Canada Post staff across the country and in Williams Lake will head back to work today.
On the weekend the House of Commons passed Bill C-6 after a 58-hour debate. The legislation was then approved by the Senate and given royal assent. The legislation imposes a settlement and ends the lock out of nearly 50,000 postal workers that began June 14 with a series of rotating strikes at selected cities across the country and escalated to a brief reduction in delivery service before the corporation announced the lock out.
Ivan Bonnell, president of Canadian Union of Postal Workers Local 854, couldn’t be reached for comment Monday afternoon; however, Bonnell stated last week he did not support back-to-work legislation.
“As a labour union we support free collective bargaining and the right to strike is an essential component of that concept. Back-to-work legislation strips workers of those rights and on that simple premise we don’t support it.”
In the house, the NDP had attempted to fight the legislation calling it a threat to workers’ collective bargaining rights and tried to delay it as long as possible.
The goal was to buy time for a negotiated deal that would supersede the one offered through legislation. However, on Saturday union leaders said further talks with Canada Post were unsuccessful.
The NDP then tried to amend the bill to raise the wage levels to be imposed but the amendment was defeated by the Conservative majority.
An arbitrator will now choose between the final offers of the two sides on non-wage matters in a winner-take-all process.
Labour Minister Lisa Raitt had said that Ottawa had to intervene because of the risk of damage to the economy. The two sides — CUPW and Canada Post Corporation — had been bargaining since October 2010 and CUPW members had been without a contract since Jan. 31. During bargaining some of the issues of contention had been lower wages for new hires, a change in pension plan type, an increase to health and dental insurance premiums and the removal of job security that arises due to technological change.
Mail sorting began yesterday with deliveries expected to start today.
— With files from Jeff Nagel