Canada’s Senate Passes Back-To-Work Legislation Ending Postal Strike

Canada Post rotating job action returns to HRM

Unionized postal workers have gone on strike at two Halifax-area processing facilities, as the Senate examines legislation forcing an end to the rotating strikes at Canada Post.

The Senate voted to pass Bill C-89 on Monday, and it received Royal Assent on the same day.

The government deemed passage of the bill to be urgent due to the economic impact of continued mail disruptions during the busy Christmas holiday season.

The union wants better pay and job security, guaranteed hours for rural and suburban carriers, and equality with urban employees.

The union also wants Canada Post to adopt rules that would cut down on workplace injuries, an issue Palacek said has evolved into a "crisis" in recent years.

Its members have been on rotating strikes since October 22 after almost a year of labour negotiations.

The strikes affected hundreds of communities and led Canada Post in mid-November to ask the rest of the world to stop sending in mail until it had cleared a backlog.

Earlier Monday, picket lines were up in parts of the province of British Columbia, including Vancouver, Richmond and Surrey, and in parts of Ontario, including Hamilton, Ajax, North York, Pickering and London. But the local union, which was threatening to walk off the job on Monday night into Tuesday morning, says the legislation puts mail carriers in a tough position in receiving a new deal.

Despite the likely passing of the bill, Canada Post said on Monday backlogs that of both mail and parcels in our network are severe, and customers should continue to expect delays for the foreseeable future.

The law gives the union and Canada Post a chance to find a mutually acceptable mediator, who will also arbitrate an agreement if the sides can't reach an agreement within at least 90 days.

"For almost a year, we have been supporting and encouraging both sides to reach a negotiated agreement".

"After 37 days of rotating strikes, unconstitutional legislation has removed the right to strike for postal workers", said CUPW national president Mike Palecek.

Independent Sen. Marc Gold, a former constitutional law professor, said he's inclined to agree with the government.

"All options remain on the table to achieve negotiated collective agreements that address health and safety, equitable treatment, fair wages and working conditions, and the democratic right to free collective bargaining", he said.

"Because the right to strike is a fundamental right ..."

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business said it was pleased Ottawa listened to business owners, and described the postal strike as "an emergency for many small firms and for Canadian consumers". "I am convinced that more time should be allowed for negotiations to come to a fruitful conclusion", he said. Leo Housakos told the upper house.

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