our right to free collective bargaining under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
Legislating employees back to work has caused issues for governments in the past. In 2015 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the right to strike to be fundamental and protected by the constitution. For this reason CUPW has filed a constitutional challenge to Bill C-89. During a previous work stoppage during the Harper government, the Liberals opposed the decision to legislate employees back to work. Now that they are in government they have changed their stance and are following Harper’s methods in legislating them back to work.
“This federal government was supposed to be different from the last, and yet here we are again,” said CUPW President, Mike Palecek. “Trudeau is showing his true colours and the anti-worker agenda shared with former Prime Minister Harper. He knows we have always been prepared to bargain in good faith and to negotiate – quickly – fair collective agreements for our members. He could have directed Canada Post to do the same.”
CUPW was one of the most crucial organizations in establishing parental leave in Canada. During their work stoppage in 1981, the Postal Workers pushed for 17 weeks of maternity leave, which helped lead a movement that made parental leave available across the country. Unions fought hard for other key reforms for employees around the country that have become mainstream in Canadian society such as regulated hours, workplace safety, and much more.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has spoken out against the postal workers being legislated back to work.
“These workers love their job and love serving their communities, but they also face tough conditions and the highest rate of injury amongst federal workers,” said Singh. “All they want is fair negotiations but the Liberals have made that impossible.”
While CUPW members are no longer allowed to strike many other individuals have replaced CUPW members in solidarity on the picket line and postal workers and their allies have participated in demonstrations outside of Liberal MPs offices and Canada Post facilities. Canada Post has made over 80 million dollars each of the last four years, with 2017 being the highest of the last three years. Canada Post’s business is expected to continue to grow due to online shopping.