OTTAWA – Labour Minister Patty Hajdu says the federal Liberals have given the House of Commons notice that they’re prepared to legislate Canada Post employees back to work.
Hajdu says 48 hours’ notice is required before introducing back-to-work legislation but insisted that having done so doesn’t mean the government will make the move to end rotating strikes by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.
“We have complete flexibility about when we’ll introduce that legislation,” Hajdu told reporters before the Liberal caucus meeting Wednesday morning.
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The government has also reappointed Morton Mitchnick as a special mediator in the labour battle and Hajdu said she’ll let him take the time he needs.
“We’ve given notice to the House, we are extremely serious, (but) I really don’t want to have to use back-to-work legislation,” said Hajdu. “But having said that, this is a really busy time of year, people are relying on Canada Post to deliver packages, small and medium-size businesses are relying on Canada Post to have a profitable season and our economy needs Canada Post to be able to function in a smooth way.”
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Canada Post is dealing with a fifth week of rotating strikes by thousands of unionized workers as both sides remain apart in contract negotiations.
Hajdu said the parties have already had a very long time to work out a deal but she expects them to work hard over the next couple of days to reach an agreement.
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers on Monday turned down an offer for a holiday cooling-off period and a possible $1,000 bonus for its 50,000 members, saying it would only mean postal employees continuing to work under the same conditions the union is trying to have changed.
When asked if she worries about potential criticism from New Democrats for ending the strikes with a law, Hajdu said she has to do what’s right for the country.